Andrew Gonsalves sits down for a chat with Del Marquis and Babydaddy from Scissor Sisters as they prepare to release fourth album ‘Magic Hour’
After nearly two years away from the studio, the Scissor Sisters return this week with their new album. We caught up with Babydaddy and Del Marquis to talk about Magic Hour.
To our ears, the album itself feels less manic than their previous offering, Night Work. It’s a calmer, slightly softer sound. If Night Work was akin the dance floor, Magic Hour is more like your friend’s sofa; for chilling out. It’s a more tranquil, though equally enjoyable high.
Del says: ‘As a pop group, we could live in our former glories or push ourselves to stay relevant.’ And this is exactly what they’ve done. It’s a more complete record than Night Work was, and shows a growth and maturation of the band’s sound, which ‘leaves the way open R&B and dubstep influences.’
The record took about five months to produce from start to finish – which is quick for them. ‘We’ve learned that it’s better for the process to just do it, and not over-think it’ says Babydaddy. Though you get the feeling that the record came together so easily because they’ve grown in confidence, both as a band and as individuals within it.
The band – and this album – are very much Shears’ babies. However this isn’t a problem. ‘He’s the creative centre, says Babydaddy. ‘We all play a part, and he couldn’t do it without us,’ says Del. ‘And we can all influence the band’s direction. But it’s easier to let Jake lead – it’s how it began and how it goes on.’
In the past they’ve described London as their spiritual home. It’s where they first rose to prominence, and where the weight of their monumental fanbase stems from. The UK is – unusually for American artists – the place where their new material is rolled out first. As Badydaddy says, we ‘embraced’ them.
It’s hard to be certain why this is. Even the band can’t put their finger on exact reason. The innate conservatism of the USA certainly has something to do with it, but that doesn’t explain why London embraced the group more than say Montreal or Berlin, which are possibly even more left-field than London.
‘I think it has something to do with the fact that London has this vibrant and close-knit community of people that work in music’ says Del, ‘In the way that New York has dissipated over the past 15 years, London is still a place of artists of all levels.’
Both agree that the UK, and London in particular, is a place where people can get away with being ‘eccentric or different’ – indeed there are parts of the city where to be ‘normal’ (whatever that may be) is what marks you out as different.
America, says Babydaddy, is somewhere ‘You’ll struggle to fit in if you go against the grain.’ Though happily, there’s a consensus among, among this pair at least, that things are changing.
As Del admits, the Scissors – while being out and proud – have never been particularly political, but America is reaching crunch point on so many subjects, including the topic of same-sex marriage, and you cannot not be talking about politics.
‘There are divisive forces at work that are coming to a head’ he says. ‘But if I was to predict the outcome I would say that there’ll be a more liberated, European-style of living in America.’
The band’s transatlantic lifestyle means they have a more international perspective than some of their countrymen and women (at the beginning of 2011 it was estimated only 30% of US citizens had a passport). Del, however, says that in spite of the sometimes insular nature exhibited by some Americans, the country has a President and a Secretary of State who recognise that their nation has to adapt and move on in order to maintain its place in the world.
Both think Obama will win a second term, and, as US Presidents can’t serve for more than two terms, both think that this one will be the game changer; where the real change that was so celebrated in those now-iconic election posters will come to pass.
The guys say that they can feel the winds of change already at work. Del, who’s from small-town America, says ‘When I was growing up I didn’t know one openly gay person until I moved to New York. When I go home now that’s all changed.
Magic Hour is out on Monday. It’s available to pre-order on Amazon.