It was a breezy Friday afternoon as Scottish electronic band Chvrches took to the stage at the Clockenflap music festival last week. Fans flocked to see the trio perform hits from their year-old debut album, The Bones of What We Believe.
Chvrches' music combines the danceability of 80s synthpop with buoyant drum claps and melodic synth riffs, all penetrated by Lauren Mayberry's pure voice and deep lyrics. The crowd was thunderous as Iain Cook and Martin Doherty struck up the intro to The Mother We Share on their synthesizers, while Mayberry swung her mic wire like a lasso before plunging into the song.
While they work perfectly together onstage, it's obvious they are very different people. If they were Hunger Games characters, Mayberry, 27, might be a Katniss who's actually good at, and likes, performing. Cook, 40, who brought the band together, would be Plutarch. Doherty, 32, the most energetic of the three, would just be the bouncy guy who goes right up to the line of fire and dies first.
These are fitting analogies, because the trio recently wrote a song called Dead Air for the Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 soundtrack. Chatting backstage with Young Post before their performance, they say it just took three days to write and record.
"Day one, we just messed around with the keyboards and came up with the basis of the song. Day two, we worked the whole thing up to basically the product after two full days in the studio. We would never release something that we were in any way not satisfied with, so as hard as it would have been if it hadn't been working, we would have passed up the opportunity, but we were delighted with it," explains Doherty over the loud noise of the sound check happening outside. "That's an interesting beat," murmurs Mayberry jokingly.
The band's lyricist, Mayberry is a feminist with a law degree and a Masters in journalism. She normally starts writing by flipping open a book of random words. "I'll choose one that fits with a line, and then write the rest of that line, so you kind of set the tone of what it's gonna be like," she says.
All three were members of other bands long before they formed Chvrches (pronounced "churches", they added the "v" to make themselves more Googleable), and are adamant about writing, recording and producing all their songs. They proved their capability long before they were signed to a label, and had a solid following on social networks, which they still personally manage.
"We had a lot of support from people on social networks and blogs and things like that before we were broadcast on radio or had an album. So it's important for us to keep feeding back to the community," says Mayberry.
After playing more than 365 shows in two years, it's time for a break; the band will be back in the studio writing songs next year. Asked about their plans, Cook finally speaks: "We're keen to see where the music actually takes us, 'cause that's what happened first time around," he says.
"We didn't have a plan or an agenda … we just started writing and it kinda led itself, so we're keen to repeat that process."