Isabella Ambrosio talks to Delta Sheep about the music industry, imposter syndrome and creative freedom.
Hailing from the UK, Delta Sleep are an independent band with an alternative twist and a profound way of presenting their music. My interest in Delta Sleep originated a few months ago, stumbling upon their track ‘Forest Fire’ in a playlist from No Earbuds, a PR company. I was captured by the slow guitar picking at the beginning of the song, echoed by smaller harmonies in the background. It felt as if something I was meant to find in that moment. I wanted to sit down with Delta Sleep and pick their brain.
Dave Jackson, the bassist, was the first to enter the Zoom meeting room. The dark red walls of the room were somewhat comforting. We made easy small talk about schedules and how hectic it can be to organise things, even when it seems like the world has stopped around us. Devin Yüceil, guitarist and vocalist, joined the meeting room next, his microphone picking up the bustling sounds of Rome behind him. I asked Yüceil what he was doing in Rome, and he explained he was currently in the process of moving there. I asked, ‘What does that mean for Delta Sleep?’ Jackson was quick to joke, ‘Oh, we’re breaking up. We’re done.’ We laughed before they explained that things would remain the same for the band.
I asked for a quick introduction, out of formality, knowing there isn’t much out there on the band. “Like, what we do in the band, or?” It caused a laugh, before __ added, “You don’t want a whole biography of our lives, no?” Another laugh. “Well, I’m Dave [Jackson], I play bass in the band, and I do a lot of the managing stuff.”
In the current industry, it’s hard to find any kind of artist that doesn’t have a manager or some sort of higher power to answer to
“And I’m Devin [Yüceil] and I play guitar and sing, and like Dave said, we sort of manage the band. Dave’s more the admin guy, for lack of a better word, and I’m the artwork-y, visual aspect of things.”
So, this prompted me to ask, “You do everything yourselves?”
Devin nods, “We pretty much do everything ourselves, we have booking agents, which Dave communicated with when we do tours, otherwise, we pretty much do everything ourselves.”
In the current industry, it’s hard to find any kind of artist that doesn’t have a manager or some sort of higher power to answer to. It piqued my curiosity, “Do you find that’s an advantage or a setback for you?”
Jackson steps in, “I think it’s an advantage in most ways. It’s definitely more stressful. We have jobs and our personal lives are quite busy, but it’s nice to have that flexibility. Whereas if someone else were telling us when to do things, it might get a bit stressful. I think that’s kind of where bands start to have the business side start to take over the fun. So, I think with us keeping control, we kind of decide, between the four of us, what we want to do and when we want to do it. It keeps it in our core.”
Yüceil adds a point afterwards, “It does get stressful, sometimes in a way, we are in charge of motivating our own selves and if we have jobs on the side, we have to fit a lot of stuff in. I think we have a lot of experience now and we know what we want and what we like, it’s kind of nice to have full control over everything. We’ve been approached by managers before and it sounds like a nice idea on paper, but if the person isn’t the right [fit], then it can end up being more destructive than anything. Because they might pull you in a direction that you don’t necessarily want to go and that creates added pressure. And it feels like having a fifth member in the band. At the moment, we’re all friends and we all get on really well. It’s just retaining that creative freedom.”
I asked about the creative freedom, noticing the pattern of concept albums with their previous releases, ‘Ghost City’ and ‘Twin Galaxies’, both albums that follow a storyline, which is somewhat hard to find in modern music.
“At the moment, we’re all friends and we all get on really well. It’s just retaining that creative freedom”
Yüceil deep dives into his process, “I’d say the concept is purely lyrical. So, I write all the lyrics as well and that was just a way of me knowing that we had a whole album to write and I just wanted to get my head inside a world, in a way. Concept to me, has quite a duality to it, because the connotation of the indulgent, progressive metal which I find can be overbearing at times, because it can be quite pretentious, I guess. I approach it in more of a thematic way. I’m really into film, and I do films on the side. And so, I like to approach it with a bunch of themes and a bunch of visual and location aspects, as well as emotions that I’m going through at the time. So, I like to project them onto a bigger canvas and make a world come out. There’s always a reference point to go back to. I could be writing a song about something emotional that has happened to me, but there’s always a way to refer to this canvas of colours or locations to take inspiration from. At the end, it ends up feeling very much like a concept, which it is, but it’s more relating all these themes together and having a connecting thread between everything.”
I asked about the instrumental aspect of the album after Yüceil’s explanation of the lyrical content. A few articles online described them as math rock, which I found interesting. Jackson answers my question.
“The math rock thing is quite American, really. In England, the classic math rock band is a little bit techy, like stop and starting, lots of weird pauses. I guess the first album [Twin Galaxies] had some of that kind of stuff in it. Like ’21 Letters’ on ‘Twin Galaxies’ is quite math-rocky stuff. And we kind of fell into that world from there. And there was a festival in England called ArcTanGent which embodied all of these bands and made a festival out of it. It was a cool scene which we were a part of, but I don’t think we were ever really that math rock, to be honest. I think we’re more clever indie. And it sounds bad because it’s not like we don’t want to be tarnished with any brushes, but I think we started in that scene, and we played with loads of great bands, and it was a nice scene to come out of. But I felt like we were imposters, really.”
I queried about imposter syndrome after Jackson’s last remark, “I think we’re just big emos, honestly,” Jackson jokes. We continue the conversation, discussing the reality of imposter syndrome and how most people suffer with it. It was a deep conversation that lasted a while, gaining insight into how normal people in bands really are. As a music fanatic, it is sometimes hard to distinguish the people behind the art from the art itself. Yüceil and Jackson had lots of insight on being a normal guy in a band, especially having jobs outside of the band itself. The conversations about their lyrics, their style as a band and their independence helped me find a new respect for independent artists. And damn, I hope they succeed beyond their wildest dreams.