Candy Says is a lo-fi chic pop DIY band from Oxford. They record their unique brand of home-made pop in a bungalow garage with a couple of microphones and an old MacBook. As well as being one of the most exciting new bands in the country, they’re putting the most interesting spin on retro we’ve seen with their cassette single releases and their new ZX Spectrum-inspired video.
Candy Says are Juju (Sophie) and Ben Walker, both formerly of Little Fish, Elisa Zoot and Mike Monaghan. They’ve released a download single called Melt Into The Sun in March this year, which was followed a couple of months later by a cassette single Favourite Flavour and played their first sold-out live shows in Oxford and London as well as supporting Lady Lamb The Beekeeper and performing at Cornbury and Truck Festivals.
September sees them release their third single Kiss Kill on download, cassette limited to 100 copies and a super 20-only limited edition double cassette. The single is accompanied by a stunning video created using a ZX Spectrum. Like the previous two singles, it’s a clever piece of electronic pop that doesn’t take itself too seriously, but which could never be described as throwaway. Its centrepoint is the interaction between Sophie and Elisa’s vocals, duelling at points, harmonising in others.
Ben from the band explains the concept behind the video. “We know a guy in Oxford called Matt Westcott who makes Spectrum demos and chiptune-style music, and it’s always intrigued me how that relatively small scene of retro computer geeks is kept alive online by a really active and generous community. It’s completely separate from mainstream pop culture, yet it has quite an influence at the edges – there are loads of chiptune artists on Bandcamp, for example, who make music with Gameboys and other retro gear and through collaborations and crossovers there are now all sorts of musical microgenres that use the chiptune sound or combine it with more modern sounds to create something new.
I thought it would be fun to subvert the standard idea of the music video a little by getting Matt to create a Spectrum demo based on Kiss Kill. It really suits the song, which sounds like a lo-fi version of an electro dance tune complete with an auto-tuned chorus. The pixellated Spectrum graphics and the sound of the Cher-style autotune are a perfect fit.”
Live, Candy Says become even more intriguing than on record. Although their name is most obviously linked to the Velvet Underground song, Candy is a life-size mannequin who appears on stage with them. As on record, vocal duties are shared between Sophie and Elisa. Before and after their set, they share packets of retro sweets such as Swizzles with their audience. Sophie’s stage presence draws in the audience to ensure the one thing you won’t be at a Candy Says show is bored. The infrequent live shows are always sell outs in advance and have already seen influential tipsters from Hitsheet, VPME, XFM and our own Louder Than War in attendance.
They’re presently recording their debut album in their garage in Oxford, which they hope to have finished by the end of the year.
To keep their fans updated with their progress, Ben has created an app that, as well as providing updates on tour dates, includes a new garage demo each month with liner notes from the band explaining the genesis of the song and the writing and recording process.
In addition to Candy Says, keyboard player and vocalist Elisa Zoot has her own band, Black Casino And The Ghost, who have just released a fantastic new free download single entitled I Like You Because You’re Free.
Candy Says are out on tour in October to support the release of Kiss Kill. They play the following shows:
1 September – Lodestar Festival, Cambridge
19 October – Gathering Festival, Oxford
23 October – London The Lexington
24 October – Manchester Fallowfield Trof
25 October – Glasgow Nice And Sleazy
All words by David Brown. More of David’s work for Louder Than War can be found here.