It was allegedly Louis O’Bryen‘s “cool haircut” that first drew Asha Lorenz to her musical partner in crime. Sorry may have started out as a bit of fun, but thanks to the UK outfit‘s simultaneously avant-garde and catchy debut set, 925, there’s no apology necessary.
Sax blasts, beats that sound like a malfunctioning timepiece, a meandering piano riff, creeping bass, sporadic cowbell and double-handclaps – Right Round The Clock, the opening track on Sorry‘s debut album, 925, is arresting; simultaneously avant-garde and catchy. You can immediately tell that these Londoners are melophiles.
And then the deliberately lackadaisical dual vocals of Asha Lorenz and Louis O‘Bryen saunter through the arrangement, sealing the deal and completely winning us over. “I‘m feeling kinda crazy, I‘m feeling kinda mad/ The dreams in which we‘re famous are the best I‘ve ever had.” Experiencing déjà vu? Same here! That would be because these Right Round The Clock lyrics nod towards Mad World by Tears For Fears (“And I find it kinda funny, I find it kinda sad/ The dreams in which I‘m dying are the best I‘ve ever had“).
“Our bassist [Campbell Baum] really likes Tears For Fears,“ Lorenz enlightens, “but I don‘t love them. I think we were just trying to make an ‘80s banger and that just kind of came out. We didn’t really think about it that much, and then we just thought it was quite funny for the end of the song, and it fit quite well.”
Turns out Lorenz and O‘Bryen‘s songwriting/beatmaking experiments started back in high school. “I met Louis in Year 7,“ Lorenz details, before specifying the pair would’ve been aged around 11 or 12 at the time and adding, “We were friends, but we became better friends over the years.“ So was it music that brought the pair together? “He had a cool haircut,“ she laughs, “so I liked his hair.“
When they started messing about making music together in their parental homes, Lorenz says volume wasn’t an issue: “We were just making stuff on the computer or playing acoustic guitar.” When asked to identify some of the bands that she was into around this time, Lorenz offers: “I was obsessed with Nirvana and Elliott Smith, and then got really obsessed with Alex G. And I‘m still in love with Alex G now.“ So which instrument did she pick up first? “I played a bit of guitar, then I played drums for ages and then we just started using the computer to produce songs and stuff, and so then that was just kind of like my main instrument. And Louis got really into using Ableton and making beats.“
925 plays out like a mixtape or compilation album; it‘s difficult to pigeonhole, genre-wise, and something tells us that‘s in line with the Sorry ethos. Of the duo’s go-to songwriting process, Lorenz ponders: “Um, it depends on the song, really. Sometimes we start on guitar or from a drum beat on a computer or something, ‘cause we make demos at home… Me and Louis try to start from different ways so [the songs] come out differently and we don‘t get stuck.“
Often it’s quite difficult to discern specific instruments within the overall mix in Sorry‘s songs as well, which is all part of the allure. For instance, is that a sax part in Rock ‘n‘ Roll Star? “Oh, yeah, nice!“ Lorenz sounds chuffed. “We put it through a pitch-shift and do some weird stuff with it as well.“ What about that guitar part in As The Sun Sets, which sounds like a cat miaowing? “I think Louis just layered it with a synth or something and then pitched it higher; manipulated it through the computer,“ Lorenz offers. “I don‘t think it was a pedal, though; we like pitch-shifting a lot.“
Before 925, Sorry released a series of DIY-style visual mixtapes (2017‘s Home Demo/ns I and Home Demo/ns II), which Lorenz and her buddy Flo Webb created the visuals for. Lorenz also directed and produced the film clip for Sorry‘s latest single Snakes, which features jangly guitar, ominous synth, skittish drums and those trademark dual vocals. A cut-up newspaper headline that reads, “Pet snake measures body against owners before eating them,“ opens the clip, which also stars a ginormous albino snake. Lorenz explains they sourced said snake through a snake handler: “The snake was in a plastic box and it was actually quite a sweet snake.“ What was its name? “Bertha,“ she chuckles. “I think it was a female, yeah. It was long, it was massive.“ Were there any scary moments during the shoot? “Well it was a bit scary, because it was quite heavy and it made weird hissing sounds,“ she admits, “but the dude who brought the snake was quite cazh [short for casual], like, he seemed to really get the snake‘s vibes. He knew what he was doing with the snake so it didn‘t feel too scary.”
Sorry‘s live incarnation is rounded out by Baum, drummer Lincoln Barrett and Marco Pini, the latter being a friend who “just joined recently“, Lorenz illuminates: “He writes all the electronic samples and stuff.“ When asked what she remembers about Sorry‘s first-ever gig, Lorenz details, “We played in this weird hotel, downstairs, and it was the worst gig ever ‘cause we drank too much before and then me and Louis had a huge argument. And it was probably just a shit gig anyway, ‘cause we weren‘t very good. But all of our friends came… that was like, four or five years ago. We used to put gigs on ‘cause it was fun, and we just kept playing loads of gigs as long as our friends could come!We didn‘t think much of it in the beginning, to be honest; it was just fun.”
925 by Sorry is out now via Domino.
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