Origins is a recurring new music feature where an artist or band takes a deep dive into the specific influences behind their latest single.
Those who discovered Mike Lindsay thanks to his recent collaboration with Laura Marling, LUMP, had a thick back catalog to explore. It wouldn’t take too deep a dive to encounter Tunng, the folktronica band Lindsay formed nearly 15 years ago. While the English outfit has released out five albums since its inception, it’s been half a decade since its last full-length — and a full one since it featured Lindsay’s fellow co-founder, Sam Genders. The pair reconvened in 2016 for the side-project Throws, but now they’re back together with Tunng’s original lineup for the first time in 11 years — which makes this the perfect time to rediscover the band.
Tunng is set to release Songs You Make at Night on August 24th via Full Time Hobby. When Gender and Lindsay sat down to start working on new material, however, they thought they were working on a new Throws record. The first song they crafted was “Sleepwalking”, and Genders says “if you use your imagination you might be able to hear a touch of [Throws’] Northern Soul influence in the chorus.” Still, once they decided to bring in the rest of Tunny (Ashley Bates, Phil Winter, Becky Jacobs, and Martin Smith), the track became the genisis for Songs You Make at Night.
“The rest of the band brought their magic and everything changed, but I’m pretty sure this song wouldn’t exist if we’d initially known we were writing for Tunng,” Genders tells Consequence of Sound. “When the band got involved it changed a lot — we’d started out with Mike’s electronic sound palette as a kind of structural discipline but it became much more organic as people added their own arrangements to the mix and between us we finalised the arrangement. It’s one of my favourite songs on the album.”
Take a listen to “Sleepwalking” below.
For more insight on how “Sleepwalking” came to be — and came to become the return of the original Tunng — Genders has detailed the Origins of the song.
The Postal Service — “Such Great Heights”:
There’s a slightly unusual structure to “Sleepwalking” in that the second verse has a totally different melody and phrasing to the rest of the song. When I wrote that, I was reminded of this track by The Postal Service. I think partly because there’s an indie pop influence in the melody that is partly inspired by bands like The Postal Service and The Shins, as well as the Beatles… whom I grew up with and who made me want to play guitar and write songs in the first place. Also, at that point we just had Mike’s electronic backing and my lyrics and melody so it was reminiscent of the way that TPS made their tracks, with Ben Gibbard laying vocals down over Jimmy Tamborello’s instrumental parts.
Throws — Throws:
This is the album Mike and I made in 2016, so you may think I’m doing some slightly cheeky self promotion here, but in all honesty I think this album is probably one of the biggest influences on the song “Sleepwalking”. I sang a lot of the Throws songs in the most ridiculous falsetto and there was a kind of wonky Northern Soul — or Crazy Soul?? — element to what we did. The chorus of “Sleepwalking” started out as a full on falsetto soul chorus with us singing at the tops of our voices after a night in the pub. Thankfully the rest of the band got involved and tempered it into something much more sophisticated.
Fairport Convention — “Who Knows Where the Time Goes”:
I’m often reminded of the power of collaboration and making this new Tunng album was a great reminder of how unexpected magic can happen when you get a great team together and no one lets their egos get out of control. Songs You Make at Night is very much a product of the strange and unique chemistry that happened at this particular time with these particular people with a spirit of trying different ideas and seeing what turned out best. Some projects obviously focus on one person but something special often happens when people work together and bounce ideas around. I tried to think of a band that exemplified that and I thought Fairport would do nicely.
Paul Simon — “Mother and Child Reunion”:
I couldn’t say he’s influenced “Sleepwalking” exactly, but Paul Simon is such a great writer and he certainly inspires me to try and write better songs. Kind of half makes me want to be better and half makes me feel like giving up and becoming a plumber. I feel like we’ve done some of our best songwriting on this record… maybe good enough to get us into pre-kindergarten in the Paul Simon school of writing better songs.
Bert Jansch — “Blackwaterside”:
Ashley’s acoustic guitar parts are such a big part of the record so I wanted to include a great guitarist who has inspired all of us guitarists in the band at some point over the years. I remember these guitarists like Bert, Dave Graham and John Renbourn just sounding like magicians when I first heard them when I was young. It seemed totally out of my league — and mostly it still is. I sometimes teach guitar and I love to think that maybe sometime in the next few years some young kid might come across some Tunng album and decide she or he wants to learn how to play these odd songs we’ve made… maybe ask their Mum for a guitar for Christmas… and so the cycle starts anew. That would be lovely.