Get to know... CIPHERS

Merging the melancholy and the electro-pop, CIPHERS’ latest track, ‘Enemy’, is a musing on the anxiety and self questioning that has been induced by a year of lockdown.

Impossible not to have a boogie to, this tune has artfully infused the catchy and the self-deprecating.

Cruising towards the end of lockdown, we caught up with Dan and Lewis to chat recent changes, influences and the blessing of music making through the weird times.

Hello! How’s life treating you?

Hey! Life is weird for both of us right now— of course it is for everyone. Dan has just moved to Cardiff, Lewis is still working from London. Given that we used to live together, being apart has been a little isolating. We’ve felt the effects of the pandemic differently but generally we’re in a good place. We’re healthy and making more music than ever before, so that’s something to be grateful for.

Tell us a bit about how you got started up?

We first met as flatmates in Uni halls. In the summer of 2016, we took a break from the regularly scheduled programming of caffeine-fuelled Call of Duty and tried making some tracks together. It was bedroom-beatmaker meets singer-songwriter and before we knew it, we’d created what would eventually be our first single, Don't Speak.

Your new single ‘Enemy’ is out in the world, what would you say were your main inspirations for this track?

Enemy is a personal account about the effects of anxiety, so lyrically it’s pretty dark in places. I wouldn’t say there are any explicit inspirations for the writing. We tend to draw on personal experience and naturally end up imitating a mixed bag of writers we admire like John Mayer, Sasha Sloan and Matty Healy. The sonic aesthetic is much more pronounced, making an obvious callback to the best of the 80s.

Do you have any go to bands you look to for influence?

We’re massively influenced by the likes of Nightly and LANY; I feel like that’s audible in both the songwriting and production on all the music we’re putting out this year. That said, both of us have incredibly eclectic music tastes. Whenever we’re creating, we’re inspired by any number of musical moments. It could be the passionate delivery of a line by Oli Sykes or even the eccentric production of Hyperpop, it’s all inspiration to us.

What are they key elements in the songwriting process for you with a track like ‘Enemy’?

Typically Dan crafts the heart of the instrumental. It’s usually in a really solid spot before we start writing any lyrics. We find it’s much easier to write sincere lyrics when the track is well defined and the tone is set early. It’s a solitary process for each of us at first. But as we approach the finish line, it’s a constant refining of ideas. With Enemy, we cut an entire outro section at the last minute, nothing is safe until we truly put it to bed.

You’ve touched on your 80s influences before, what is it about this era of tunes that appeals to you so much?

We love the aesthetic of the 80s for more reasons than we can probably list but a few things jump to mind. Drums from artists like Peter Gabriel have a ton of energy and strike the perfect balance between sampled and a live kit. Synth-driven music from that era has this dream-like quality and it makes us nostalgic for a time we never lived through. We’re cognisant of that and think it’s a really intriguing idea. If we can stir that longing in anyone else with our music, then that’s mission achieved.

With the world going back to a bit of normality, has this helped your plans with progression of CIPHERS?

Not so much at the moment but going forward some normality will only do us good. Of course it opens us up to writing in person and playing live in the future. But more importantly than that, I feel like we both need some human-level nourishment; some new experiences to write about and maybe an in-person hug. All of that stuff will help to reaffirm our love for the music we’ve made so far and to inspire whatever we do next.

What’s next on the list for you two?

Enemy is just a snippet of much more music to come from us this year! We’re currently juggling making visuals for finished songs and writing brand new tunes. Hopefully with live music on the horizon, a Ciphers show will be a possibility in the near future. Right now we’re just excited to get these new songs out into the world.