Q&A: An interview with Ten Fé

London duo Ten Fé (Ben Moorhouse and Leo Duncan) have slowly been building a name for themselves amongst the UK’s indie scene over the past few years. With their debut release, 'Hit The Light', looming just over the horizon, When The Horn Blows caught up with  Leofor a chat.

Originally, all the way back in 2013, you performed the moniker ‘Fé’. At what point was ‘Ten’ added and what prompted the change of name? 
When we came back from a long stretch of time in Berlin after recording the album, we wanted a change. So we added the ‘Ten’ as it means ‘have’ in Spanish… so to us it means ‘Have Faith’, and that made sense.

From what we’ve heard so far, you have a very 80/90s sound. Arguably similar to Depeche Mode and The Verve, which are comparisons you’ve probably heard before. It seems fitting as you’ve worked with Luke Smith on a previous EP. What influenced you to stick with that sound? 
We do get compared to those 80s/90s bands a fair bit, and we’re very flattered by that; I think it has more to do with the songwriting than the sound. I think, in that era, songs were crafted in a way that made style less important, undefined and irrelevant almost… look at The Smiths, for example, on any Smiths album you’ll have a new wave song, a rockabilly song, a country and western song, a ballad, a Brechtian musical hall number … the song itself and the character of the singer was the most important thing in that era. I’m not sure if that's found that often these days. So I’d say we haven’t consciously gone for a certain sound. And the sound we end up with has a lot to do with producers we work with, so maybe there’s a similarity between how Luke and Ewan produce records. 

How do you think you’ve made it your own?
Well, following on from the previous answer - but singing them in the way we do. I think we have a way of writing and singing which is our own and which is on every Ten Fé track.

Your new album comes out on the 3rd February 2017. Which are your favourite tracks and why? 
My favourite song at the moment is 'Overflow' - as the song is beautifully written, and Ben’s vocal on it is something else . . . Elvis/Morissey/Sinatra/Springsteen all in one. The sentiment in it I love too: "There’ve been some dry times, but now let love overflow again".

‘Hit The Light’ was recorded out in the Berlin HQ of Kompakt Records with Ewan Pearson. Can you tell us a bit more about the recording process? 
It was collaborative in the extreme - ourselves and Ewan were a pretty tight gang for the 3 months we were recording the album. We spent most of our time before we went into the studio examining the structures of the songs that Ben and I had recorded as demos before we got to Berlin. Ewan’s a bit of surgeon really - very precise, methodical, balanced - he’d open up the songs and really delve deep in there. We loved this approach, as we’re pretty obsessive ourselves, and he was v supportive of what we brought to him, and all the suggestions he made were in keeping with the tip we were on. Once we’d done that to each song, the recording process was straightforward : get in the studio and nail down parts very quickly. The whole record was recorded in about 10 days in the end.

There seems to be a lot more synth-pop in a similar vein to your own music coming out of Germany at the moment, did this influence the band’s decision to record there instead of in the UK?  
Well, hand-on-heart, I can honestly say we know nothing about what’s currently going on in German synth-pop. We just thought it’d be fun to record an album in Berlin!

What’s the meaning behind the album name? How do you think it reflects yourselves as artists? 
The name comes from a lyric on the album. And it made perfect sense to us - like the name of the band does - as I think it represents the spirit of the band. At the heart of what we’re doing is positivity and inclusivity. That’s what the name of the album refers to, not necessarily flicking a light switch on, but moving from a murky place to a more clear one - of seeing the dawn opening as Ben sings.

Let's talk a little bit about the album artwork. Its abstract to say the least, but can you tell us about who designed it, the inspiration behind it and how it fits with the album? 
Abstract?? Its just an egg with bit on mayonnaise on it surrounded by a sea of Ketchup, black pudding and chilli sauce, isn’t it? 
It’s the work of Daren Newman : genius/illustrator/egg-obsessive - a very good friend of ours (check him: http://www.meandmypen.com/)

Can we expect anymore festivals appearances or headline tours after March? 
YES YOU CAN!! Come and catch us at our London show in Hackney at Oslo on March 9th - or on the UK tour…if you live further afield we’re doing dates in France/Spain in April; and going to the US - Bonnaroo in particular - in June…but yes, we’ll be playing live plenty this year - can’t wait.

Interview Feature by Jess McPhee

‘Hit The Light’ will be available through SOME KINDA LOVE / [PIAS] on CD (SKL004CD), Digital (SKL004DA1) and the LP version is a double vinyl LP (SKL004LP). Pre-order the album through Ten Fé’s store HERE. Pre-order on iTunes HERE and get ‘Elodie’ and ‘Overflow’ as instant downloads.