The first track I heard by art rock­ers Fehlt was Clo­sure and it had an instant appeal. Lik­ing that first lis­ten can go one of two ways: it might stick with you or it might just be a brief flir­ta­tion. For­tu­nate­ly it’s the for­mer and the con­fi­dent, expan­sive, sound­scapey lush­ness of Clo­sure, out now via Clue records, con­tin­ues to work its mag­ic, with calm, steady vocals by Ewan thread­ed amongst its lay­ers. And there’s an intrigu­ing lat­er release, a cov­er of Sebado­h’s Spoiled, show­cas­ing Fehlt’s soft­er and more reflec­tive approach.

The founder of Leeds-based Fehlt, Ewan Barr, for­mu­lat­ed his vision while at Leeds Col­lege of Art and set about recruit­ing band mem­bers keen to move in a sim­i­lar direc­tion. I chat­ted to Ewan about how it all came togeth­er and what’s hap­pen­ing next…

So Ewan, you were study­ing art at Leeds… when did the shift to music begin, and how did that hap­pen?
I’ve been involved with both art and music for a long time now, I was play­ing in bands pri­or to Fehlt, most notably in an out­fit called Dose. It was a huge learn­ing curve for me, Dose’s con­cep­tion came only months after I first picked up the gui­tar in 2014. I’d always been inter­est­ed in music but the yearn­ing to play didn’t hap­pen until lat­er on.

So the next step was to recruit band mem­bers – you obvi­ous­ly had a strong idea of the direc­tion you want­ed to take. How long have you all been togeth­er?
I’ve been record­ing with Fehlt for just over two years how­ev­er the full band didn’t come togeth­er until August last year. I’d been play­ing in bands with Adam Run­dle (bass), pri­or to mov­ing away from the North East. Ini­tial­ly I found it hard to come across oth­er peo­ple who shared the same vision and direc­tion as myself, that was until I met Will Shut­tle­worth (gui­tar) and Ben Udin (drum­mer).

How does Fehlt’s cre­ative process work? Who is the band’s song­writer and who writes the lyrics? Or is it still-evolv­ing process?
It’s some­thing that’s con­stant­ly evolv­ing. for the most part, I write the mate­r­i­al and then I’ll bring it to the band where we’ll iron things out.

Before lock­down you had a run of shows organ­ised for this year, includ­ing Chunk in Leeds. How many shows were you able to do? And were you hap­py with how play­ing live was going?
We played our debut show in Octo­ber and our first head­line in Feb­ru­ary. I always look for­ward to per­form­ing live, we put a lot of ener­gy into mak­ing our per­for­mances as inter­est­ing as pos­si­ble. Every­thing is care­ful­ly con­sid­ered, from the sam­ples to the pro­jec­tion films we pro­duce to project onto our­selves dur­ing the show.

Who would you con­sid­er have been pri­ma­ry influ­ences on your music?
Bands like Women and Slint def­i­nite­ly influ­ence my approach to song­writ­ing and instru­men­ta­tion, their intri­cate, anx­ious gui­tars are some­thing I con­sid­er every time I sit down to write. I’m not a huge read­er but I’m mak­ing an effort this year in order to broad­en my influ­ence palette, I’m cur­rent­ly read­ing Dune by Frank Her­bert which is quot­ed on an upcom­ing track for our next release.

You per­son­al­ly had a lot of input on the video to Clo­sure … can you tell us more about that?
Myself and reg­u­lar col­lab­o­ra­tor Mitchell Dil­ley have been pro­duc­ing video art since we both attend­ed an art foun­da­tion course in 2017. We’re real­ly inter­est­ed in ephemer­al art; re-inter­pret­ing objects and doc­u­ments, pro­duc­ing new con­texts. The video was made up of Polaroid and var­i­ous oth­er man­u­als, link­ing to the theme of clo­sure. I strive to have as much input when it comes to the visu­al aspects for our releas­es, I want them to be in a world in their own and you accom­plish that with coher­ent art and a cohe­sive mes­sage.

Are you all in dif­fer­ent places at the moment dur­ing this lock­down peri­od? Are you man­ag­ing to rehearse on Zoom and share ideas…
Until recent­ly we were all over the coun­try – Dar­ling­ton, York, Cam­bridge, Man­ches­ter. We haven’t real­ly tak­en the oppor­tu­ni­ty to dig­i­tal­ly prac­tice as such, we’ve all had uni­ver­si­ty com­mit­ments. How­ev­er, hav­ing fin­ished uni­ver­si­ty in ear­ly May I’ve tak­en the oppor­tu­ni­ty to work on some new mate­r­i­al but not any­thing major.

Are you plan­ning to be in the stu­dio or record new music – and are there any gigs lined up (live dates are sub­ject to change).

Pri­or to lock­down we’d been demo-ing an extend­ed play and had plans in place to begin record­ing-prop­er but that was all put on hold. At this moment in time I’ve been work­ing on get­ting every­thing ready to go – art­work, videos and press, so as soon as the restric­tions lift we can start the record­ing process. We have shows lined up in Sep­tem­ber, how­ev­er due to the ever broad and uncer­tain actions of our incom­pe­tent gov­ern­ment, we’re not too hope­ful they will go ahead as planned!

Is there any­one who has helped you along the way? And have you had sup­port from your com­mu­ni­ty?
Leeds is a great source for guid­ance with­in the city; when the virus first became appar­ent in the UK they com­piled a great list of links and infor­ma­tion that they keep up-to-date avail­able here: . They reg­u­lar­ly have funds and oppor­tu­ni­ties for emerg­ing artists in York­shire which can only be a great thing for the already thriv­ing musi­cians of the Leeds area.

Clo­sure and Spoiled are avail­able on a lim­it­ed-edi­tion cas­sette and digitally 

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