Gavin Brown Takes On New York Pavements
West London duo New York Pavements have been releasing music, both originals and cover versions over the past year. With recent single Slam The Door and the upcoming Never Get The Better, leading to both a full album and a related short film which will be released next year. We caught up with Paul Brooking from New York Pavements who spoke to us about the group’s music and influences and most importantly, their role in raising awareness of mental health with their music and visual elements.
You’ve just released your latest single Slam The Door. Can you tell us about the creation of the track and what it is about?
I wrote it to introduce the world of this character Jack, it’s his story about his strained relationship with his wife. Originally it had the feel of the Hendrix track Crosstown traffic, but as I developed the recording I abandoned the original drum track and re-recorded it with more of a James Brown Funky Drummer feel.
Can you also tell us about the video you have done for the song?
Originally I was intending to use the same cast of actors in the video for three singles, but the idea grew into a short film that would echo the story of the album.
What has the feedback on Slam The Door been like so far?
It’s our first original material following three cover versions, and I’m pleased to say that it’s had by far the best reaction of anything we’ve put out with loads of positive comments on the socials.
Who are Jack and Anjie and how does their story relate to the music of New York Pavements?
The film and concept album are one cohesive work, Jack is the lead role in the story and Anjie is a character who often appears as his fantasy – or so it may appear. All becomes revealed in the final film due out with the album.
You are slated to bring out your debut album Outside The Glasshouse next year. Can you tell us about the album and when we can expect it?
Slam The Door musically sets the style and there are several tracks with that feel but I never like albums that stay in the same genre. So this musically takes you on a journey with different sonic atmospheres reflecting the overarching concept. Jack is in freefall, isolated from his work and his love life, he’s lost, alone and looking for meaning. The best albums always have great cover art and this won’t disappoint with a booklet of the award winning imagery as part of the vinyl release.
Can you tell us about what other new music you have coming out before the album is released?
So, we have three more singles at least two of them will be also available in 7″ vinyl with exclusive B-sides.
Can you give us an insight into the short film you will be bringing out and how it reacted to the album?
The music was written first and the recording started before the film was even conceived but we completed the film a year ago and it went on the festival circuit where it did really well being selected for several of the and picking up awards at Cannes Shorts and the Overcome Festival in California.
The aim of the album and film is to raise awareness of the hugely important condition of men’s mental health in their forties and fifties. Did you want to bring awareness to this issue as it is not really talked about and why do you think that is?
It’s great the way mental health as an issue has increased in awareness over the last decade, it’s so important. However, the specific area of what is often mockingly called the ‘male mid-life crisis’ is under-researched and rarely reported on and yet the highest rates of suicide are in men especially in middle age. I think the stigma maybe due to the apparently cringeworthy ways that some men conduct themselves, the stereotype of buying the Harley Davidson or dressing outlandishly. But what’s behind the behaviour? What is it a reaction to? I think it’s possibly covering up something darker and understanding this might help wider society.
Do you feel that music is still important on raising awareness of various issues?
Maybe more than ever. I don’t listen to a lot of rap but it’s clear you can hear a lot of issues being articulated so well by artists such as Little Simz, Dave. You get a bit of it in rock and pop as well.
You’ve also recently released a cover of Sunshine Of Your Love by Cream. What made you want to cover that song in particular?
It’s such a great riff by Jack Bruce and Clapton’s chorus fits so well, but it would be hard to do it justice as a straight cover so I put in that Funky Drummer feel in the style of Reni from Stone Roses and it took it somewhere else.
Can you give us an insight into the video you made for the song?
Well, it’s part of the main film which out of context is intended to be a little enigmatic. The budget was so tight that we couldn’t get Jack and Anjie together on the same day, so Anjie danced alone in a studio and Jack alone in a restaurant and I edited them together. So in reality the actors Michael Roy Andrew and Amy Bjørck have never met! They’re both excellent performers it would be great to do something live with them for real one day.
How important is the visual aspect of New York Pavements?
100%. I’ll work into the small hours on the typesetting, the colours and the photographs, let alone the film. When people buy anything NYP I want them to feel they have a quality product, I’ve always loved those artists that really cared about the way every release looked and not just relied on some record label art department.
What are some examples of both your favourite music videos and movies and how do they influence your music?
Well, that’s tricky. Somehow not many music videos stick in my mind. The director Spike Jonze has done some impressive work such as the Fatboy Slim ‘Weapon Of Choice’, I showed a bit of that to Michael who plays Jack. I also love his add for Kenzo – worth checking out. Movie wise I love the epic feel of 2001 and Kubric’s storytelling in The Shining. The subtlety of nouvelle vague French movies is always inspiring. Although none of these influence the music. Of course, the Sunshine of Your Love video references Pulp Fiction and Bowie’s Boys Keep Swinging, that was fun.
You’ve also done covers of My Generation and Green Onions on the Under The Covers release. How much fun was it covering those classic songs?
When it works it’s great, especially trying to emulate the sounds rather than sample them. But you’re aware all the time that you’re playing with people’s favourite tracks so you have to tread carefully.
Which songs would you love to cover in the future?
It could be a Bowie track – but I’m always thinking how can I add something original to this? What can I mash it up with? I worked on The Jam’s Start mixed with Taxman – but it’s too obvious and also lyrically they’re miles apart, so I abandoned that one.
What are some of your all-time favourite cover versions?
Well I guess Otis Redding’s Day Tripper interprets a great song in a totally different dimension. Have to say, I was always amused by Mike Flowers covering Wonderwall as though it was a groovy sixties pop hit.
How did New York Pavements start in the first place?
Well everyone’s got at least one album in them.
Who are both yours and the bands biggest musical influences?
All the one’s I’ve referenced here I guess, and then there’s bands like Supergrass who Matt and I both love, Radiohead, Small Faces. But we’re not stuck in the last century, Arctic Monkeys, Royal Blood, Black Keys. The last thing I Shazammed was Off The Ground by Sub Focus – great production.
What do you want to achieve with the band in the future?
It would be good to do some more live work but essentially to have people buy this album and for it to mean something for them so that they return to and play it as a whole from time to time would be really satisfying. Thanks for taking the time, it’s been fun answering your questions.
A huge thank you spending time with Circuit Sweet, the new video has just dropped and is a must watch!
Words: Gavin Brown