With a love and affinity for all things of the 80s era, Brighton-based newcomers Inky Nite are now looking to cement themselves within that signature sound with their debut single 'Bad Machines'.
With strong nods to the glossy synth-pop sound, 'Bad Machines' makes for an incredibly captivating introduction for the duo. Filled with rich and bouncing hooks, groove-filled production, and some wonderfully soaring vocals, this first release is one of the more engaging debut offerings we have heard all year.
So with the new single doing the rounds right now, we sat down with them to find out more about their origins and what has inspired them most over the years.
What were the first instruments you fell in love with?
Flick: "Harmonica. As a three-year-old, I interrupted my Dad's band's jam session, picked up a harmonica and started riffing along. They were all shocked. It turns out the man who lived in the house before had passed away there and he used to play... the harmonica! It seems that somehow I channelled him and his blues skills. Spooky, eh? Shortly after burning sage to cleanse the house, my Dad bought me a mini Spanish guitar, so that became my main instrument.”
Jim: “Guitar was my first love. I started learning classical at school, taught by an old virtuoso with a dishevelled beard and the trademark long fingernails. My 11-year-old self wasn’t thrilled by the prospect of perfecting Celine Dion’s ‘My Heart Will Go On’ every Wednesday, so I gave up and the poor six-string sat gathering wardrobe dust for a year or so. But then I discovered Kerrang! TV, guitar tabs and power chords and was reeled back in. I’ve had calluses on my fingers ever since.”
What has been the most prominent inspiration behind your music so far?
Flick: “Nile Rodgers. I love so many of his musical creations, from his work with Sister Sledge and Bowie to his more recent collabs with Daft Punk and Disclosure. Such a talented and inspirational guy! One of my biggest pleasures is boogieing around the house to classic Chic."
Jim: “T. Rex. I saw a video for ‘Get It On’ on MTV2 in my early teens and have been completely obsessed ever since. Through one of my Dad’s work friends, I even got the chance to play the ‘20th Century Boy’ riff on Marc Bolan’s actual guitar once. His magical lyrics and melodic brilliance have always been a HUGE influence.”
What kind of music did you love as teenagers?
Jim: “I began the Noughties listening to Now 44 and my self-composed 3210 ringtones before Linkin Park’s ‘Hybrid Theory’ introduced me to a world of distortion pedals, wallet chains and Camden Market band hoodies. After a few years of that, I became hooked on MySpace and spent gazillions of hours trawling through page after page to find exciting new guitar bands. My faves at the time were GoodBooks, Vincent Vincent And The Villains and The Maccabees, as well as Arcade Fire, Patrick Wolf and Vampire Weekend. Still love them now!"
Flick: “This is such a tricky question! But I would have to say indie-pop too. Jim and I had very similar taste as teenagers - I also loved Bloc Party, Jack Peñate, Larrikin Love, Cajun Dance Party and The Wombats. At college, I used to jam with Guy from Disclosure and we'd cover some of those bands at the annual Battle of the Bands!”
Can you remember the first song that made you want to pursue a life in music?
Jim: “Mine was Will Smith’s ‘Wild Wild West'. My Mum bought it for me on tape from Asda in Gravesend because my name's in the lyrics: "Jim West, desperado, rough rider. No you don't want nada!" What a song. Either that or the main theme from Twin Peaks, as my Dad used to play the soundtrack when we had dinner."
Flick: “For me, it has to be The Police's ‘Message in a Bottle’. My Mum and Dad loved them and would play their records all the time. I would always sing and try to play along when they were on the stereo. I'm a sucker for an 80s chorus effect on a guitar. I also loved dancing around to Dionne Warwick and liked to think that I sounded like her... quickly realised I had a long way to go!”
When you wake up in the morning, what kind of music do you like to listen to?
Flick: “I really love starting the day with my Afrobeat mix! It just makes me feel so good - a great one to kickstart the day with for sure! As well as recording Inky Nite songs, I also spent lockdown learning to DJ under the name AFTRGLOW and that was the mix I played for my first Instagram Live set."
Jim: “I've co-run a new music blog called Hidden Herd for the last five years and do lots of my new artist listening first thing in the morning. Flick and I both recently made playlists featuring some of our favourite new music discoveries this year, which you can listen to on Inky Nite's Spotify page. My one includes Keaton Dekker, The Ninth Wave, Circe, CIEL, PETSEMATARY and loads of other brilliant emerging artists."
