For Kent’s alt-pop prodigies APRE, 2020 has proven to be productive. Multi-instrumentalists Charlie Brown and Jules Konieczny met at a chess club, so getting to work away from the limelight and in a quiet space was not completely alien to them.
When the duo sat down for a virtual chat with Forge Press, it became abundantly clear how the band provide such a polished pop sound, they are deep thinkers and music obsessives, who produce their own songs and mirror society’s ills in their work.
“Generally, we have quite an upbeat sound but the lyrics themselves can often be really negative,” Brown explained. “In the mini album we’ve just released, the lyrical content is pretty dark in places.”
The often-sobering lyrics provide a juxtaposition favoured by Jules Konieczny, who is self-admittedly not fond of social media and the pressures it brings. “It’s my whole thing of putting the negatives in a positive light, like you would, for example, on social media, which I struggle with massively,” he said. “Filtered life, showing off, people trying to make themselves look like they’re winning, I don’t think it’s very good for mental health.”
He did, however, concede that the mirroring of social media’s pitfalls in APRE’s tracks was not intentional.
“Having a negative frame of mind but taking a picture of it and covering it in a filter, jazzing it up, making it out to be this amazing thing which it isn’t, that wasn’t something that was done intentionally,” Konieczny clarified.
“That was an accident, but when I think about it, I really like it because it’s real. Life is like that. People are going through shit and there’s lots going on in everyone’s heads, especially now.
“It’s been a really terrible time for millions of people, so I like the idea of how audibly, we can dress it up, even though it is still kind of showing it in a negative light.”
APRE’s mini album, ‘Always In My Head’, was released earlier this month. Consisting of eight tracks, it will act as a forerunner for the band’s actual debut album, which they hope to release in 2021 if it is possible for them to tour it.
Although the songs were written before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, it was finalised when the virus had taken a firm grip of the UK. Lockdown allowed the duo to focus on their music, and both have tried to see the benefits of something so difficult.
Brown elaborated: “From a creative point of view, it’s been really great. We’ve had so much time to write music and get those songs together without ever having to jet off to different countries and play live.
“That’s been annoying, of course, because we love playing live, but it’s been really good. It’s meant we can focus without knowing we have to leave in a weeks’ time.”
Konieczny added: “From a very negative situation we’re in, if you’re creative, it’s quite a positive place to be because the outside world is closed off.
“You don’t have any other choice than to sit down and be creative and try to express how you feel. All in all, it turned out to be really good because it gave us that time and that freedom to be creative.”
Although their debut record is yet to be completed, the duo still offered an insight into the mood and sound of the LP.
“It’s definitely still going to sound like APRE, but the main album sounds rawer, a bit more indie,” said Brown.
Konieczny added: “It’s hard to tell because the songs are finished but it’s not in the final mix yet. I’m not entirely sure, sonically, how they will sound. They sit in a similar realm with the mini album being about escaping, being free and moving to another place, and kind of leaving all that negative energy behind.
“The actual album is definitely following a similar light, in terms of what we stand for as people. We are all about being anything we want to be. There’s that idea of when you come to a gig, everyone being in the same place and believing in the same thing.”
The Sunday Times described APRE’s sound as something that melds Tears for Fears and Foals – an assessment the duo agrees with. “I think those bands are quite accurate,” Brown said.
“I think what’s been really nice is that we’ve never set out to sound like anyone, we’ve never said we want to make a song that sounds like Foals, or that we want to make a song that sounds like Coldplay, or anything like that. Our influences subconsciously sneak into our music, but we never set out to make music that sounds like Tears For Fears or Foals, it just happens.”
The pair’s passion for their craft is evident throughout the interview, and their influences range from Bon Iver to Beethoven.
Brown explained: ““If you took our brains and laid them out, if you went in and looked at all of the influences and all of the music we’ve liked, it’s so vast.
“I like rap, I like poppy stuff, I like chart stuff. He likes Peter Gabriel, he likes Tears for Fears, he likes some Beethoven. We like Bon Iver, we like Foals, we like Ben Howard. Basically, what I’m saying is that there’s so much stuff, that there will be something we make that sounds a bit like those influences.”
Underneath their passion and enthusiasm, however, is understandable worry. Like many, they share concern for the future of the live music industry. For APRE, touring is vital as they want live gigs to accompany the release of their eagerly anticipated debut record.
“I really don’t know which way it’s going to go,” Brown said. “If people haven’t got much money, are they going to buy gig tickets? But on the other hand, people are going to be desperate for gigs. It could go either way.”
APRE’s mini album, ‘Always In My Head’, is out now.