Biting into Porij

Biting into Porij

Having just released their awesome debut album ‘Teething’, we catch up with Eggy from British indie-dance quartet on the rise

Image credit: Jesse Glazzard

As we head into the Aussie winter, for many people porridge is back on the menu. However, for some, we’ve been enjoying a full helping of Porij for the last few weeks now ever since the British indie-dance four-piece (comprised of vocalist and keyboardist Scout Moore (Eggy), bassist James Middleton, guitarist Jacob Maguire and drummer Nathan Carroll) released their eagerly awaited debut album, Teething.

It’s been quite the journey for Porij to get to Teething, going through the necessary pre-teething stages including the release of a mixtape and a couple of EPs in order to sharpen and hone their sound. That sound is a unique blend of the best parts of electronic dance music and indie-pop-rock vibes. During this time the band were also cutting their teeth on the live stage, making a name for themselves and earning support slots for the likes of Coldplay, Metronomy and Friendly Fires.

The latter two of those three bands in particular seem like a good fit, with the origins of Porij’s sound owing in part to both of these bands and the broader indie-dance scene of the mid-2000s, however when it comes to Teething, it feels like Porij have taken this sound to a whole new level, with deep and addictive songwriting matched by the record’s incredible production that features all manner of audio trickery, while never letting effects and polish outshine the songs themselves.

Over here at Pilerats, we’ve been fans of Porij since they released their 2022 EP Outlines, (that we caught up with them about here). Fast forward nearly two years and we were stoked to jump on the line with Eggy to chat all about Teething, with us on the line after Eggy told us they’d just finished a “big run of shows, yes. We did a big headline tour around the UK, up until like, the day before our album dropped. Then we had a big party in Manchester when it dropped and then we just did a week of in stores. It was really fun.

I really liked that order of things - ramping things right up until album release day, then doing some more scaled back shows where people can actually buy the LP. Eggy opined “I mean, arguably it was maybe not quite logical because people couldn’t buy the record on the headline tour, but they did get to hear a sneak preview. I liked seeing the difference between the instore shows and headline shows because people now know the songs. It was really fun, it was cool.”

So I wondered - just how much of the album did people get to hear on the headline tour? Did they play the album in its entirety live? “No, we didn’t - but we have before, we did that in January. We did this tour around the UK of grassroots venues in January where we basically played the album front to back, because we were testing it because we’d never played it live, and we wanted to support grassroots venues.” Eggy explains. “We also wanted to give something to the people who have really supported our music, so we played it front to back. But this tour - I mean, we did most of them but yeah, not all of them. Can’t be giving people everything!

No, no you can’t… although one could argue they did give what fans want in how their debut album ended up sounding. Something I’m always curious about with bands that straddle the world of dance music, similar to the likes of Hot Chip, is whether the ability to play a song live is ever a consideration in the composition process?

According to Eggy, “When we were writing this record, we’d just come off the back of a summer where we did 27 festivals and a big headline tour and we wanted to bottle that energy. We had our live show fresh in our mind and we’d just had a whole summer of being like ‘wow, this really works live and this doesn’t’, so that was definitely a conscious decision when writing the record - we really wanted those bigger moments on it. I think there was a little bit, coming into this last January tour, where we were like ‘how the hell do we play this live?!’ I have that a lot where I’ll write my synth or keys parts, then I’ll write my vocals, but I’ll write them separately and then go ‘oh god - I’ve got to do this at the same time! How does this work?!’, just like so unintuitive."

If it works in the end, surely that’s all that matters! “Yeah - it just takes some real time, I do a real concentrating phase. I think probably in January, I really looked like I was doing a bit poo, or about to cry, because I was concentrating so much”, laughs Eggy.

After pointing out and having a giggle at the fact that doing a big poo and being about to cry aren’t mutually exclusive, we switched gears to chat about the album title - Teething. Upon revisiting our Q&A with Porij from a few years back, Eggy told us their EP at the time was titled Outlines 'as this is the last body of work we do before our debut album. It's got all the elements of what make up porij’. With this in mind, I asked - is the album titled Teething to reflect a difficult period of growth considering they'd already set their Outlines?

You got it! Yeah, it’s funny - I had the album title before I had any of the songs on this album, I just knew I wanted to call it Teething because I think this is a coming of age album. In essence, it’s all about growth and how painful growth is - but that’s really beautiful, and it’s really necessary. Yeah, that’s what this album is all about”, Eggy admits.

So did having the title first set the tone for the album to come? “I don’t think so, I think I knew the name because that’s what I was living, and the songs were written because that’s what I was living, so I don’t think it influenced things. I wasn’t like “I’ve got to write songs like this”, I just think I was so in that moment that whatever I wrote was gonna fit that theme", said Eggy.

