Over the past few years many of us have seen Porij rise tremendously. It was an exciting time to speak with a band that creates such a wonderful sound. What’s more, it turns out that they’re bloody lovely!
The festival season has only amplified what success Poij were already seeing. For those of you lucky enough to have been dancing in a field to hit single, ‘Figure Skating’, you’ll understand why people are taking notice.
Despite it being swelteringly hot on the day of our interview, Porij seemed unfazed by the heat. We just sat indoors and had a good old chinwag.
Firstly, do you still get people calling you Porji?
Eggy: All the time, that’s fair enough. The i and the j look very similar, it’s probably a better name.
I suppose you’ve just gotta take it haven’t you. I think Porij as a band are a bit of a wildcard because you sit in a weird space of playing the same festivals as a lot of indie bands and having similar subjects to them but then sit within the dance genre. Take that into account does it feel isolating to be Porij at all?
Eggy: Yes but in a good way, it’s a bit like in school how there are loads of different cliques, I was never in a clique and just floated in between and had a lot more fun that way. So in that sense we get to experience both sides of things, which is pretty sick and plus we get to gig more.
What is the crowd like at your shows? What do they consist of?
Eggy: It’s a mixture, sometimes we’ll get an older crowd from like 6 music and they tend to be fairly left but also we get people intensely moshing to Nobody Scared. We get a nice mixture.
I’ve read that you guys feel that all music is inherently political in one way or another, with Nobody Scared it’s quite a sad subject but manage to pair it with really nice bubbly sounds, does it make it harder to bring those two opposites together?
Eggy: The thing is even though it’s quite personal and dark it’s meant to empower people and make them acknowledge that it’s a messed up situation but also that we shouldn’t be feeling like that. Lets go against it, it’s all about the reclaim the night movement. So I think it actually fits the bubbly instrumental, it’s a message of positivity.
Do things ever get too intense for any of you when you’re writing about political subjects?
Eggy: I did one recently that go too intense for me so I stopped writing it, it was during the Roe V Wade thing got overturned and I was writing about abortion. I was feeling far too emotional about it so I’ve put it on the back burner for now — I think that’s okay as well. It can get heavy but it’s okay to take a break and come back to things.
When it comes to input from everyone else, whoever might’ve written a tune, do you ever have to clash on what you think might be a step too far?
James: We only ever clash on songwriting and production, that’s just because we all have different tastes but not on the subject matters. The only discussions we have are how to make a clean edit for radio, that just takes ages because you’ll live with a song for so long with the word fuck in it so many times and is a clear part of the song, it takes quite a while to work out how to substitute it and still make it sound good.
Eggy: I’ve also got to stop writing songs that I think aren’t going to be singles, so I put the word fuck in it about 40 times and someone will end up saying “And this is going to be one of the lead singles.”
It’s such a nice word to say though, it’s liberating.
Eggy: It’s so satisfying, that’s the issue and nothing feels as good. It’s like fat-free butter, no one wants that.
Before you guys came to be Porij as music students in Manchester, were you all into dance and garage?
Eggy: For me I was always into dance music and especially got into it in my late teens and I was quite big into the Soundcloud wave as well, finding a lot of tunes on there. When I was first legally allowed to go clubbing, I grew up in London so there are a lot of club nights down there.
Jacob: I’ve always liked dance music and definitely before university I loved a lot of different kinds of music but when I got to university I was swayed and started listening to a lot more garage. I got into Disclosure and kind of went on a u-turn.
Eggy: We corrupted you.
Jacob: Yeah, you corrupted me.
James: Where I lived there wasn’t really much dance music culture, I’m from near Oxford and the only way we got into dance music was at house parties which was mostly drum and bass. Me and my friends were actually looking back at all of those old mixes, Soundcloud mixes by a guy called DJ Sticky and they were called “Free Party Filth” we listened to I think Volume four to seven and there’s a lot more bassline than I remember. Listening to that at house parties from the age of 15 – 18 made us think eventually whether we could do that ourselves and whose house we could get the biggest speakers in.
For those of you who aren’t originally from Manchester was it much of a culture shock moving there?
Eggy: I think a really pleasant shock was how incredible the sense of community was in the music scene there. London has a great music scene but Manchester is obviously a lot smaller so it made it more tight knit.
James: For me it was a similar thing coming from Oxford but its music scene is really really small and it doesn’t have much infrastructure there. There wasn’t really much dance music there either just because of the club culture, especially when The Cellar closed, coming to Manchester was finding the same sense of amazing community but with a wider infrastructure to uphold it.
Jacob: I’m from Wigan, it doesn’t really have a music scene, you kind of have to like Oasis and Catfish & The Bottlemen. Going to Manchester was really great because of the eclectic music and it’s really a reassuring community where people will help you find a place and thrive. Loads of cool venues, crazy amounts of cool venues that we’ve all played.
Speaking of venues, they wanted to shut down the Night & Day Café, how did you feel hearing about that?
Eggy: I was raging! You know what really pisses me off? When people move next to music venues and then complain when those venues play music. The reason you’re moving there in the first place is because it’s a cool area and it’s a cool area because there’s a thriving culture there. It infuriates me when people move somewhere, gentrify it and then they complain about the thing that made it cool in the first place.
It’s basically what’s happened in and around Brixton now really.
Eggy: I grew up in Peckham and the same thing is happening there. It’s really sad because these places have become so wanted because the people that can afford to live have such rich cultures and all these artists that don’t have the money to live there have a space in the scene and make it thrive. It gets bulldozed into a white-washed middle class thing.
I think a lot of these middle class gentrifiers just find it easier to buy things up instead of letting a healthy ecosystem grow around already existing cultures.
Eggy: Yeah we’ve got to respect peoples culture, I am a white middle class person and I’m speaking from a place of privilege as well, instead of taking from it.