Glass Animals
Glass Animals / Credit: Elliott Arndt
ICON: Congratulations on your forthcoming album Dreamland. Your last album was in 2016. How does it feel to be back?

Dave Bayley: “It’s really good. It’s weird releasing new music as it’s been a really long time. We tested the waters with that Denzel Curry track. We didn’t know if anyone would still be listening since Joe got injured. So, we’ve been gone for a longer time than we planned to be. Luckily, I think some people were still listening, which is great, so we just kept going. I had been really nervous about this new stuff because it’s very personal. All the previous stuff has been about other people and kind of made up shit and now it’s just done a full 180. Heart on your sleeve, everything.”

‘Dreamland’ was born from a time of uncertainty for you. What do you hope people take from this album in this current period of time?

DB: “That it’s okay to not have an answer, it’s okay to be a bit confused. Everyone is confused about the future right now. I said this when we announced the album, I started looking backwards and looking into memories. I think that happens a lot when you’re unsure of the future. I think that’s a great thing to embrace. The world quite often wants you to be certain about everything. The world is built for people who can give a yes or no answer or tick one of the three boxes on the form. They’re always trying to categorise everyone. It’s way more colourful than that and it’s okay to not be sure which box you fit into. It’s okay to not have an answer or know how to feel about a situation.

“Weird things happen in life and it’s good to just be confused about it for a little bit.”

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You have this incredible story about being in the middle of a U.S. tour during the pandemic and being forced to pack up your gear in a warehouse and attempt to get home. Did you fear you’d be stuck overseas?

DB: “There was a little bit of me that thought it might happen but as soon as we heard flights were getting cancelled, we booked the next one we could. We were out. I guess there was a fear of it as we had been travelling so much, I didn’t know what was going to happen politically, they could’ve said people who’ve been in these states can’t fly back to England. So, who knows what was going to happen? But they just banned all of them. So, we got out in time. I think they banned everything a week after we got back.”

How has your music evolved since your last work?

DB: “A lot. The lyrics changed a lot as we discussed, and became personal. Leaning into a lot of the sounds I was growing up with. Sounds that I feel comfortable with a lot of those memories were associated with certain songs. In the same way people associate memories with smell, I do that with music. A lot of my mum’s record collection Nina Simone and Bill Withers, The Beatles, The Beach Boys. Then as I got older, I started listening to stuff like Eminem, Dr Dre, everything Pharrell produced, everything Timberland produced and so I ended up really leaning into those references.”

Do you think this is one of your strongest works to date?

DB: “I hope so. I hope we’re always getting better. I definitely feel like I have gotten better. I had no idea what I was doing when we made the first record. I was so lost. I think you can hear that in the first record. You can hear how timid and gentle everything is… It’s quite naïve sounding. A lot of that record mirrored that and then the second album, we’d been touring a lot and I’d been on a lot more stages. I hadn’t played any shows when we released the first album really. Then you kind of get more comfortable in your own skin, that’s the second album. It’s a combination of the two almost. Maybe I can balance the naïve delicate sounds more confidently. I like the music a lot, it feels like I did what was in my head.”

You’ve worked alongside the likes of Ed Sheeran, Joey Bada$$ and Khalid. What has been your biggest lesson from these artists?

DB: “Those people write very personal songs. When I’ve worked with them, they tend to gravitate towards the personal things. I think I definitely learnt a huge amount from anyone I’ve ever worked with. When you write for someone else you have that degree of removal so you’re not singing. You can be really personal and it’s someone else voice and you can pump the personal experiences into it. When you work with people like that and they like something you have done it’s cool, you think maybe I can do this.”

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Talk to me about the visuals for this new album – I’ve seen the rolling and floating heads everywhere on social media. What inspired that?

DB: “There’s a particular program called Cinema 4D animation program that they use in films quite often. You can use it with your phone and scan objects so I got obsessed with scanning things and the amazing thing about that is once you have the data you can play with the scale of everything. So little things happen in life that have a huge effect.”

Glass Animals Dreamland
Glass Animals ‘Dreamland’ Album Artwork / Credit: Supplied
How has quarantine changed you as a creative?

DB: “I think the one thing I’ve really started doing is being more collaborative since quarantine.

“Partly because everyone is locked down and some people have run out of weed and now, they want to work so a lot of people are getting in touch.”

Mainly music but all sorts of things. We’re designing a shoe with a shoe company and t-shirt ranges with other companies. There’s just such an amazing openness right now partly because I think everyone is a bit lost. People are just reaching out to each other and I really love that, being really collaborative. I‘ve been a lot more open myself, I’m usually a lot more protective of my music. I used to make it alone in my bedroom and now it’s lovely letting people in. Starting something and passing it off or getting something and adding my own stuff.

Glass Animals
Glass Animals / Credit: Pooneh Ghana
Now more than ever, it is so important to support the music industry yet a lot of governments are looking past those people. What would you say to policy makers who overlook your industry?

DB: “I don’t know what the priority is for the governments. People are dying, that should be the priority right now. A lot of people who are obviously suffering in other ways and that’s terrible and I hope that art doesn’t get overlooked. It would be really sad if it did. I think this moment and situation is amazing for people creativity and it would be amazing if policy makers started to feed that in some way. I think it’s amazing for mental health, it’s amazing for work ethic. It’s a good thing to do to be making stuff…

Maybe we will have to find part time jobs, but it would be nice to just be part time jobs. I also have to say I’m so lucky to be able to have this as a job, I think it’s pretty rare and I feel if that becomes impossible it’s already been incredible and I’m very lucky to have that right now.”

Glass Animals’ latest album ‘Dreamland’ drops on August 7. For more from the British band, visit their website here.

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thoughts?