“I don’t think we really have a genre as a band, and I’m planning to keep it that way.”
Ahead of the release of their debut single, ‘No Coming With You’ on the 29th of May, FUZZY spoke to Nick Hampson of the up-and-coming, genre-defying project, Now Ex. Hampson met Harry Brokensha at university, and they’ve been combining the crafts of film-making and music to create the soft, cinematic sounds of Now Ex ever since.
FUZZY: Now Ex was started both as an outlet for your songwriting and as a vehicle for creating music for your feature films. Could you talk a little bit about this?
Music was everything when I was growing up. From the age of six, I was performing internationally in the classical music world. I always wrote songs and played in bands. In my final year at uni I started shooting films and music videos, and about a year after graduating we sold a feature documentary a friend and I directed called EUROTRUMP to Hulu and VICE. It was labelled a ‘must-see political documentary’ and suddenly I was a film director without necessarily ever intending to become one. I went on to spend the next year getting to do a much bigger film in the US that’s premiering at Atlanta Film Festival in September. It dawned on me that this is the best time to be creating across multiple mediums and that I should be ultimately combining the two [music and film], and thus Now Ex was born. Cinema runs through the lifeblood of this project, and we plan to use Now Ex to score my future film work, creating a new form of cinema/pop crossover that combines sonic and visual worlds.
FUZZY: You're based in East London. How do you find the London music scene?
Because of how new this project is, and with the timing of coronavirus, we’ve actually yet to really explore the music scene in East London. I remember playing a solo show in the basement of a fish and chip shop in Stoke Newington when I was nineteen. We played a lot of shows in our previous band at legendary venues like the Troubadour Club. Now Ex had its first show as part of a big Extinction Rebellion event in February at the Vaults in Waterloo. We’re really looking forward to getting back on stage.
FUZZY: You met Harry Brokensha, your main collaborator, on your first day of university at Oxford, and later went on to headline the O2 Academy. Any favourite Oxford bands?
The Oxford music scene is incredibly historic, and that was actually a large part of my decision to go to university there. There are a whole host of diverse venues across the city, each with their own charm and character, that have nurtured some of our favourite bands like Radiohead, Foals, and Glass Animals. You definitely feel that legacy when you’re there. I hope that the live music scene there is able to survive everything that’s currently going on.
FUZZY: How has your background as a classically trained musician informed your music?
Many people say my voice is operatic. As a teenager, my musical idols were people like Leonard Cohen, Conor Oberst and Elliot Smith, all who have very deep and gritty voices. My voice was naturally from a whole different place and that bothered me for a long time. Our arrangements have a classical flare, and Harry brings a lot of cinematic scoring techniques into our production. Our music has a sort of drama that’s not uncommon in symphonic music; a sense of continually building towards a musical epicentre of cathartic release of some sort. I don’t think we really have a genre as a band, and I’m planning to keep it that way.
FUZZY: You cite James Blake and The Japanese House as influences. Any other musical influences?
Harry and I both grew up liking different things. Harry has super eclectic taste. The 1975 are a pretty strong influence for us right now. They are basically genreless, and they use a lot of cinematic textures and instrumental interludes. Bon Iver is an important influence for us. I also absolutely adore The National, Sufjan Stevens, and Radiohead, but I also have a real interest in hip hop and more mainstream pop music. People have said I sound a bit like a British version of The Weeknd from time to time, and I definitely don’t hate that comparison.
FUZZY: The Now Ex debut single is out on the 29th of May and an EP later in the year. Congrats! Could you tell us a little bit about it?
If I had to summarise ‘No Coming With You’ it in a sentence I’d say it’s an electronic pop ballad. It’s an emotional song about a faced paced, haphazard love affair between two people that have just come out of bad breakups from much longer-term relationships. There are a lot of narrative themes I tried to tackle when writing it, from toxic relationships to fears of ageing to masculinity to the digitalisation of our human experience. It’s about being a young person fighting their way in a metropolis, and everything that tends to mean culturally and experientially, the good and the bad.
You can follow Now Ex on Twitter here.
Stream ‘No Coming With You’ now.
Words by Eleanor Noyce.
2nd June 2020.