The Underground Youth has just released his 10th album this week, The Falling, on the Fuzz Club Label. Let’s take this opportunity to come back on the group’s birth, initiated by his frontman Craig Dyer and Olya Dyer. This birth is intimately related to the musical love story with Casper Dee, the founder of the Fuzz Club label. Today, Craig and Olya Dyer play with Leo Kaage (drums, synths..) and Max James (bass).
The Underground Youth: a musical love story with Fuzz Club
Fuzz Club’s birth is almost inseparable from The Underground Youth band. To set the scene: imagine a snowy and dark week during the winter 2010, close to Norway’s Artic Circle. Three things happened within a week for Casper Dee. First, he hast just discovered The Underground Youth band. Second, he broke his leg. Third, a gallery made an offer on a Bansky artwork he had! Casper Dee accepts the offer and launches his label with this extra cash: « I called Craig-from TUY-and I haven’t looked back » he said in 2013. « Break a leg » has never had a best meaning !
This is how the TUY released their fifth’s album, Delirium, during the summer 2011 on the brand new Fuzz Club label. The label became quickly international with new bands such as Dead Skeletons and Singapore Sling from Iceland. In 2012, my favourite Italian band, Sonic Jesus, joins Fuzz Club. Like Sean Bouchard and his remarkable label Talitres in France, Casper Dee has a similar approach and ethics to his work. This makes such a difference in this industry to be noticeable. Casper Dee only signs artists he loves, betting on human relations over business. « If your intention is purely to make money, then you knocked on the wrong door I’m afraid » said Casper Dee and so could have said Sean Bouchard!
Having been an art collector for a long time, Casper Bee feels naturally drawn to a more arty approach to album releases. You can see it in his collaborations with musicians, many of them are also visual artists, I am thinking of Nonni Dead from Dead Skeletons, Olya Dyer from TUY or many others. Craig and Olya Dyer made the refined album design, for The Falling (as they have been doing for a long time).
The Underground Youth, from Manchester to Berlin
The Underground Youth was originally Craig Dyer’s solo project. He started to work on the band in 2008 while in Manchester. This name is a tribute to one of his first-ever poems, called… « Underground Youth« . Even they came from Manchester, TUY differs from the local music scene. When he was a teenager, Craig Dyer admired writers and poets such as Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Patti Smith and the Beat Generation. We can really feel theses influences, on the last album, The Falling.
In 2009, TUY released their two debut albums, Morally Barren and Voltage. Followed by Mademoiselle and Sadovaya in 2010. Mademoiselle is a must-listen. The cover reminds me of the French singer Barbara. I have discovered this album and TUY in 2016 when Fuzz reissued it. With more psych rock influence, you can find a lot of musical pearls like Hope and Pray or Mademoiselle. The band played those songs in Nantes (scène Michelet) in 2019. An amazing moment for me!
Today, Craig and Olya Dyer live in Berlin. The city is known for its famous techno scene, but not only! In an interview for a Banja Luka’s website, Treci Sviget, 2 years ago, Craig Dyer talked about Berlin. « As a city, Berlin has been greatly influential on me… the history in everything is palpable and that inspires in a strong way. It’s an an exciting city. There is an exciting alternative and Punk scene and a seemingly unlimited list of bands like ours who moved here from somewhere else« .
The Falling, a melancholic dark album mixing the styles
The opening title track, The Falling, has immediatly seduced me. It takes us on a musical and cinematographic journey. The addiction will last throughout the 8 songs! In this first song, we think about Nick Cave and Warren Ellis. String arrangements bring a melancholic dimension. The second song has a German title Vergis Mich nicht, it means Don’t forget me. The harmonica reminds us of Dylan and Craig Dyer’s voice is an echo to Leonard Cohen. I love it.
The atmosphere is sad-ish, as Craig Dyer explains « (the idea was) to strip back the sound of the band to allow the lyrical breathing space« . Then he adds: « I think there is always a fear as an artist that the work you produce will go unappreciated and forgotten, just as you long to be remembered by lovers and acquaintances. it’s a feeling, bordering on narcissism that I wanted to write about. It comes up as a topic through the album« . The result is absolutely stunning.
In Egyptian Queen, the organ, guitar and violin sublimate Craig and Olya’s voices. We can find, again, a Cohen’s perfume in And I…with aerial choirs and melancholic guitar for an amazing track! In Sorrowfull Race, I definitely love the guitar riff. Craig Dyer sings: »Why he’s achieved so much more than I, in such a short amount of time, well I’ll never understand why, I’ll just keep writing line after line after line after line‘. Then, he explains: « This track is something of personal attack on myself, and the narcissistic frustration at those whose success has overshadowed my own« .
For you are the one is resolutely original, between folk rock and post punk. A mix between Nick Cave and Dropkick Murphys! It is one of my favourite. Craig Dyer confesses: « I wanted this bouncing, drunken, upbeat track for the record, something unlike anything I’d written before. The addition of the violin to the album really enhanced each and every track… For me this one stands out as the song most affected by this change in sound. » Cabinet of Curiosities is not a Jacco Gardner’s track here. The guitar sounds 60’s and reflects a past nostalgia. Letter From Young Lover closes the album in a beautiful way. We want to come back to the first track!
Tunng has invented folktronica, propkick murphys celtic munk…..and The Underground Youth Dark invented dark folk post punk!?
The Falling, an intimate album and a « love letter to the past«
The Falling depicts a big honesty and privacy in Craig Dyer’s writing. « Lyrically this album finds me at my most honest and autobiographical. I still shroud the reality of what I have written within something of a fictional setting, but the honesty and the romance that shines throughout the record is more sincere than it has been in my previous work » says Craig Dyer.
The album is the result of the pandemic since it was recorded between Craig Dyer and Leo Kaage’s apartments, turned as home studios for the occasion. « The album sees me going back to my writing approach from our earliest records, writing the demos as stripped back acoustic tracks at home. What started out as a set of romantic and deeply personal songs also took on the surrounding frustrations and feelings towards the situation we found ourselves in. Born from the heartbreak of how the worldwide pandemic has changed the industry we were thriving within, this album also functions as a love letter to the past.«
Epilogue: TUY and The Falling…an obvious choice to add to your discography!
If some people did not know or forgot about The Underground Youth, you should definitely do something about it and listen to this 10th album, The Falling! TUY may remain « Underground » but you still have to add it to your musical library.