Interview: Certain

Certain are a unique group of collaborators, releasing music as a project every so often. I recently had the opportunity to hear one of their songs, It’s Alright, and I really enjoyed it! If you want to find out more, then read on below!

By Jane Howkins

Certain are quite a unique group, being a collaborative group consisting of creators, artists and musicians. How does it work? What is the writing and recording process like?

Good question! It’s been different every time so far. It all begins with a song, a very dodgy demo and then the strange alchemy that comes with finding exactly the right singer from the collective to give it their own unique interpretation. Then it’s the right musicians calling by at the right time to resident genius Gavin Monaghan’s Magic Garden Studio, where he and Liam Radford create the overall sound. We’ve worked by Zoom, behind Perspex, in pubs and in person. We’ve sang ideas down the phone and recorded some phenomenal musicians who happened to be calling by… we tend to just follow the flow each time.

How did the collaboration first get started?

Nick (Nicholas) and I have been recording with Gavin (Monaghan) for years, after we were signed to the same publisher many moons ago and became good friends. During the early days of the pandemic when we were in and out of lockdown, Nick and I found ourselves listening to lots of big songs from the 60’s and 70’s Motown, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Carpenters – songs with huge uplifting choruses that could take you somewhere else in just 3 minutes. They’re are songs that we all carry with us and don’t even realise we know off by heart, it’s like they’re part of your DNA. We decided we wanted to have a go at writing songs like that, to lift our own spirits and those of anyone who might listen. Working with Gavin over the years meant we kept meeting and working with some incredible artists and musicians from the area. We decided to keep everything very local and shine the spotlight on some of the stunning rising talent coming out of Wolverhampton. We love the idea that they can dip in and out of the collective as they pursue their own unique musical journeys. The people we have met and worked with inspired the Certain story, a drama which will be released on podcast later this year. And the final part of the jigsaw came when we met the awesome animator Dan Crew, who creates the animated videos and visual ID for the collective, bringing it all together.

You recently released a track titled It’s Alright, which we reviewed. What can you tell us about the song?

It’s Alright is a song for anyone who has ever felt like an outsider, or as if they don’t fit in. It’s a song that tells you, don’t worry, you’re not the only one – I feel like that too and it’s turned out alright! A lot of people have told us that they got a lot of comfort from the refrain at the end ‘If there’s someone for me, there will be someone for you, if I can find the one you’re gonna find them too…’ Basically don’t give up, you WILL find love!

The track features Amara Latchford. How did Amara get involved?

Gavin Monaghan had been working with Amara on her project Point A and thought she might be the perfect singer for It’s Alright. When we heard her voice we were very excited, and so happy that she wanted to be part of the collective. She has this really tender quality to her voice and gave It’s Alright an emotional depth. An incredible singer and a lovely person.

Do you plan to release any more singles in the near future?

Yes! Another Certain release will come out later in the year to coincide with the release of the Certain story podcast. Look out for more from our second featured artist Ange Lloyd too.

Have you started writing for an EP or an album?

We’re always writing! As the project evolves there will definitely be a collection along the way.

Has the pandemic hindered your work much?

Funnily enough, the pandemic sort of inspired the whole project. We felt this real need to create something hopeful that made people feel good. It has been tricky sometimes getting around isolation periods & restrictions, and lots of us getting sick at different points. But for us, something beautiful has come out of a horrible situation.

It’s Alright is an indie pop song. What/who influences you most as artists? What have you been listening to recently?

Certain celebrates the eternal power of music to lift the spirit and that’s our central aim. We want to make music that people want to sing along to, music that makes you feel good. We never set out to make one particular kind of sound, it’s a melting pot of all the passions of the creators involved in each track, but the overriding influence is the big songs of the 60’s and 70’s, from Bacharach and David to the Stones.

Do you have any tour dates lined up?

It’s been a big logistical challenge to get a tour going, firstly because of the pandemic and secondly because it’s very hard to get so many talented people in one place at a time – someone will be off on a dance tour, or performing in a production in a different country… However, we do have some gig dates coming up, more news on that soon.

Any last words for the fans?

If there’s someone for me, there will be someone for you – it’s alright!