New Music: Collard

  • Photography  Max Barnett
  • Words  Abi Buller

Camden based artist Collard visited our studios to sit for a portrait and discuss his musical influences and how his first album came together.

Where did the album name Unholy come from?
Unholy started off as the name of a song that was originally recorded for the album. Both myself and my producer pulled the song from the project but felt the name encompassed the album’s narrative well.

What was the experience of creating your debut album like, and why did you feel it was the right time to do so?
The experience was eye-opening, gruelling, and therapeutic. The process of diving into myself and studying my actions in love and how my religious upbringing and relationships collide so seamlessly; we were creating such honest music that the only way to represent it would be in album format. I wanted to lay my artistic foundation with the book of unholy.

Can you explain some of your influences behind your style of making and writing music?
I spent a lot of time studying great writers and musicians such as Janis Joplin, Prince, James Brown, Led Zep, Sly, Rolling Stones, and Gary Moore. They were all pivotal inspirations when it came to configuring the big sound we were striving for. Films and TV series, from a creative aspect, helped a whole lot. I watched a load of Hal Ashby films and just studied the language and descriptions of despair so many of his characters portray.

How has living London fuelled your creativity for this album and your work in general?
London is miserable and it makes me miserable, so it helps me write about misery.

Can you describe the process of creating Unholy, some of the highs and lows, and what kept you motivated throughout?
The making of Unholy was a three-year journey.
Unholy forced me to look deeper into myself as a sexual being, as a man, and as a human. The fact that I got to see the persistence of myself, of Zach, Joe and Sosa means that all the low points are highs now: they were all lessons. Watching the standard my creative directors set, and being strongly creatively dictated by the standard my producer Zach Nahome set for this project is what kept me motivated throughout. I owed them nothing but my all.

Which songs on the track-list relate to you on a deeper, more personal level?
Blood Red. Every time I hear that song I instantly relive the feelings that pushed me to write it in the first place. It’s a reminder of the cruelties of love.

How have your life experiences fed into your work?
My experiences with religion, love and heartbreak are what made this album possible. Being raised Mormon has had a massive effect on a range of things in my work, like my imagination and my preference for bold and striking language. Reading Bible verses and Book of Mormon stories from a young age definitely led me to develop a wild imagination, which induced exploitive images in my head. The imagination I have now as a side effect of that religious upbringing is what steers my desire for a deeper concern when it comes to my use of language. I have a need to paint what’s in my head as clearly as possible for others.

What’s next for you and how do you see your music progressing?
Who knows! I’d like to tour and play Unholy live to as many people as possible and have that whole experience. After that, I’d like to start on my second album, which I’d see as my “second book” where I take the things I’ve learnt and felt since Unholy and design the next sonic narrative with Zach.

Collards album Unholy is available to purchase and stream now.