Based in London, Enderby's Room is the musical alter ego of Dan Mayfield, and an outfit who take delight in creating wonderfully enticing soundscapes under the bracket of "folk music" (see below). Their self-titled debut album is out now on Fika Records, and in order to help spread the word, we've decided to pick Mr Mayfield's brain. Be warned in advance that some of these questions are sensible, and some are not, but hopefully they'll give you a comprehensive view of the band regardless. So, without further delay, Enderby's Room...
1. Hello there, let's start with a very broad question, how's 2017 going for you so far?
Well so far it feels like 2017 has only just started, but as I look at the date we are almost half way through! It’s been a really good year so far. I managed to release my first single and album at the grand old age of 36; this was both a great relief and joy. In a world of turmoil, it has provided droplets of happiness to be able to share the record with others.
2. The name Enderby's Room comes from the Anthony Burgess character, but what percentage of your musical composition do you do in the toilet (and what are the percentages for everywhere else)?
Whilst the name is partly taken form the Anthony Burgess character, it is also from a number of hamlets in Lincolnshire that I remember from my childhood. Bag Enderby, Wood Enderby and the wonderfully named Mavis Enderby, which I remember passing on our way to the seaside at Skegness. Did I avoid the bit about writing music on the john?
3. The soundscapes on the record are quite lush and sophisticated, is this an intention or by-product of the writing process, and how does this process generally unfold?
I really enjoy harmonies of voices, both from instruments and people. In the songs, I aim to write simple lines and then adorn them with a few other simple lines. Nothing too complicated, most of it in the same key, but hopefully sounding interesting, and providing a few new things to hear on each listen.
4. For the album overall, are there any overarching themes which you applied, either consciously or subconsciously, and what are the reasons for these?
Life, love and loss would be the succinct and probably clichéd way of describing it, with smattered themes of nature and listening. I find lyrics to be the hardest part of song writing. A melody can simply be a nice combination of notes, nothing more, nothing less. However words carry such a baggage of meaning, and when they are put together they can make total sense or be utter gibberish. The songs I write are my escapism from work and life. I don’t really feel like writing about the challenges in social care or the political state of the world. The songs on the album (except 'Mannequins', which is about the biased rags given away each day in London) are a place I can go to away from all the shit and struggles, for about 3 minutes at a time.
5. There's been something of a rise of folk music in the mainstream over the past decade, but how would you define "folk music" and judge what falls under this definition or not?
That is a difficult question. Folk music can be lots of things. The obvious answer might be songs about historical or political events, unaccompanied or accompanied by acoustic instruments. But I just admitted the Enderby’s Room songs aren’t about politics or history, does that mean we aren’t folk? Just using acoustic instruments doesn’t make music folk either. When Alice in Chains played MTV Unplugged did that make their music folk? Possibly not. As with many forms of art, I think it is up to the person making it as to what they want to call it. Genres are subjective, so if you want to call it folk music, then it is folk music. I think Enderby’s Room play folk music.
6. Harking back to your musical beginnings, what inspired you to begin writing, and what influences keep you composing to this day?
I started writing instrumental music in my teens using loop pedals. I enjoyed exploring and experimenting with repetitive melody lines. In fact the song 'Tiptoe' on the album was one of the first pieces of music I wrote and with the exception of its middle 8, has the same chords all the way through. Looping music was fun but it had its limitations. Playing in a band with friends is far more enjoyable.
7. The line-up of Enderby's Room appears to be pretty fluid, is there a selection and interview process that goes on behind the scenes, or is very much that, fluid?
Everyone who has played with Enderby’s Room ticks three boxes. In order of importance they are: not a dick, reliable, and can play an instrument. Nobody has ever auditioned in be in, and nobody has ever been asked to leave the band.
8. Having relocated to London, how do you feel this has impacted on the formation and reception of your music, both positively and negatively?
Well Enderby’s Room started in London so it’s really a product of my time here. When I first moved down I was fortunate to quickly meet a number of amazing musicians in the band Ellis Island Sound. From there, a number of other projects developed, and I met and continue to meet a lot of fascinating and creative people here. These were really fun times and it opened doors on what London and its music scene has to offer. I find playing music with people such an enjoyable experience, and London continues to provide plenty of them.
9. As someone who plays various instruments, and on a record which features various instruments, which is your favourite and why?
I really love the pedal harmonium that we have in the band. It’s very old, fragile, tuned slightly sharp, not entirely in tune with itself, all of which makes it a wonderfully characterful piece of wood and metal. It was designed to travel around with and it would feel like a disservice just to keep it at home or have it trapped behind glass in a museum. We’ve taken it on tour abroad and all over the UK and it has still survived, and there’s no reason it can’t keep on going. It will probably outlive me. I hope it does.
10. As an exciting closing question, if you had to order a final three course meal, what would pick?
Blimey, if this was to happen would I really have an appetite? Can I opt for a liquid lunch? Okay well I won’t dwell on why this fateful occasion might be occurring. For starters I’d plump for nostalgic cocktail sausages, pineapple chunks and pickled onions on a stick. Main is easy, that’s the pie of the day. And pudding would be hot jam roly poly and custard.
Now that you know more about Dan Mayfield than his closest friends, it's probably about time to sample some music, right? Below you can find a Soundcloud sampler of that record, and if that tickles your fancy you can purchase it on iTunes now (or whichever place you like to spend your music cash). Regardless, I hope we've turned you onto something you find exciting and that makes you smile in the sun.