Take a dive into the band's incredible world with vocalist Mikey Chapman and guitarist Luke Hicks.
Today Black Sky Research have released their debut EP 'One'.
If you want to find out more about how the band came together, you can read our interview with vocalist Mikey Chapman from earlier in the year right HERE
But yes, on to 'One'. Five tracks of expansive, exploratory and elevated songwriting that follow the events of the apocalypse over the course of a night and through the lens of several different characters, it's a body of work that pays homage to the passions for science fiction and storytelling that the band's members have but also opens up a whole world of creative opportunities for them as we look forwards.
So to find out how exactly it all came together and what each song represents, we jumped on the phone with Mikey and guitarist Luke Hicks and dissected it track-by-track...
LIGHT UP THE SKY
Luke: “Basically, we really wanted this song to feel like it was the end of the world.”
Mikey: “I feel as though what Luke did with this song musically allowed it to be a great introduction to the record. It starts out pretty mildly and moderately and allows you to really set the scene. Then when that drops hits, especially after things being in an almost dreamy state for the first couple of minutes, it dictated a whole lot more emotionally.”
Luke: “You almost expect dynamics to conform in music. ‘This bit has to do this’ or ’That bit has to sound like that’. The whole fundamental [of this project] is not doing anything that people want us to do or what might sound right. In terms of the way that the concept and the story has evolved, it makes so much sense. Everything feels ok and then all of a sudden it’s like, ‘Fuck, this is new’. That’s what you want music to do.”
Mikey: “There are been a few moments in my life where people have tried to discuss the specifics of a song with me. The answer I will always give is, ‘What does it make you feel?’ What imagery appears in your own mind’s eye when you hear that beatdown or that melodic part? For me, when I was able to approach these songs from a purely lyrical and story based standpoint, I really wanted to entwine a lot of that ambiguity into the parts of the song whilst also allowing some ingredients to sit there quite blatantly.
So, in this song London is falling down and there’s shit coming from the sky and this guy is trying to find this girl within all of it, but how do all of those components interlink within an individual’s mind whilst they are sat there listening to it with their headphones on? That has got to be that individual person’s world. Everybody’s eye is different.”
Luke: “So if ‘Light Up The Sky’ was the apocalyptic event at the start of the night, this is pretty much the story told from the perspective of the person who has actually done the attack. It’s almost like an explanation for why it has happened. That’s why it goes into these different parallel explanations about why the perpetrator actually did these attacks and how he feels about them. It’s about expressing that aggression. I feel as though that is portrayed both lyrically and dynamically."
Mikey: “With so many different elements, it’s been quite the task from the perspective of trying to piece all of these things together. The thing about this story and this band is that it’s just a couple of sci-fi fans who’ve never done any sort of storytelling before. Lyrically in one way or another you sometimes do, but to do it with such a specific path in mind is more difficult. It was also difficult to make sure that there was enough throughout various moments so every song mattered.”
Luke: “This song is more about the reflection of whoever has survived the attack explained in ‘Midnight’ and wishing things could have been the other way around.”
Mikey: “The thing about this record is that it has gone through so many iterations. It started with Luke just writing and playing music. Then it came into my sphere of understanding where I would digest it and then lean largely on the sonic emotion that was there to help me pick out a storyline as we went alone. Though listening to these songs before there was any lyrical content, it was clear that Luke had covered a whole host of different lyrical bases.”
“In this modern day and age we are all ‘watching the world end’ from our TV screens. We watch the news and then get angry and mad and think, ‘Maybe it’s the right that we get blown off the face of the planet’. Then there’s a fear element, which is like, ‘If that happens then my mum and dad would go’ My girlfriend would go.’ So we go through this whole spectrum of emotions and I think with reference to that ‘Twilight’ is the sadness moment. It’s like when you watch Attenborough. You’re entertained yet aghast as you watch these things unfold in front of you.
“I think that the imagery at the start of this song, which in my mind is this guy crawling out of his bunk because his alarm has gone off and he’s looking on these screens that are monitoring the state of the world and he is mortified at what he seeing but he is still somehow not surprised.”
Luke: “I think from a musically perspective, I am constantly banging on about emotion. You watch films, for example, with these amazing composers like Hans Zimmer writing these epic things and you feel the emotion of it all. That’s always been a huge inspiration for me. That sound that those composers make makes you feel exactly how you’re supposed to feel. That’s what we wanted to do with ‘One’ as a whole. Get that same emotion you do from watching something but getting it from just listening to a track.”
Luke: “This is where a new character, the protagonist, and a new storyline starts to come in.”
Mikey: “The notion of ‘Transmit’ was the point between giving up and deciding to go further. This is the moment where this guy believes that everything is done and he’s the last bloke alive and has nothing else. He sends out this desperate plea just on the off chance that someone may communicate back and it ends up being his love interest. It suddenly turns everything on the dime for him. It turns into this position of there being some hope left.”
Luke: “This is where things become a bit more cinematic and a bit more hopeful. One of the things that is really fuelling me to continue this story [on the next EP] is that at the end of this song is a little cliffhanger. So depending on your perception of it, and the way that I perceived it whilst writing it, is that right at the end with the drop is the protagonist has met who he believes is his love interest that he contacted in ‘Transmit’ but it’s actually the baddie. You’re not entirely sure if he has lived or died and that’s what has fuelled me looking forwards. I really like that ambiguity and that hang, and with the stuff that we are already doing with BSR2 is evolving off of that.”
Mikey: “It could be argued that having the cliff-hanger and flip on its head is quite contrived in a way, but at the same time it was the only way it could really go. From ‘Light Up The Sky’, which builds this feeling of security and then has that twist, it’s almost like returning to the beginning. You spend a lot of the time in this last tune in hope but then we were able to use it as that classic tip of the hat to a lot of how fantasy and sci-fi stuff can be framed. So with it setting up for BSR2, we have a few ideas together already and I have a loose idea of where the story is going to go right now. But in the space of a tune hitting my Dropbox, that story may change infinitely. It’s as much a ride for us writing this as we hope it is for listeners to create their own world within the framework of what we are putting out.
“I like to think that you’re going to be able to do with this album is that ‘70’s thing where you sit down on your sofa at night, unplug from the rest of the world, put some headphones on and look at the album art and the lyrics of his project and you create. That’s a part of music that I feel has been lost.”