Makes sense! I guess my curiosity was also piqued by the fact there’s no title track on the album, there’s no song called ‘Teething’. “Yeah, I did consider that and I was like ‘hey - not necessary’! I was also thinking on the next album I might have a song called Teething 2. As in like, the meaning will be Teeething TOO, but I’ll spell it with the number two, just for a little throwback. That’s a little secret for us and Pilerats”, Eggy says with a chuckle.

I love it, sprinkling some easter eggs! While I was tempted to ask if there was any other updated on what may become the next album, we’re here to talk about the debut record, so to dig deeper into that, I once again revisited our earlier Q&A. Referring to the debut EP, Eggy told us ‘we’re not showing you everything we’ve got in our arsenal - that will be unleashed with the album which will be full form porij.’ So when was Teething actually written and did they unveil their full arsenal?

We’ve been away for a hot second!”, exclaims Eggy. “Most of the songs were written in a short period of time, but then we spent nine months in the studio with David Wrench who co-produced the record. So that bit is what took time - the actual recording of it, writing it took a few months. Then we really indulged and took the time and explored every little rabbit hole we wanted to go down. We quite literally threw everything and the kitchen sink at it, because I recorded me throwing everything at the kitchen sink and that’s made some of the percussion on some of the songs. It’s my favourite credit in the album line notes - under my name it says kitchen percussion.“

After commenting on how meta that is, I asked if the initial writing process was still the same, the old school DIY bedroom studio writing approach? Eggy agreed, “Yeah, for sure. We were all in different parts of the country, it was a really weird time. Most of us were living at home with our parents. We had no money…. We still have no money *laughs*. There were a couple of tunes on the record where they’re just whole songs that I’ve written, but for other ones, someone would maybe send over a snippet of a beat that they’d made. Then it would just be like musical pass the parcel, people would add stuff and change stuff and the songs would grow that way which is cool, because it’s super collaborative, but everyone has the space to do what they want. It’s not like you’re all sat in a room together jamming it out like that - that wasn’t the style of this record at all, Yeah, bedrooms, but remotely.”

Getting back to the studio, working with a producer for the first time must have been an interesting experience for Porij… But when that producer is David Wrench, whose credits are far too numerous to list but include the likes of everyone from Sampha and Caribou to David Byrne and The Pretenders and even Jamie XX to Frank Ocean? Surely that makes things all the more interesting?

Eggy's excitement to talk about their time in the studio was immediately obvious, explaining "Obviously we’ve done everything in house beforehand. I think the opportunity arose and it was like, why would you say no to that kind of situation? We were such fans of so much of the work that David had done, some of these records were so formative in my life, like the first FKA Twigs record, that The XX record he did, Sampha’s record - we’re obviously into him. Then to find out he’s into us, like hello?1 Yeah, we just wanted to keep everything that was there, we wanted to keep that Porij sound, but we wanted to elevate it for the album. So he co-produced it with us, we still produced the record as well, and I think that’s why it still feels so distinctly Porij.

He was such a brilliant co-producer, because he just elevated what’s already there, he just really polished everything. I’m not talking just sonically, I’m not saying everything sounds shiny - I just think he really brings out the best of what’s already there. We were nervous because we hadn’t really worked with anyone like that before so we were worried they were just going to come in and piss all over everything, but he was an absolute dream.

In essence, we just got to turn up with a bunch of songs and then record them on his sexy gear, which we would never have been able to afford. When we had to troubleshoot, we’d just be like “David, what is happening here, we do not understand this” and David would be like “have you considered EQing it like this?” and we’d be like “woooaahhhh”. So yeah, it was amazing, it was such a cool process."

As long as you didn’t blow any tube amps or ruin any vintage gear!

Eggy laughed "No, no - we were very good. It was funny, he had to go to New York last minute to go and fix the sound for a Jamie XX installation. He left us the keys to the studio so I just sent him a video - I found a wolf mask in the corner so I sent him a video of me and a wolf mask behind his desk like ‘This is mine now!’.

I love it. Something else I loved was lifted from the press material - 'Teething invites you to take a leap beyond seeing dance music as a genre, built from this type of kick or that type of snare, and instead as its own dimension: a place you can escape to. It pays homage to the language of sounds on the dancefloor which have encouraged generations to feel, not to think.' I asked Eggy if that was indeed a guiding philosophy - not getting hung up on letting sample and sound selection get in the way of the creative process, not cycling through 100+ kick samples to find the ‘perfect’ one?

"That’s definitely my philosophy" Eggy explained. "I’m very much like - you can ask any of the boys - but the demos I send over I won’t spend an hour finding the perfect kick, and I won’t EQ it so it probably sounds a bit shit, but I’m more interested in getting the song across and getting the emotion across. Then I go ‘guys? You’re going to have to imagine this is real good’. I think I’m a necessary producer, and by that I mean I produce because I write, and I want to write, so I naturally produce.

