Hailing from Belfast, Bobsled Team are the DIY-duo of Oliver and Kimberley. Back in the Summer of 2020, the band emerged with their debut single, The Pink Moon, catching the ear of BBC introducing and a series of the best small blogs around. After releasing a smattering of further singles, earlier this month the band shared their much-anticipated debut album, The Colours Blur.
Recorded in a series of late-night sessions at Oakland Studios, The Colours Blur is a beautiful collection of the band’s influences, merging the worlds of slacker-rock, dream pop and even a touch of alt-country. The resultant sound is distinctly Bobsled Team’s own, with processed beats, layered reverberating vocals and driving lead-guitar lines, coming across like a more DIY take on the middle ground of No Age and Grizzly Bear.
With the album out now, I recently spoke to the band about following their creative impulses, loving being lo-fi and why they have no interest in being famous.
FTR: For those who don’t know who are Bobsled Team?
Bobsled Team are duo Oliver and Kimberley from Belfast. We play dreamy guitar noise. There’s a Fender turned up loud, some bass, drums, lots of melody, a French horn, chimes, reverb, daydreaming, a pink moon, waves, hot chocolate and prayers to the goddesses of song and dance.
FTR: You’ve just released your debut album, The Colours Blur, what can you tell me about recording it?
We were doing something we really loved, just following our creative impulses. We live in a pretty cool part of the city, we can see the yellow cranes from our house, lots of bohemian people floating about the streets – artists, photographers, other musicians – and it was cool to take a break and go to coffee shops, the record shops, the art galleries with these song ideas in our head.
The songs began life as demos on an old 8 track Boss machine made in the 1990s. Pretty much the running order of the album. It uses zip disks that are no longer made, and we have to source them from random places on the net. The little machine is great – there’s an honesty to the recordings. The punch in button is bust so you play the song straight through, no cutting or pasting. The limitation of having only 8 tracks with no screen is actually very rewarding, it forces creative decisions and makes you rely on your ear.
We got into the idea of analogue recording and made a trip to Julie McLarnon’s studio in the wild countryside of the Mournes. A random donkey would roam into the studio if you forgot to shut the door. We demoed two songs on Julie’s 16 track—she shared a bunch of stuff, not so much technical, more about creativity, capturing the moment and allowing for happy accidents.
So, when it came to recording the album, we kept that aesthetic. We bought more equipment, upgraded from the 8 track to capture the drums. It was recorded DIY late into the night. It’s lo-fi and we love it.
FTR: What made this he right time to record an album, what did you do different compared to previous releases?
I think testing the water with This Pink Moon, You’re so Cool and Drive showed us that, although live music was on hold, the spirit of community was being kept alive by places like For the Rabbits and other nice blogs and alternative radio shows. They pick things they love, and that enthusiasm is infectious. The people that check these places out are super passionate—it feels like you are part of something real, artistic, and communal. We have kind of built a small organic following through word of mouth and the blogs.
FTR: Where does the title come from?
The title and album artwork sort of represents what goes on in my head. I have no idea where the songs come from, and they appear in colour like a blur of painted melody on a canvas. Is that a thing? It’s also in a line from our song Never Mind, “the way we were / watch the colours blur.”
FTR: Who are the influences on your music? What were you listening to when you wrote this record?
I’ve always been drawn towards the underground alternative scene. Like Sonic Youth stapling these little zines together and creating their own language with guitars. We love alternative bands like The Pixies, The Breeders, The Rain Coats, Yo La Tengo, Beach House and the Cocteau Twins. They are definitely a big influence. But new sounds too, for sure—I found Indigo De Souza recently on For the Rabbits and was blown away. We buy random vinyl records, Mambo for Cats, Jacqueline Taieb, Cha Wa. We listen to a lot of music.
FTR: It’s obviously a strange world to be releasing the album into, how has the pandemic affected your plans?
We liked the idea of going totally analogue, but obviously access to the studio during that time became an issue. It all worked out though, we made it totally DIY. I guess, like all bands now, we had to delay a bit for the vinyl to be ready.
FTR: What’s the best way for people to support musicians at this time?
We are so grateful when someone follows us on our bandcamp, buys our music, adds us to playlists or sends us a nice message. The album is out on vinyl, we pack and ship it ourselves, adding a handwritten note of thanks or perhaps some lyrics scribbled for an extra curio. We hope this makes it more special and personal. We just love music ourselves; we go to our local record stores like Starr Records in Belfast. They know us by name, we talk music over a coffee. We are super excited to go back to gigs and support the bands we love.
FTR: Once you can get back out on the road, what can people expect from the Bobsled Team live show?
We don’t take ourselves too seriously, but we love what we do. I hope that will come across on the stage.
FTR: Why do you make music?
It’s just part of who we are. Our music is heartfelt, and we are carefree when it comes to melody. I can’t imagine a world without music.
FTR: Do you have any other creative outlets beyond music?
Kimberley handmakes woolly hats, hair bands, rag dolls, felted cats and crochet blankets. When the world seems about to come to an apocalyptic end every few seconds on the news, it is comforting to see all these colourful things made with love.
FTR: What are your ambitions for this record? Is music still a viable career?
One of my favourite stories is Kurt Cobain walking into an antique store to find Ana da Silva from The Rain Coats because he loved their record so much and couldn’t find one to replace his worn out, scratchy copy. You know, that’s it for me. For someone to find our record and love it. We are not interested in being famous—just that human connection. That’s why we love the blogs so much. They only write about music they like and it’s a nice community of like-minded readers.
FTR: What’s next for Bobsled Team?
Some live shows for sure. A fingers crossed tour in more ways than one.
The Colours Blur is out now. For more information on Bobsled Team visit https://bobsledteam.bandcamp.com/.