Photo by Alessandro Ganoulis
Still Pigeon, the Oxford-born, indie-pop band looking to make their mark on the music scene, have been writing and producing music since 2018. They combine funky beats with fun, often random lyrics, creating music bursting with enthusiasm and originality.
Following the release of their latest single, 'Adrenaline', from their upcoming EP The Patterns We Keep, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Millie Wild (lead vocals), Danny Cummings (piano) and Harry Wragg (guitar), where we had a chat about how all things music, how the band came together, and everything that came after that.
How did you guys meet?
Danny: Harry and I tragically met on the first day of uni both wearing the same H&M shirt. One thing lead to another, and we bonded.
Harry: There was basically only one option at that point: start a band.
Danny: And then Harry met Will [Bennett; drummer] separately and was like, “I know a drummer! We should totally jam!”, and then we did totally jam! A year later when Millie and Johnny joined we thought we should make this a proper thing.
Harry: It was a very exciting moment where we all had that conversation; I felt quite nervous telling the others that I kind of wanted to keep the band going.
Millie: I still remember having to audition, I was so nervous! I went into the room and I said, “By the way guys, I'm not that good at harmonies!” and Will just looked at me like, "Can this b*tch even sing?"
How were you able to balance studying at university, and now working, with music?
Millie: Music is just such a rewarding endeavour, I feel like it just naturally prioritises itself.
Harry: I don’t know if we actually do balance it!
Where did your band name come from?
Millie: One day at university, Harry turned to me and said, “God, that pigeon looks like a rat". Apparently pigeons are known as the rats of the sky. I just thought to myself, it's kind of tough that pigeons get such a bad rep: they’re kind of cute! After that, Harry and I would go and feed the pigeons on campus — swarms of pigeons would come to us every morning, and we became known as the pigeon people. We were even reported to the college because of the flocks and flocks of pigeons on campus, and we had to stop feeding them. We wanted to commemorate that whole experience.
Harry: Yes; in many ways, we’re still pigeon lovers even though we couldn’t feed them anymore.
Millie: And then we all got pigeons tattooed on us!
How would you describe your discography up until now?
Millie: When we first started out we described ourselves as indie R&B and soul, which was a very odd genre. Now we're very much indie pop, but we’re trying to tap into something more funk and soul, kind of bluesy. I'd say the overarching word here is indie though; we've never been precisely into one type of genre.
Danny: We used to do more bedroom-pop music, because we were literally in our bedrooms in the pandemic, going slightly crazy, but now we’ve got the space to be a bit more out-there and polished. We’re going more towards the alternative part of indie.
Harry: I don’t know if we’ve really ever made a concerted effort to sound a particular way, I think it’s been characterised by our listening tastes and what inspires us.
Danny: I would say we’ve also gotten sadder as the years have passed!
Millie: Yeah, we have a range within our music — some of our ballads stand in quite stark contrast to our other more vibrant, upbeat songs, and I think that reflects our diverse interests as a band.
How does your upcoming EP, The Patterns We Keep, differ to your older music?
Danny: I would say it’s definitely more focused than the last EP, which we wrote within a year of forming the band. I think you can hear how we’ve progressed, and we've focused more on collating songs that work as a whole. We’re more cohesive.
Millie: There’s quite a bit of synth in it as well which we haven’t really done before. And even some of the more melancholic songs are in a major key with more optimistic beats.
Harry: They have more of a live feel as well!
What’s your songwriting process like?
Danny: It totally depends on the song! Sometimes it’s just one person, other times its more [of a group effort], where Will [might have] had an idea, then jammed with Harry, and then Millie’s written the chorus, and finally Jonny [Drake; Still Pigeon's bassist] has gone and added more on top of it.
Millie: My favourite moments are when we’re jamming in the recording space and we only have a couple of lines of the song written, and then someone will suggest changing the bass or chorus, and in half an hour I’ll spit out some very random but fun lyrics, and we’ll come out with a song that we love.
What’s your favourite song that you’ve written?
Millie: There are so many, but 'Patterns' is one of the most fun ones to play and record, as well as 'Adrenaline', which came out on Friday.
Harry: 'Adrenaline' is one of the ones we enjoy playing the most. The rehearsal can be quite a good litmus test; if we’re enjoying it, I think that comes across when we perform it live as well.
Danny: Jonny’s a particularly good litmus test — there’s a few songs that he will just get ridiculously excited about!
What’s been your favourite gig so far?
Danny: I think our first proper gig after lockdown, at Paper Dress Vintage. Usually I don’t get very nervous, but for this one I felt ill before going onstage, and the sound engineer, who was also in control of the light, [decided to] put on some strobe lights... It felt like we were living in a film, it was out-of-body!
Millie: Festivals are my favourite because we get to spend the whole weekend together.
If you could tour with any artist, who would it be?
Millie: There are so many! Wet Leg stick out because I saw Honeyglaze supporting them, so that would be really cool!
Harry: I think it’s the return of guitar music, and Wet Leg is a great example of how indie music is pushing back into the mainstream again, so we would be very excited to play with them.
Millie: We really love and respect Olivia Dean as well. And The Strokes would be incredible, they are by far the best live act we’ve ever seen.
Danny: We also love Lime Garden; they’re excellent, I’d love to play a gig with them! [And] Du Blonde, or Desperate Journalist... But truly, there are so many.
What are you most excited for this year?
Danny: I’m excited to try songs that the audience hasn’t heard before; it’s such an exciting feeling.
Millie: I would say summer! We’re on a couple of festival lineups already, like AllSorts, and a few that we’re waiting to hear back on.
Harry: We’re just excited to keep performing. We’ve been working so hard on all of this new material, and we’re so excited to finally be able to perform it live!
After the interview, Still Pigeon kindly invited me to the launch party for their new single, 'Adrenaline', at the Arch 555 in Brixton. The cosy, intimate venue was complimented by its exposed brick walls and arched ceilings. Before their set began, the band members were scattered across the venue, chatting to excitable family and friends who were exhilarated for their performance. The tiny bar was stocked with £4 beer (the cheapest I’ve seen in London!) and manned by supportive friends sporting the band’s latest merch.
From the moment they took the stage, Still Pigeon came alive. Performing everything from some of their oldest tracks from 2018 to unreleased singles off their upcoming EP, the crowd loved every second. Still Pigeon are mastering what many artists have such a hard time doing; fully engaging their fans during live performances. The lack of phones recording the gig was incredibly refreshing. The crowd was living in the moment, fully absorbed by Still Pigeon’s bright, enthusiastic performance which created an electrifying atmosphere. The proximity of the stage to the crowd gave an almost Boiler Room vibe, allowing Still Pigeon to feed off the intoxicating energy that they were creating in the crowd, and to connect even more with their fans who sang their lyrics right back to them.
‘Adrenaline’ ended up being a particular crowd favourite. With a highly contagious rhythm, the track had the crowd jumping up and down even though it was only their first time hearing it. The single has a nostalgic pop vibe, with heavy synths inspired by the 80s. It’s an incredibly catchy track that induces main-character syndrome, making you feel like you’re in a movie. The tune makes it impossible not to flip your hair from left to right while listening to it. The song was so well received that the crowd demanded an encore, and Still Pigeon happily obliged. Still Pigeon truly are enchanting to watch live, and I am very grateful to have been able to see this special launch performance. This is just the beginning for the band, with some very exciting things to come for them this spring and summer — starting with their new EP, The Patterns We Keep, which is set to be released in May. Keep an eye out for it, because we definitely will be!
Edited by Talia Andrea, Music Editor