I think like James, for example, our bassist, is more of the ‘choosing the perfect kick’ kind of guy, and that’s great. It’s good to have both sides, I think that’s worked out well. I think inherently with this record, we’re saying we write music to make you move - whether that’s sweating in the club, or sweating in your kitchen. That’s what dance music is - it’s music to dance to, at its most basic form, that’s what we tried to do and hopefully it came across. I think there’s also something really exciting happening right now, I think people are becoming more genreless, or blending genres.

It’s happening a lot in the UK - even artists like Nia Archives, you know, she obviously writes incredible dance music, but her jungle music has such incredible pop sensibilities. She’s really blurring those lines and I think that’s really cool. So yeah, there’s definitely a lot of that on the record as well."

Speaking of blurring genres - something Porij definitely nail - I was curious to see if Eggy was still also listening to a diverse range of music, with last time them telling us they’d been listening to the latest Nilufer Yanya record, some Joy Orbison and some Shygirl - all of whose music kind of shines through in Porij’s sound.

"Yeah, I think this is all happening in part because music is just so accessible now" said Eggy. "You don’t go and buy a CD and listen to that CD for ages because you spent all your pocket money on it cos you have all the music in the world so instantly accessible, so you’re consuming so much of it. I think that’s why things are coming out more mixed up. It’s not great for artists, because people think music is free, but it’s exciting as a listener because you’ve got it all. It’s super cool and that’s why I can be listening to Nilufer and then immediately switch to Shygirl."

After establishing that Eggy did indeed grow up spending pocket money on CDs, I wondered what it must be like to have lived in that world, only to now be releasing music in a largely digital landscape?

"It’s kind of crazy," Eggy expressed. "You know what, I’m really gratefully that we’ve just done these in-store shows because it just felt so real. Obviously releasing anything is super exciting, like sitting there at midnight and seeing it on Spotify, like that’s cool. But it was nowhere near as cool as the next day, young to Nottingham and playing an in-store and signing loads of vinyl - that was mad. Just seeing people connecting with your music in real time, when you’re playing, that’s so wonderful and crazy.

Yeah, I’m really happy with those in stores because it’s mental when you look at a queue of 200 people who want to get you to sign their vinyl, that’s what feels real. This is also our first physical release ever and I was just so excited man, I felt like a little kid. It also really give you a sense of closure. When something’s online, I could just take it down, but with this it’s here and it’s everything we could have made in that moment and let’s be really proud of that. It’s nice to have that closure and be able to walk away and be like 'yeah - that was that!'."

Not to mention being able to actually physically hold on to your music!

Eggy laughed "It’s so funny - so many times the boys tried to explain to me, I was like “but guys! How do they put our musc intro the vinyl!?” They tried to explain to me, they sent me YouTube videos like that. I get it, but I don’t get it. It’s some kind of sorcery, like how is it? How is it that when you put the needle on and then that’s our tune? How’s that happened?!"

After agreeing it was indeed magic and seeing that our interview time was coming to a close, I wanted to revisit our first Porij feature one last time, and check in if Egg was indeed still pursuing some of the hobbies and interests they’d mentioned a few years ago, starting with swimming?

"Oh I love swimming! Swimming is good. I’m about to go to Wales this week. I’m taking a little holiday and I’m gonna go stay in a little cottage by the sea and that’s why I picked it - because I want to go swimming!" said Eggy.

What about learning to speak Italian?

"Ah, I remember this period," Eggy said. "I get hyper fixations and I remember that one distinctly. I had this summer where I was obsessed with Duolingo Italian, because I’m really competitive and I like that competitive league system. But now, that got in the bin. In the time in between I’ve had other hyper fixations including chicken club sandwiches, fruit winders… I really wish I could have a cool, useful one."

As a fellow ADHD hyper fixater, I related all too well and lamented on the fact that we can’t pick and choose said hyper fixations…

"Yeah, how many things do you have around your house where like, you’ve bought all the gear and been obsessed only to abandon it months later? Like I’ve got so many little projects around my flat and I’m like ‘what’s this?”. I’ve got a whole lino printing section, I’ve got a whittling section - it’s so silly" quipped Eggy.

Now for the final thing on the list, which I had a feeling I knew the answer to... was Eggy still buying vintage jumpers off Ebay? Well, yes and no... "Yeah, I love it, I am. On that, actually, I’m about to move house so I’m gonna reverse it and sell half my wardrobe just to make it easier to move, so I guess yes and no. I’ll always be thrifting, like my favourite thing on tour to do is after soundcheck and before the gig is to hope around the local charity shops and see if I can find an outfit for the stage that night."

Feeling like we could have kept chatting forever, Eggy and I wrapped up our lovely zoom interview at this point after which I was left to reflect on a dream artist interview scenario, where the artist was as engaged, interesting, friendly and fun as their music is. While Porij may be Teething right now, they’re about to take over.

Porij's new album Teething is out now via PIAS

Porij Teething

Follow Porij: Instagram / Facebook

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