Sunscreem: The Positive Road Ahead
Updated: Feb 5, 2020
Essex-based Sunscreem who - alongside The Prodigy and The Shamen - pioneered commercial electronic music in the 1990s, achieving four UK #1 singles along the way, announced the release of their 'lost' album, Out Of The Woods. Although released on 30th November 2018, originally it was scheduled for release 21 years ago, however a catalogue of misfortune prevented its release until now.
Out of The Woods is much more than any album. It's a fascinating and redemptive story of vocalist Lucia Holm and keyboard player Paul Carnell. Furthermore the album sounds as fresh as if it was made yesterday, befitting of a band who are still packing out venues throughout the UK and USA.
As this album marks a brand new and fresh chapter for Sunscreem, we caught up with Lucia and Paul to find about more about the new record, and the pair’s plans for moving forward.
It must be a very exciting time for you, with the release of your new album Out of The Woods. Does it feel good to finally get it out there?
[Lucia] Yes, it’s very satisfying. Like everything creative, once it’s out there you’ve let it go. It’s been born and now, with a little bit of love and understanding, it has its own life.
Was there a different vibe in the air when it came to working on getting this record out, compared with when it was originally recorded?
[Lucia] Certainly, a 21-years-and-2-children later vibe! So much has changed for us since we recorded the original tapes, now there’s no pressure from a record company and we make music when we feel like it.
[Paul] We had a difficult time back then during the recording of ‘Out of The Woods’, however when we went back to it we realised how fresh it sounded and the vibe’s been very exciting.
Take us through what it was like to work in the studio on finally releasing Out of The Woods? Were there any moments where you really had to push yourself?
[Lucia] Paul went through all the original mix tapes because he wasn’t convinced we’d pushed the boundaries of what could be used.
[Paul] The original demo of the album was rather conservative despite the unusual way we’d mixed the songs. The mixes were done manually without computers, and every morning we’d reset all the faders on the desk and start over – effectively throwing yesterday’s work away and starting again. This produced some quite unconventional and exciting versions, and with hindsight we pushed ourselves to find all the best moments on the original tapes and use them on the final release.
What was it like standing alongside the Prodigy and the Shamen in the US dance charts in the 90s?
[Lucia] We were all from the same club in Essex and so it felt pretty weird, almost like it was destined. They went on to big commercial success, or perhaps we stayed more underground. Haha …
What was it that initially influenced and inspired you to become Sunscreem?
[Lucia] We were part of an electronic pop band in the late 1980s and then went to our first illegal raves. It was like we’d finally come home! Some of the live PA acts at these early events inspired us to get up and do it with live drums and guitars, something no-one else was doing then.
[Paul] I think our biggest inspiration was going out and dancing, there was a euphoric atmosphere at that time and we set out to capture that in songs like ‘Love U More’ and ‘Perfect Motion’.
How would you describe your evolution and growth over the years?
[Lucia] We’ve definitely found our sound: a mixture of acoustic and electronic, pop and alternative dance. And each of us developed our niche within that Sunscreem arrangement.
[Paul] We’ve grown beyond the club influences of the first album ‘O3’ and now use different rhythms and tempos. I play more acoustic piano on the recordings and we’ve written slower songs that wouldn’t have fitted in our earlier live sets.
What do you feel you took away from the experience of touring America with the likes of New Order?
[Lucia] The biggest take-away was that we found we could all step up to the mark and deliver on a big stage. We’d always done very energetic performances in clubs but really didn’t know whether it would work in stadiums. Fortunately, it was even better, which gave us enormous confidence.
What was your reaction when you knocked Whitney Houston off number one on the Billboard dance chart?
[Paul] We probably had another party on the tour bus, I can’t remember!
As difficult as the court cases must have been, how easy was it to not allow experiences such as that to take away the spirit of Sunscreem?
[Lucia] We put it all behind us and focused on our children and chilling out at home. We live in quite a remote part of Essex, so being close to nature and having each other has helped.
[Paul] It did affect us, but in a positive way over time. We’re very different people now.
What plans do you have for the next stage of the Sunscreem journey?
[Lucia] We’re looking forward to playing more live gigs next year and we have a few new album plans …
[Paul] There’s a vinyl release of our favourite covers in the spring and we’re recording a new album, probably for release in 2020. We’re using more analogue synthesizers again and a simpler production than our recent work.
Finally, as you look back, what is your proudest moment of being part of Sunscreem?
[Lucia] Our first appearance on Top of The Pops!
[Paul] When we’re told that our music has changed people’s lives or helped them through a bad time, those have been the proudest moments but also the most humbling.
Wishing Lucia & Paul all the best. Out of The Woods is available to check out now, so be sure to give it a listen and be part of this fresh and exciting chapter of Sunscreem.
Article By H.T