Members: Angeline Armstrong, Edward Quinn, Josh Moriarty
Interviewee: Angeline Armstrong
Occupation: Singer, songwriter (Angeline), Producers, songwriters (Quinn, Moriarty)
Current Release: Telenova's new singles "Haunted " and "Why do I keep you?" are out via Pointer.
If you enjoyed this interview with Telenova and would like to keep up to date with their work, visit their official website. The band are also on Instagram, and Facebook.
Where does the impulse to create something come from for you? What role do often-quoted sources of inspiration like dreams, other forms of art, personal relationships, politics etc play?
The impulse to create is always there for me. I come from a filmmaking background and I guess I sort of see the world through a silver screen lens.
For better or worse, it’s kind of impossible for me not to see people and places, as characters and scenes and stories. I find the smallest details in life drive me to want to respond with creativity - it’s like there’s this ongoing conversation between what I’m witnessing and how I talk back to it.
Whether that’s a nuanced behavioral thing in a friend which is telling of where they’re really at; the scent of some perfume caught on the wind long after the passer by has walked on; a mirage of colour in a gallery gilded frame; an overheard conversation on the train; or the stab of some pain in my heart that I haven’t got a name for yet.
Life drives that impulse to create for me. So, fortunately, that’s an infinite pool.
For you to get started, do there need to be concrete ideas – or what some have called a 'visualisation' of the finished work? What does the balance between planning and chance look like for you?
When I was younger I definitely used to have an approach of needing a concrete idea of how things were going to turn out, plan accordingly, do everything I could to make the vision in my head a concrete reality. But the truth is, it always evolved and changed.
I think I walk the line now between having a strong vision of where it’s heading but holding it loosely so it has a chance to have a life of its own. I wouldn’t so much call it ‘chance’ or ‘accident’, I think that stuff that comes out of a work unexpectedly is more about the subconscious. Subconscious influences or emotions that haven’t seeped through into the cognisant awareness yet. Things that you don’t have words for yet.
I’ll often retrospectively realise that lyrics I’ve written - that I thought were kind of out of nowhere - were actually processing or teaching me something about a relationship or experience that I hadn’t acknowledged or processed yet. I think a lot of artists relate to that.
Do you have certain rituals to get you into the right mindset for creating? What role do certain foods or stimulants like coffee, lighting, scents, exercise or reading poetry play?
As a band we love to start the day with a little stroll in the sun and a coffee. Just gets the mind feeling a little more elastic and lets you leave the worries of the morning behind you a little bit.
I think the looser and more relaxed you’re feeling, the better placed you are to try new things and not overthink what you’re doing (which for me, is a real killer of creativity).
What do you start with? How difficult is that first line of text, the first note?
With Telenova, we’ll usually start with a groove and some chords to set the mood of the song. I think our collective mood of the day often dictates the sorts of chords and sounds and grooves that we gravitate to.
The first note in the topline for me is pretty easy, I find writing topline melody one of the cruisiest and enjoyable parts of the songwriting process. I think it’s just so deeply subconscious, I just open my mouth and let the sounds come out without thinking too hard. If we’re lucky (or I’m feeling particularly relaxed that day) lyrics will often start to spill out in those improvised melodic moments too. But yeah, there’s also a lot of crossover in our roles as a band and how we guide one another creatively.
The chorus hook in “Why Do I Keep You?” started off as more of an instrumental hook moment that Ed had written on the midi-keyboard, it was so strong that I decided to just sing over it and we just went with it for the chorus.
When do the lyrics enter the picture? Where do they come from? Do lyrics need to grow together with the music or can they emerge from a place of their own?
I definitely think it can be either. All the songs that we’ve written that mean the most to me on an emotional level are the ones where lyrics and music grew together from the ground up. But sometimes that just doesn’t happen! I think you can always feel the genuineness of the feeling in songs like that.
But I also think an approach of escapism, and a fun groove, and playful storytelling is just as valid as an art form as being super introspective and self-expressive in the moment.
What makes lyrics good in your opinion? What are your own ambitions and challenges in this regard?
Coherency and harmony. And using the literary tools you have to evoke feeling and beauty and brokenness. To tell a story whilst still allowing space for interpretation and personal experience from the listener.
I think the biggest challenge for me is coherency. It can be a simple song about heartbreak based off a very real personal experience, or it can be a fever dream of the imagination painted like a silver screen with all kinds of surreal and unexpected moments, but for me, good lyrics are coherent and harmonious within the song. The song needs to know what it’s saying and how it’s saying it and remain true to that throughout.
“Lost Highway” is an example where we went through so many different lyrical versions of that song.
But we always had this mood of a single car beam on a dark highway - a ‘lost highway’. As soon as we asked the question - who is driving the lost highway, where are they going, what are they running from … the threads of the story started to come together because we had a core ‘character’ we were working with.
I say ‘character’ in inverted commas, because even when writing lyrics with more of a storytelling/narrative approach, those characters are always inevitably drawn from parts of myself too. Sure, I’ve never ‘killed anyone’ as the chorus sings, but we’ve already hurt people in that way metaphorically-speaking. We all walk that ‘tightrope between who we are and who we think we should be’.
Many writers have claimed that as soon as they enter into the process, certain aspects of the narrative are out of their hands. Do you like to keep strict control over the process or is there a sense of following things where they lead you?
It is a strange feeling and hard to describe exactly what’s going on there - but yes, that does tend to happen. With “Haunted” we started off with that line ‘I’m haunted by you lately’ but in an earlier chorus it appeared in the context of ‘I’d die without you baby, can’t give you up’ with the intention that the song was about a love that you just can’t get enough of.
Slowly as the lyrics of the verses started to take shape and the chorus developed, the lyrics we were gravitating towards took on more of a relevance to a struggle with addiction and substance abuse. It was a truer experience for Josh and I to tap into at the time and so we let the narrative lead us deeper down that road.