Music interview: Ceiling Demons are set to '˜unmask' on new album

Ceiling DemonsCeiling Demons
Ceiling Demons
North Yorkshire hip-hop trio Ceiling Demons follow the recent release of their single March Forward with a show at the 360 Club in Leeds.

“March Forward is the first track off a new LP that we’ve been crafting for a good while,” says Dan Demon. “It’s been a few years in the works. The body of work and the album that it’s coming out on later in the year will be the follow-up to our self-released debut album Dual Sides.

“We have dabbled in various singles and EPs since then but this feels like the true follow-up to that album.

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“March Forward we meant to put out in spring. It’s meant to embody the transition between the winter and the rebirth of life in spring.”

BBC Radio 6’s Tom Robinson, a long-time champion of the band, has described the song as “like a colliery brass elegy”. “That was a description which very much resonated with us,” says Dan. “It’s got that traditional Yorkshire brass sound that drives it. It’s perhaps more spoken word than some of our other releases but I feel it’s inspired by life and death and hope is always a constant theme which looms around there as well.”

Musically Dan feels the band, who are based in Richmond, have taken a step forward with the new album. “Just with the lyrical themes and the delivery perhaps,” he explains. “For my point of view it’s a progression from the rapping that was apparent in Dual Sides to a bit more just feeling. There’s a bit more singer-songwriter stuff coming out. I think it’s just crafting your own lyricism and your own style.

“We’re not just trying to stay specifically to hip-hop. We want to try to be as universal as possible but also stay true to what we are doing in terms of our art. We want to feel happy with our art but we also want it to be accessible to fans of whatever genre – fans of hip-hop, fans of indie rock, fans of spoken word poetry, whatever floats your boat.”

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This time the band are working with Durham-based DIY label Win Big Records, a “sister label” to Frux Tapes, with whom Ceiling Demons put out a mixtape last year. “One of the creators of Frux Tapes has split off to do a niche thing,” says Dan. “It really resonated with us when we had a talk with him, he was really passionate about the record when we showed it him. We’re looking at doing a run of limited CDs and possibly limited cassettes.”

The striking masks with which Dan, his twin brother Psy and producer Beat Demon first made their mark remain “a big part of the whole Ceiling Demons project”. However, says Dan: “A thing for this album is we’re going to work on shedding this mask imagery and unveiling ourselves for our press shots. The masks are still present in the live shows but if you come and see us live you’ll see it’s an unmasking and cathartic experience for us. We start with the masks on but then we unveil and spill out our souls.

“The imagery is still there for the new single but as we get closer to the new album we will be unveiling more.”

Dan is quick to pay tribute to 360 Club founder Richard Watson, who is staging their gig at The Library in Leeds. “He really has been a big supporter for us since day one. Before we even started the Ceiling Demons project we had a project called Traits and we were living in Leeds and we put out just put something on the internet and this promoter reached out to us, and it was Richard. He saying, ‘I’d love to get you to do something live’. That never materialised but when we started doing the Ceiling Demons he was really feeling it and he’s put us on several times. We’re blessed to have him on our side and flying the flag for us.

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“He does weekly shows at the 360 Club at The Library and he channels a lot of good music so to be considered by him to be involved in this night is always a big blessing. We are very grateful for his support.”

After the 360 Club show on June 16 the band will be playing at NARC Fest at The Tanners Arms, Newcastle-upon-Tyne on July 1 and DINA in Sheffield on July 7. A longer UK tour is being planned to coincide with the album’s release in the autumn.

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