“Dundee was like going to New York or one thing as a result of I did not know the rest” – David Maclean of Django Django
“Growing up on the other end of the bridge from Dundee, I always felt semi-Dundonian,” recalls David Maclean, drummer and electronic programmer for the art-pop group Django Django, who spoke from his home in London ahead of the release their fourth album Glowing in the Dark.
“I knew Dundee like the back of my hand, far more than I know most of Fife – I still don’t really know Dunfermline or Kirkcaldy.”
A son of Tayport
The son of artist Marian Leven and brother of John Maclean, who had his own musical fame with the Beta Band and recently directed Michael Fassbender in the film Slow West, studied at Edinburgh College of Art, where he met his Django Django bandmate Tommy Grace , Vincent Neff and Jimmy Dixon.
Two Scots, a Northern Irishman and a Yorkshireman, didn’t form the band until they’d all moved to London.
“When I think of moving home, I think of moving somewhere in Dundee, looking across the water to Fife, or vice versa,” continues Maclean, whose self-titled debut album was nominated for the 2012 Mercury Music Prize.
“I’m biased because I grew up with my bedroom overlooking the Tay, but it’s just a wonderful view. When I was young, I always knew I would return to this area. “
He loves the V&A but has fond childhood memories of the Olympic swimming pool and nostalgia for lost Dundee attractions like the Seagate Gallery and record stores like Chalmers & Joy and 23rd Precinct; At Stage 2000 he took drum lessons.
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“Dundee was like going to the big city,” he says now. “Like I’m going to New York or something because I didn’t know anything else.”
Maclean had plans to return to Tayside before the pandemic and is even more determined now because “London, when everything is closed, is … not great.”
Although their recording studio is in London, it will not affect Django Django. Grace has already returned to Glasgow while her last album, Marble Skies from 2018, was made with Maclean, who lived in Fife while he was between the houses.
“The rest of the band had Anna Prior from (the band) Metronomy on the drums, and I was in Tayport to work it – try parts and chop up others,” he says.
“We were all there for this album and it was much more of a live group work. I think it’s just a little more focused and deliberate, maybe like going back to the first album.
“A song like Asking For More is probably one of Vinnie’s best achievements in songwriting. Then there is a track called The Ark where I fiddle around with a 303 and play the drums over it – it was the kind of music I did before the band where I had no song structure, it was more about a groove. ”
Outstanding song Spirals
Another highlight from Glowing In the Dark is the single Spirals, which revisits the sense of analog funk mixed with a club-influenced electronic groove that made her earliest signature track Default so irresistible, while Waking Up Charlotte Gainsbourg the singing shows.
“I wasn’t there when the others wrote this song,” says Maclean.
“They had demonstrated it and it was a lot slower, almost like a country song, and I was just starting to imagine Charlotte singing on it. I said ‘why don’t we ask her to do it?’ And luckily it was easy to get hold of because she’s on the same label. She was ecstatic and really liked the song so Vinnie went to Paris and beat it out in one day. “
While Maclean hasn’t met Gainsbourg yet, there are plans to video her for the song.
As with the album tour, however, many things are put on hold; In fact, Maclean vividly remembers receiving the mixes for this album early last year, then opening the news and reading about Wuhan.
Since then, the Djangos have created a mountain of ideas for new music, recording two songs produced by David’s brother John (who is otherwise busy scriptwriting and home schooling).
“This may be a chance for us to make an album that is different, one hundred percent acoustic or one hundred percent electronic or one hundred percent instrumental,” he says.
“Something that doesn’t have the pressure to be the next album that you tour and play festivals with. It’s an opportunity to do something stranger. “
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* Django Django’s fourth album Glowing in the Dark is now available on Since Music. www.djangodjango.co.uk