Sometimes a change in scenery is all it takes to help us tap into a new creative spirit. That’s certainly true for Caroline Cawley, guitarist/vocalist for Nottingham, UK’s Dystopian Future Movies.
Born in Ireland, Cawley was involved in Dublin’s independent music scene on the industry side and worked as primary school teacher for a decade before she moved to Nottingham six years ago. There, she turned her energies to her own music, versus other peoples’, and formed experimental post-rock trio Dystopian Future Movies with bassist Emily Azadpour and drummer Bill Fisher. “Nottingham is an inspiring place, musically,” she says. “There is a thriving DIY scene where everyone supports each other, bands and promoters alike. Even though I ran the Dublin side of London’s Club AC30 with my friend Dave for years, it never felt right to play music myself at that time. All that changed after moving to Nottingham.”
After releasing a self-titled debut EP to rave reviews from critics and peers in 2014, Dystopian Future Movies released their second EP, “NYD” last spring. The record’s title track starts slowly before building into an turbulent, emotive, end. Similarly, Cawley notes, the process of writing it caused her to break into new creative territory. “‘NYD” came from a raw place lyrically and seemed to just flow out of me on New Year’s Day as I sat strumming a melody I had come up with a few days previous,” she says. “It was a sort of catharsis and marked a change in how I write. Writing it felt like something became unblocked, I was more guarded and tentative before that point…Hopefully the emotional confusion of the song comes across in the ebb and flow.”
Adding to that confused, disjointed feeling, are the band’s use of unconventional chord structures and tunings. “I often use DADGAD tuning. It’s also known as Celtic tuning, and being Irish, maybe that’s why it struck a chord with me. [It’s] also used by Jimmy Page, Mark Kozelek, and one of my true heroes, Rory Gallagher. There’s a haunting feel that suits my vocals.”
The video for “NYD” was shot by the bandmates and edited by Fisher. Presented in black and white, and mixing footage of scenic highway drives with closeups of the band in their recording studio, its aesthetics are reminiscent of vintage horror movies, though unlike the band’s cinematic name, it wasn’t an intentional parallel. “There’s probably a little bit of Hitchcock in there but it wasn’t deliberate to be honest! It’s very simple really, and based more on the music than lyrics. It’s quite rhythmically synced at the start, building with song into the chaos at the end,” Cawley says
Following a co-headlining tour this month with Glasgow’s Fvnerals, Dystopian Future Movies will get to work on its first full-length release, which Cawley says will come out early next year. “We’ve already recorded the tracks so we’re in the middle of the mixing process now. We recorded it in our own space, the Room of Doom, where we recorded our first EP in 2015. Bill was at the helm and is also mixing it. We are very excited about it!”
Check out the video for “NYD” now.