Interview: One Bit

one bit music

One Bit are writer/producers Joe Murphy and Jonty Howard, whose mastery of just about any instrument you can think of, coupled with their studio sorcery, has made them one of the UK’s hottest new duos.

Signed to Ministry of Sound and independent publisher Bucks Music Group, they’ve been steadily building a reputation for solid, upfront club bangers, which have garnered zillions of streams, plus props from both commercial radio and the BBC.

In 2017, they teamed up with Noah Cyrus for the perky pop confection My Way, which went straight in at number one on the Cool Cuts Chart and made its way onto Radio 1’s B list. Since then, the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts (LIPA) graduates have also worked with JP Cooper, Stormzy and Nick Brewer, and remixed Chvrches, Hazers and Dan Caplen.

Last autumn, Joe and Jonty were invited to attend the PRS for Music song camp at the Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE), alongside the likes of Night Slugs’ founder Bok Bok, and topline writers Kelli-Leigh (Duke Dumont) and Katya Edwards (Gorgon City).

During one writing session, they penned the track Between You and Me with Laurell Barker and Stevie Appleton. The final vocals were later laid down by 2015 X Factor winner Louisa, and the track has just been released as a single.

As it goes straight into number one in the Cool Cuts Chart, we speak to the Joe and Jonty to get the skinny…

How did you both get into making music?
We both started out pretty young – Jonty with cello around four years old and Joe with the clarinet around the same time. After that we both picked up a bunch of other instruments, which meant that whilst growing up being in bands, writing and recording became a staple in our lives.

We both crossed paths while studying music technology at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, quickly realised that nobody was going to hand us a job after graduating and so decided to strike up a partnership making music together.

What or who has influenced you most along the way?
Jonty:
I think for me at the beginning my main influence came from my parents’ music so Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, BB King etc. But now it mainly comes from the people we are working with and their recommendations and references. I find it most interesting to find influence across genre or style.

Joe: In the early years my dad used to play a mix of The Beatles, Britpop and classical music to me. By secondary school I was really into all things heavy metal but also loved artists like The Prodigy, Pendulum, Timbaland, Mark Ronson, Eminem, Jill Scott, Newton Faulkner to name a few… I think the main thing is I’ve always had an eclectic taste in music!

Was the song camp at ADE the first one you’ve ever done? How was it?
It wasn’t our first, but it was definitely our favourite! The vibe was great; it really felt like a big family from the sessions to dinner to parties and back round again. We made some great friends and regularly still collaborate with a bunch of the writers we met there.

Who did you work with?
The first session we worked with Gia Koka and Waju. The second was Laurell Barker and Stevie Appleton (it was this session in which we wrote our latest single Between You and Me). On the second day in the morning we were with Jeff Martens, Missy9 and Laurell Barker. And finished up with Stevie Appleton and Robin ‘Yoda’ Peters-Francesco.

So, how did Between You and Me come about? What came first – the melody, beats, lyrics, or something else?
We started off with the beat and popped the chords in for the verse and big piano build, and had the ‘Ooo yea’ for vibe! Then when Laurell turned to Stevie the first thing that came out got quickly twisted into the Between You and Me chorus.

How far did you get with it on the day?
We pretty much had the whole thing finished, a middle eight was later added and the production was tweaked post the session but it was pretty much the full track that you hear today.

What happened next?
Everyone went nuts! In the listening session the room reaction was pretty exciting, we were all really happy with it but getting that first nod of approval from a room of writers you really respect felt great.

How do you feel about it now it’s released?
Crazy excited and a bit relieved! It’s a track that we’re really proud of and Louisa’s vocal really turns it into something special. As we’re writing this it’s really early days so… ‘touch wood’, but it feels really good.

How much has it changed since the song camp?
Most of the melodic writing was in place, it was very much a case of getting the brass lines right and polishing up the production. The structure changed a little, we cut the first chorus in half and added a new breakdown middle eight section but other than that it was pretty much the same beast.

What did you get out of the song camp overall?
Some great memories and a bunch of new, great friends. As well as our new single!

What have you learned from the experience?
It was really interesting working with native Dutch speakers for the first time. Getting an understanding of what did and didn’t translate and how to lyrically compose songs that bridged that gap for both sides.

What’s next for you?
We’re very much gearing up to give Between You and Me a big push. So, lots of promo, events, TV and radio, late night McDonald’s, lots of time on planes, trains and cabs and a bunch of gigs!

The PRS for Music song camp returns to ADE on the 15 and 16 October 2018. There’s one free place up for grabs for a songwriter, producer or topline writer to attend. Find out more.

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