After a long run of very fortunate coincidences whilst studying at university, Porridge Radio ended up being the culmination of four very strenuous and bizarre connections between bandmates. Blossoming from Brighton’s DIY scene, they released their first album in 2016. Made from humble beginnings (being recorded on an 8-track in a shed), Rice, Pasta and Other Fillers showcased Dana’s opaquely raw, tangible and completely unconstrained emotion. Always gulping desperately at the air of her final breath, her music not only invested deeply within her herself, but also her audience. She explains: “I’ve always wanted to make music to be vulnerable. I want to allow people to see my vulnerability through the things I make and that is where I’m most honest. I think you should be as emotional as you can be because maybe it will help others access that in themselves which I think for a lot of us is quite a difficult thing to do.”
Porridge Radio’s new album will continue to harvest Dana’s projected vulnerability, but this time through a cleaner, more discernible lens. “Everything about this time around was so different,” she says. “We actually demoed it, can you believe. We went into a studio and recorded it properly. We got someone really amazing to mix it and then got it mastered by the same guy. We actually took our time with it. We didn’t just record it all on an 8-track in a shed. We actually got the chance to give feedback on the mixes to ensure it sounded like we actually imagined it to.”
Both of the new singles, ‘Give/Take’ and ‘Don’t Ask Me Twice’ are clear testament to Porridge Radio’s development, and have a bit of The Cure about them. Released just this week, ‘Don’t Ask Me Twice’ showcases the sort of punky complexity Porridge Radio have before now been sitting on whilst Dana tells me that ‘Give/Take’ is a sort of watered-down glimpse at the rest album’s mammoth full body.
Pondering years past and the struggles of gradually pulling a record together, Dana often found solace with her ultimate muse: the sea. “The sea will always be a big part of how I make things,” she tells me. “It’s such a huge, overwhelming force. When you’re at the sea, you’re at the edge of land and you’re at the furthest you can be from anything and that’s really powerful and strong. I think there is something quite religious about going underwater too. In Jewish tradition, you go in a Mikvah, it’s like a baptism. When you go underwater, you’re refreshed and your body changes. Your heartbeat slows and physically you change. There’s something very powerful about that.”
But making this record has not sounded easy. Most significantly, in October of last year the band announced that they would no longer be working with MJ, the producer and former leader of Leeds band Hookworms, due to shocking allegations of sexual assault. For the first time, Dana’s exterior hardens, but candidly she tells me, “it affected the album in a huge way because MJ was going to mix it. Mixing is a huge part of crafting the sound of a record and it would’ve sounded really different if he’d made it. But I’m really happy with how it sounds now. It sounds how it needs to sound, but it would’ve sounded different if MJ had done it.”
Not yet signed, it really feels like Porridge Radio might just be on the cusp of something bigger than Dana is yet to realise. But record deals aside, she explains why the DIY scene remains paramount to her band’s evolution. “It’s always going be important because it’s where we came from. People saw us as a shitty band with chaotic songs who couldn’t play our instruments, but they still said, ‘that’s a band who’s going to mean something to people’. Nobody from the music industry saw us and thought that’s a band we should get behind. Only the DIY community said we’ll put you on and help you out. People go out of their way in that scene and don’t expect much in return because they enjoy it and believe in what they’re doing. I’m really grateful to have been a part of that for so long and I will evolve out of it to move to the next level.”
Whatever lies in store for Porridge Radio doesn’t worry Dana too much, but she’s apprehensive to go on blabbing about it. “I watched Sigrid do an interview the other day. She said, ‘I don’t really want to tell people my dreams because what if they don’t come true’. Yeah, I can relate to that.”
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