"Young Wild Things" is the first track to be shared from Iain Woods' forthcoming single-series project Populism, which will arrive with a series of collages to represent each of the songs.
Written, arranged, performed and produced by Iain Woods himself, the versatile artist showcases his control and vision for his own image and musical and artistic direction.
"Young Wild Things" is a vibrant and glossy pop track, infiltrated with baggy basslines that transport you back to the 80s. The track was mixed by Neil Comber (M.I.A., Django Django) and mastered by Stuart Hawkes at Metropolis (Amy Winehouse, Lorde).
Iain Woods' new track "Young Wild Things" is the first part of his single-series called Populism, which will all be accompanied by artwork created by Woods himself. Check out the new offering below, and read through our Q+A with Iain Woods below that.
BEST FIT: Your new single and forthcoming tracks will be arriving with collages and artwork, what inspired you to provide artwork to visualise the music?
Iain Woods: "This is not a new thing for me. I have always worked in this kind of series format, where the videos, designs, sets, props and costumes take on a life of their own in a gallery context. Growing up my heroes were Rebecca Horn, Matthew Barney, Isa Genzken, Martin Kippenberger and so on; people for whom the practice of being an artist was more like an ongoing burst of output in all manner of media. The Germans have an excellent word for this way of working: 'Gesmtkunstwerk' which means a 'Total' work of art. It's not that much different from the way an album campaign is usually put together; whereby colours and textures and moods will be chosen, but it's just going deeper into it I guess. At art school I just noticed the similarities between a really great album campaign and a 'Gesmtkunstwerk' and started
asking myself questions like 'what if a Cindy Sherman character came to life?' or 'What if one of Björk's album characters made a body of drawings or sculptures?' - it was then that I realised that for me the album and its character would be a central nucleus to a more sprawling hub of activity and research. Any medium, whether it's a three-minute pop-song or a triptych in oil paints, is just a receptacle for a thought."
"It's like that great David Bowie interview with Valerie Singleton where she says to him "there's this tremendous tendency to think of pop stars as being a bit thick, but I assume there's much more to you than that?" and he says, "no, no I'm very thick. I became a rock-star, I could've been a painter!""
BEST FIT: How long did it take for you to put the art together for "Young Wild Things"?
Iain Woods: "The main body of collages, assemblages and works on paper was made over about five or six nights in June and July, but the way I work is very calculated, and in a way is very similar to the way I make music; by the time I sit down to make a series of collages I will have been slowly ruminating over what to put into them on and off for months and months. And similarly I would never dream of even turning the computer on until I had been singing a song in my head for months and months. My ideas are always fully formed and developed before I let them be properly born into some sort of tangible form. So for this series, I knew the wider series was about working-class desire, post-millennial tension, the welfare state, ideological shifts and so on, and so boiling it down to colours and objects that were emblematic of the estate I grew up on in Coventry (where a lot of the album is set) was actually pretty simple. There are also parallels drawn throughout the music and the visuals between the Reaganite/Thatcherite 1980s and now, but I draw them via aesthetic choices rather than saying it explicitly, so there's 80s porn, 'Scally-lad' or 'Hot-chav' porn, wheelie bins, common British garden weeds, chav-chains, burberry caps, maps of Coventry, rude-boi cars, and Aperol spritzers. All of which are mentioned in the lyrics in one way or another, or were things I was envisioning when making the song."
BEST FIT: What would be the biggest thing you've taken away from your new single/project?
Iain Woods: "That pop music is my favourite thing in the whole world."
BEST FIT: The political and personal messages are quite strong in your music - what do you hope to achieve by providing your view of the world?
Iain Woods: "My favourite artist of all time is a Cuban gentleman called Felix Gonzalez-Torres. He is the person who has had the biggest influence on me out of anyone. He's the reason I started making pop music as a form of art; because it's totally equally dispersible between all people. Felix came to the USA from communist Cuba, and later died of AIDS. So there are these incredibly conflicting worlds smashing together; attempts at total egalitarianism and the crazy capitalist boom of the 80s. Felix noted the evil-genius of the insidiousness of right-wing politics; how seamless it is at infiltrating systems via policy-making and introducing abhorrent ideologies by wearing a nice suit and a smile. For him it was obviously most pressing in that him and his boyfriend were both dying of AIDS and Roy Cohn and the Reagan administration were ostensibly passing legislation to withhold treatment that could have been made widely available years before it was. Thank fuck we don't have an AIDS crisis going on right now, but this slow, creeping evil in other guises has basically been happening all around us and right under our noses for the last few years and it's really reached fever-pitch, so I guess that is another reason why I feel this intense connection to 80s New York and to disco at the moment. Finding a way of putting a bit of bite into something as seemingly harmless and innocuous as pop-music. I would just give anything - anything - to bring Felix back for a few hours and sit around and drink coffee and catch him up on everything; tell him that Donald Trump is now the president of the United States, talk him through Brexit (as best I could), and then obviously tell him that of all the gods and idols of the 80s; Michael, Prince, Whitney, Madonna - that only one of them made it to 60. I wonder if he'd be surprised?"
BEST FIT: How does your recording and writing process work? Do you have a routine?
Iain Woods: "Everything I do is conceptual and the recording process has to reflect this, if only for my own entertainment to be honest with you. It's a way of pairing up the things I've been writing about in the songwriting phase with things in the wider world. So for my first album Psychologist, which was about the minds-eye, the sub-conscious, dreams and hallucination, the beats were accentuated by MRI Scanners, heartbeats, the voices of famous psychologists, the sound of a 1950s housewife experiencing an LSD-induced epiphany. we recorded the strings in R. D Laing's Kingsley Hall, and we recorded the brass in Sigmund Freud's bedroom."
"For this album, which is more about society, community, nation and state, I found that I just really enjoyed working in the cafe at Millbank Studios! Most people will know this as the home of parliamentary TV; the BBC, Channel 4, ITV, all the major new outlets have outposts at Millbank so that they can be right next to Westminster whenever breaking news is announced. And they've got a well comfy café downstairs where you can watch the news unfold in front of your face whilst the very same reporters are running around frantically recording news-bulletins into their iPhones and paparazzi are desperately trying to upload photos to send to their editors. The first day I went there I went completely intuitively. I was trying to work on the album at home but was just really restless, then Theresa May called the snap election and I just packed up my laptop and headphones and went and got on the bus to Westminster and walked round College Green watching the circus of the news crews and the politicians from all sides coming out to do their bit. Then I needed a cup of coffee so I plonked down in the nearest cafe before realising "oh fuck; this is literally where all political and parliamentary goings-on are translated into consumable-media for the public, like literally where the madness of Whitehall meets the madness of the modern media, it's in this fucking building!" and so I just ordered another latte and carried on working! A lot of the album has been edited there. In fact, one time I ended up on Simon McCoy's report outside the houses of Parliament so that was jokes. I'm still doing sound-workshops and collecting sounds for this album, I really want to work with people and communities, that's the most important thing conceptually, I think, in a collection of work that's about the cacophony of the modern world. This particular single contains the sounds of the Coventry Ring-Road I'm singing about in the song, finger clicks I recorded in the former Coventry Evening Telegraph building, and Big Ben's final chimes before it was closed for two years' restoration works. Next time it rings, Britain will have left the European Union."