An Interview with The Downshifts
Describe your music in three words.
We would probably describe our music as stripped-back, energetic, and powerful.
Who’s in the band, and what do you each play?
Our band is only two people, consisting of guitarist/vocalist Oonagh Griffiths and drummer Marcus Somerville.
How and when did the band form?
The band formed in the Spring of 2020, just as the first lockdown started due to the virus. It was especially hard starting off at this time, but we have not let it get in the way of our passion and plan to have some amazing live performances as soon as possible.
Where can we listen to your music?
Currently, we have no music out yet. However, our debut single, titled “Sally”, is available to pre-save right now from this link and will be out on the 12th of March. We also plan on releasing more music throughout the year and have our first ever performance being streamed on the 3rd of April.
Tell us a bit about your songwriting process.
The main ideas can really come from either of us. We normally send each other ideas except the only difference is that Oonagh actually knows how to write music. It normally starts with a basic riff which we expand upon, create a catchy chorus, and write the lyrics to. A general rule for us is not to overthink it, sometimes simplicity is what really makes a track.
Name three other bands / artists that you’d say have influenced your music.
There are so many artists that have influenced our music. It really is hard to pick just three. However, the three that influence us most are probably The Stooges, Blondie, and Slaves.
What do you listen to on the way to a gig?
Unfortunately, we have not been able to play live due to the pandemic but we are always listening to music and have a very broad music taste. If it is good music then we will probably love it. However, We can normally be found listening to some form of punk or garage rock with our favourite bands being groups like Idles, The Stooges, Destroy Boys, The Ramones, or the Viagra Boys.
If things go exactly to plan with the band, what would you like to achieve?
Honestly, at this current point in time, we just want to have as much fun as we can whilst sharing our passion with the world. If it goes somewhere then great, but we’re not setting out with the main goal of being hugely successful.
Which bit of music gear could you not live without, and why?
Having electric drums has been huge for us. In a time where we can’t go anywhere to get a practice space and we definitely can’t book studio time, it has been huge for us. Using the MIDI from the drums you can access great quality sound libraries that sound just as good as the real thing and you can practice without upsetting the neighbours. If we hadn’t had electric drums then keeping the band going through the pandemic would’ve been even tougher.
What’s your favourite brand of music gear, and why?
What are your favourite Scottish recording and / or rehearsal studios?
Although we haven’t been in a studio with this band due to the pandemic. Marcus has recorded with Magic Box in Dundee and the work they do over there is incredible.
What’s your personal favourite song you’ve released (or are about to release!)?
We’re just about to release our first single which is coming out on the 12th of March. It is absolutely huge for us to have our own music available for everyone to listen to and we really couldn’t be happier with the result.
If you could only listen to one artist for the rest of your life – excluding yourselves – who would you pick?
For both of us, the answer would probably be Idles. The music they create is amazing and we both absolutely love them. It’s got a bit of everything and is always our go-to.
How do you promote yourselves? Is there any method you’ve found that has worked particularly well?
The best way to promote your band in this really tough time for the industry is to make as many friends as you can. Reach out to curators, bloggers, and radio shows. In a time when you can’t play live, these connections are absolutely huge. For us, it has gone pretty well so far. We have already had our debut single pre-saved to be put on a playlist by both Bridge Music Magazine and Classy Lassy Management & PR. Also, we got an interview with you guys and getting an interview with the music shop that you’ve been buying supplies from for years is definitely a great experience.
What’s next for you? Any gigs or releases coming up?
At the beginning of the first lockdown, we agreed that we were not going to let it get in the way of the band. We have successfully recorded our debut single entirely from home, which is being released on the 12th of March. Also, we have our first ever performance being live streamed on the 3rd April. We have been hard at work getting this event set up but we are sure it will be a great night. You can get free tickets to this event from here.
Have you ever shopped at Kenny’s Music? If so, what did you buy?
We have! Marcus used to live opposite your Dundee store and popped in many times to get little things here and there. You repaired his cymbal stand when he was around 13 and he has been going there ever since. You also repaired his Squier Telecaster and sold him a hi-hat clutch when he was gigging with his previous band on the night that he was playing at Church in Dundee when he left his at home. You completely saved that gig!