How many of your songs have you written about people in your life?
Jim: "Quite a few! But not too many that have seen the light of day. Inky Nite lyrics are deep, dark and dreamy social observations, rather than about individual people. For example, on our debut single 'Bad Machines' I took cues from ‘Ghost Town’ by The Specials and the title is an adapted quote from the 1978 film Midnight Express (“The bad machine doesn't know that he's a bad machine”). I started writing the lyrics when the virus struck and the entertainment industry closed, trying to capture the dystopian atmosphere of those still city evenings and their sinister silence (“No neon throb, just inky night, an empty stage and a ghost light”)."
Flick: "When I was younger, I always wrote about people in my life. Mainly about boys from school who I had crushes on and hoped would notice me one day (sad times). I also wrote a tribute song about the late Heath Ledger and, bizarrely, one of my first songs was about The Queen's Golden Jubilee. You can see why Jim does most of the songwriting these days!”
Jim: "Not at all! Flick and her friend Chess co-wrote this incredible song called 'Living In Fear' and it's probably the best song that was never released. It was Adele-level brilliant."
What have been the most memorable moments in your career so far?
Jim: “We’ve just started out, so there aren’t too many Inky Nite career highlights to recount just yet. However, we did get played by Steve Lamacq on his BBC Radio 6 Music show the other day - easily my most memorable music achievement! I'm a big Lammo fan. Flick will have some more interesting answers than me for this one...”
Flick: “Well, I was on The X Factor. It was a bad time on a terrible show, but a funny story to tell! Unfortunately, my first audition glory never made the telly, but I got four yeses: Barlow said he wanted to make an album with me (I passed), Tulisa said she thought I was going to be a star (if Tulisa says it, believe it), Mel B said I was "sexy" (pretty happy with that) and Louis Walsh said "you remind me of a young Taylor Swift" (I’ll take it). After that, I was dumped at boot camp stage and all they aired was a few seconds of me singing Kelly Clarkson (badly) and one person Tweeted that I should "Flick off stage". Thanks ITV!"
Outside of music, what are your biggest passions?
Flick: “My Dad is a wizard, a renowned rune shaman in Somerset, so I've been following in his footsteps as The Wizard's Daughter, reading people's past, present and future with rune stones. It's a shame I can't seem to predict whether Inky Nite will headline Glastonbury one day! I also like to dance. I used to do ballroom and Latin when I was little, so I like to think I can do a mean cha-cha-cha!"
Jim: “I'm really into photography and have also been immersing myself in graphic design blogs (mainly so I can make the Inky Nite artwork). Away from the computer desk, I’ve also recently surprised myself by getting into running and can often be found jogging incredibly slowly along Brighton seafront. At risk of this sounding like my CV, I also enjoy tennis, love a game of Scrabble (although Flick always wins) and am a big Charlton Athletic FC supporter.”
If you weren’t musicians, what other path do you think you might have taken?
Flick: “I used to want to be a rugby player when I was young, but that all changed when I hit high school. I studied Performing Arts at college, so liked to think I would make it in the West End one day. My Great Auntie was an awesome actress called Carol White (heralded as "The Battersea Bardot" back in the 60s), so I had to try and live up to the family rep!"
Jim: “I’d like to have been a wrestler. At the back end of primary school, I was massively into WWF and wrestled by the name Jim Flash West in the playground at lunch. Wrestling was never really a viable career option for me due to my lack of athleticism and mild-manneredness, but perhaps one day we'll get to write some wrestler's entrance theme music? Call us!"
And what advice would you give to other musicians looking to start a career in music?
Jim: "I feel like a fraud offering music career wisdom after releasing one song, but I'd say: 1) Don't procrastinate for a decade like us, 2) Get involved in other areas of the industry so you understand how things work (promote gigs, DJ, curate playlists etc.), 3) Be inspired by other emerging artists and shout about them.
Flick: "I second Jim on this! It's taken us TEN years to release music. Don't delay! Finish songs and get them out there - it's an exhilarating experience. Be passionate, be persistent and push forward. Also, talk to people at gigs - you never know who you might meet!"
Inky Nite's debut single 'Bad Machines' is available to stream and download now. Have a listen to it in the player below.