Moodbay are a electropop duo from the North East of England, consisting of producer-songwriter, Alfie Cattell, and vocalist-songwriter, Anna Stephens. They formed in 2017, after meeting at the British and Irish Modern Music Institute in Manchester.
Their music is a great fusion of genres but consistently features a mega hook and dancefloor-ready production. The pair began by releasing covers of pop songs from the likes of Sigrid and Dua Lipa, before going on to share their original tracks. Their most recent single ‘Like Nobody Else’ is a synth-led firecracker inspired by Sandro Botticelli’s infamous painting, ‘The Birth of Venus’.
We had a quick chat with Moodbay about this new single as well as discussing their influences, career highlights, and plans for the year.
The VLM: How are you doing?
Moodbay (Anna): Hey! We’re good thanks yeah! Been busy writing writing writing as usual. It’s our favourite way to spend our days and we’re lucky in the sense that we just got more time to do that during this pandemic. We miss going to gigs and performing live so much though.
How would you describe your sound to someone who has not heard your music?
Alfie: We’d describe our sound as a fusion of lots of genres from pop, r&b, and indie through to classical. We call it ‘moodpop’! We’re most inspired by the likes of Radiohead, Daft Punk, The Weeknd, Chvrches, Christine & The Queens and BANKS.
Your latest single ‘Like Nobody Else’ is a bit of a banger, and has made its way onto the BBC Radio Wales A playlist – how have you found the reception of its release?
Alfie: Thanks a lot, that’s nice to hear. ‘Like Nobody Else’ has definitely been our best received single to date, and we were also glad to see it named BBC Introducing Tees Track Of The Week too. We think it will be a fun one to play live.
The track was inspired by a painting, can you tell us a little more?
I’ve always adored that painting by Botticelli – ‘The Birth Of Venus’ and had been wanting to write a song about comparing someone to a work of art. This idea soon morphed into making the focus of the song this Venus-like figure. But this isn’t a superficial song – it’s more about being in awe of someone’s essence and in love with their soul, despite ‘imperfections’. We all have imperfections – that’s part of what make us beautiful no? I’m singing, “I could frame you and admire all your imperfections. I find a diamond when you’re rough around the edge”.
If you were to paint a picture of your sound as a duo – what would you paint and what colours would you use?
Anna: We’d paint something abstract expressionist – our music has expression and drama, but it’s ordered chaos. We put a lot of thought into the songwriting process. But the foundation of all our songs is a raw emotion, and we try to communicate that in a way that makes sense to our listeners. The colours would be all shades of blue, because blue is the best colour, with black, and white and then touches of other colours here and there, like a bit of red or a bit of green, or orange. We do generally see the music in shapes and colours anyway, I think a lot of musicians do actually! And visual artists might hear sounds to accompany their painting. So it works both ways.
The foundation of all our songs is a raw emotion, and we try to communicate that in a way that makes sense to our listeners
Running with the title of that single, and the fact you are representing northern talent, can you name a northern artist who you think are sounding like nobody else at the moment?
Alfie: We have big respect for North-East trio Twist Helix. Their latest song ‘Frida Kahlo’ is a fierce, synth-pop ballad packed full of punch and catchy melodies. We also like the strong themes behind their songs – this latest song is about identity in an online world and the one before it ‘Louder’ being about gender equality and in particular, female empowerment.
Your music is always dance friendly – how have you found clubs and venues been shut?
Alfie: We barely left the house to any social gatherings for a good few years while writing material, so we don’t miss nightclubs that’s for sure. As for music venues – we always have time for going to and playing at gigs, and absolutely miss the sticky beer-soaked floors of those places.
What is your favourite room to dance in the house?
Our favourite room to dance in the house is the studio – when we’re writing Moodbay music but also listening to all the artists we love too. Can’t think of a better way to spend time than a combination of those two things.
What have been some career highlights for you as a duo?
Anna: Stand-out moments for us include performing at two amazing events hosted by Metro Radio last year. These were to crowds of around 10 and 25,000 people, which was a first for us performing in front of audiences that size. We truly adore the more intimate gigs in smaller venues though, and have really enjoyed getting to know the live scene around the North-East, including at amazing places such as Cobalt Studios and Think Tank?. We have yet to the play at The Cluny though, and had a few cancelled gigs there, so we look forward to that when the time comes.
Finally, what have you got planned for the rest of the year?
Alfie: We have a string of new singles to share, leading up to the release of our debut album, so expect some news on all that soon.
Thanks for chatting with us!
Hope you all stay safe, and thanks to The VLM for inviting us to chat!