The reign of Snakehips in a world of touring and collaboration
You’ve heard a series of memorable singles, streamed and broadcasted them millions of times, sang along with their collaborators and may have even flexed some limbs amid their live show. Whichever degree you may have encountered, you know that SNAKEHIPS can workshop varietal moods into their party.
A chance encounter in a foreign country drove Oliver Lee and James Carter to fall within arms reach of each other. Soon recognising their similar artistic goals and interests, the pair dove into songwriting, where they would soon make huge waves with their 2015 single ‘All My Friends’ featuring Tinashe and Chance The Rapper.
Adopting the talent of SYD (The Internet), Anderson .Paak, MØ, Sinead Harnett and ZAYN at different moments throughout their career and we have a pop staple incredibly skilled at moulding their craft with the musical strengths of their friends.
I believe you two met by chance in Hong Kong. How did this meeting occur?
Just randomly really, we were in a bar one night. I guess we were just both from England, so just ended up chatting somehow. We started talking about music and I guess found we were kind of into similar stuff. Had a couple beers, and kind of went from there!
And you met again not long after that?
Yeah so we were on the same flight home, back to London from there. So yeah we met one night, and then met again just by chance a couple of days later and hung out when we got back to London.
You just couldn’t escape each other!
Yeah exactly, can’t get away from him.
Where were you both at musically at the time of this encounter? Had you been working on your own solo material?
Yeah I’d done a couple of beat tapes as Snakehips just before that, so I’d kind of been doing some hip hoppy type stuff. James [Carter] had been doing some similar beats like that as well, so we just joined forces.
You’ve just released ‘Don’t Leave’ with MØ. A tale of a struggling relationship, did the lyricism come from a place of reality or fiction?
It’s just super relatable I think, it’s something that everyone can understand and had been there at some point, you know? We didn’t base it on a specific thing that happened to one of us, but still something everyone has or will go through at some point. So it just felt really honest, it was just cool to write a song about that.
Is this a stand alone single or can we expect a body of work in the near future?
We’re going to put out some new music hopefully next month, a few new things. It’s not going to be part of an album yet, but we’re going to start putting out more music. We’ve basically just been finishing off a load of stuff and working on a load of new things, and working out what the best way for us to release stuff is; whether we actually want to do an album or whether we just want to do EPs, you know? There’s so many different things you can do these days, we don’t want to feel too pressured releasing a full album if it’s not the right time.
So at the moment, are you at the writing stage or have you recorded new music?
We’re recorded and written a lot of new music, but yeah we’re just collecting our thoughts on how we should approach it.
You’ve collaborated with a lot of big names over the span of your career. How do you know when a vocalist is the right fit?
I feel like a lot of the time when we’re writing, we’ll not specifically make something for someone, but whilst you’re making a beat, you can kind of hear in your head someone that might work for. If it’s an artist that you’re really into, and you’ve been listening to their stuff, you’ll be like, “Woah, this could really suit [whoever].” I feel like just when we’re writing, it becomes apparent that you can imagine someone’s voice on it or whatever, so we just go from there.
Almost every track you’ve released has incorporated a collaborative member. Will we hear many lone Snakehips tracks or is this the direction you’re more likely to continue with?
I mean we’ve put out beats and stuff, just using samples and things. I think honestly from when we started making music, we always liked to write songs, even our early remixes that people starting listening to, we always use full vocal tracks. We’ve always been really interested in songs I think, so working with great singers and rappers is something that we really enjoy, and that we really like to be a part of.
With lyricism being projected by these collaborative artists, how does songwriting generally happen for a Snakehips track? Do you guys write the lyrics or only the production?
No, we like to be involved in everything as much as possible. I mean it’s obviously different every time depending on who you’re working with. Every track that we’ve put out, we’ve definitely been there throughout the whole process, and we like to get involved writing lyrics and the vibe, and the message of the tune. So yeah, we’re involved in every aspect.
Snakehips’ sound has become much more refined since the release of debut single ‘Days With You’. What do you think has influenced this change?
Yeah I dunno really, I always find it difficult to say what our sound is anyway, because everything is different. I feel like in the beginning I was just making old school hip hop beats, and then we did a couple of disco things, everything has just been different. I don’t think we really set out to do anything in particular, it just kind of happens. I guess it’s just a natural progression. I mean, some of the new stuff we make sounds like old stuff that we made, it’s just whatever we feel like doing at the time.
You’re in the midst of the Groovin’ The Moo festival circuit. How do Australian festivals differ, if at all, to the International stage?
To be honest, our shows in Australia are soo good – the crowds are amazing, people just really get into it. We’ve just done three shows that have been incredible, they’ve just been so sick. I feel like Australian people have a lot of energy, and they just enjoy themselves. It’s a lot of fun.
Have you ever hit a market that’s been difficult to break?
I dunno, I mean we only play a huge amount in Europe really. It’s cool, we’re really blessed that people like our music in like Australia, America and Asia. It’s just amazing to get to travel to all of these wicked places, it’s awesome.
You’ve sold out two Sydney shows for this tour. What can fans expect from your live headline shows?
It’s just going to be super good vibes, that’s what we try to do. We just want to have a party, and play as much cool music that we’d want to hear in a club or whatever and just have fun.
Visually how will it look? Will there be projections?
Yeah we’ve got some things going on… [Laughs] You’ll see!
What’s next for Snakehips? Are you just going to be focusing on these tracks you’re tackling at the moment?
Yeah we’re kind of just touring loads, we’ve got like a double A-side; putting out two new singles pretty soon, like in the next month or so. Just loads of more new music, we’ve got loads of stuff that we’ve been sitting on, so we’re just going to be throwing it out there.
Words by Hannah Galvin.