The dark electronic pop made by Northampton man David Maddox Jones is better known as Born Stranger. The former frontman of noughties post-punkers The Departure has been busy refining the Born Stranger sound over a series of singles, the latest of which is the undeniably catchy ‘Last Night On Earth’. New Boots asked a few questions about the project and single.
After the dissolution of The Departure you started NewIslands in London, before settling into Born Stranger. How did the final transition to Born Stranger come about?
Hi there! Well, when Newislands disbanded it was clear that me and Raife, the drummer in Newislands didn’t want to stop making music together. It was around the time that Hurts were coming out as a two piece and I think it inspired us to go it as a duo rather than having a conventional band set-up. Me and Raife worked together for 10 years [including his time in Newislands], and it was only the start of this year when Born Stranger became my solo project. Raife is pursuing more of a DJ/producer path with his partner Kelda.
Obviously the music stylings shifted, to this more Bastille-meets-Depeche Mode synth-pop thing. Was it an easy, natural shift?
I’ve always loved dark pop, particularly 1980s pop: stuff like Duran Duran, Chic, to more darker bands such as The Cure, Echo & The Bunnymen, etc. So I guess the sound became more streamlined and focused when there were less people involved in the music.
Who are the main influences on Born Stranger, do you think?
A big influence is music I’ve never heard before. I love hearing a new song or band or artist, that’s what excites me. I remember hearing The Weeknd ‘Can’t Feel My Face’ and then writing a Born Stranger song straight after. I like spontaneity in creativity and also to constantly be moving forward.
The last three years has been a continuous release of singles. Do you beaver away in the studio and simply release another when it’s ready? Has the positive reaction of each driven you onto the next one?
Yes. Although we did have a batch of songs ready with Yoad Nevo before we released our first single – maybe 20 songs – but in between singles we actually ended up writing new ones that would become the next single. We have had some cool collaborations – Caitlyn Scarlett, Vivienne Chi, Louise Setara – that have all added their own vibe onto some of our singles.
Tell us everything about this newest one, ‘Last Night On Earth’.
‘Last Night on Earth’ was written around a friend of mines house who sadly isn’t with us anymore. The world has lost a few amazing people recently that were seemingly happy on the surface but battled with depression on the inside. ‘Last Night on Earth’ is about living in the moment, being there for each other and celebrating humanity. We used to work with this French producer who was Yoad Nevos’ assistant called Anthony Chivers. He came up with the original beat and guitars and we wrote the melody over it. It has evolved over time and I am buzzing with how its turned out.
Do you keep one eye on the Northamptonshire scene?
I still live in Northampton, though I’ve just finished a season in Cyprus [but I am moving back, at least for a few months]. I don’t really know whats going on in the scene, is there a healthy local scene? I know Billy Lockett is doing well and Danny Connors and Adam Gammage with Tom Grennan are smashing it. I would be interested to see some of the new local bands for sure.
What has been your favourite Born Stranger moment so far?
Hearing a new tune finished for the first time is the best feeling.
What was the last album and single you bought/streamed?
Probably something by Drake or Khalid. I’ve been going pure pop lately: I like to keep my vocal melodies on point. I love the phrasing of some of the new pop that’s going around.
What is your burning desire to do in the future?
Have a bonafide hit – that’s what I want.
‘Last Night On Earth’ is out now on the usual digital platforms