The 1975 reflect on the dissolution of genre and the evolution of music culture

The 1975 reflect on the dissolution of genre and the evolution of music culture

Words by Sosefina Fuamoli

The 1975 aren’t in the business of making records to be digested and thrown away with ease.

Come April 2020, their new album, Notes on a Conditional Form, will be released. An album that has already spawned four distinctive tracks (‘People’, ‘Frail State of Mind’, ‘Me and You Together Song’ and the Greta Thunberg-featuring ‘The 1975’), Notes is not simply album number four for the British group. It’s a sign of the band’s continued drive to complete a chapter of their career that is more flourished and intriguing than what came before.

“It’s not an environmental record,” Matty Healy is quick to assert of The 1975’s next venture.

“I’ve led with the Greta song into ‘People’, so now a lot of people are like, ‘Oh, it’s the environmental record’, but it’s not. A Brief Enquiry… had the title of Into Online Relationships [and] that set the tone. It’s a record about being a person: fear, love, the human experience. There’s a cloak of that idea and this [album] has the same thing. The main thing I’m scared of on this record is bigger environmental concerns, but it’s not an environmental record.”

When it comes to The 1975’s presence in a music culture far different from the one they entered in 2002, Healy is open about how they’ve weathered a cultural storm of streaming and chart-data led success.

“The artists whose single streams are in the billions, people don’t buy their albums, necessarily.” he says. Using pop music as an example, Healy describes his perception of the singles vs. albums debate.

“Ellie Goulding [for example],” he says. “People will listen to her music at the gym and they will listen to it on playlists. They’ll put the Pop playlist on and it will get out there. When it comes to her putting out a record, which is someone saying, ‘Will you invest in my lifestyle?’ or, ‘Do you want to invest in me, as an idea?’… I have a lot of ‘Yes, I want to invest in you as an idea’, and less, ‘I’ll pop this on when I’m doing whatever’.

“I’ve said this before, but the Drakes of the world, they’re professionals at keeping people’s attention for three minutes,” Healy adds.

“They can do that again and again. I’m not that good at that. A single will happen accidentally throughout the myriad of writing songs. The way that we express ourselves is like longform. I can do it and I do it occasionally, I’d love it if we can make it work where I get a big idea down in three minutes. We’ve always been an albums band.”

Reflecting on almost two decades of making music with The 1975, Healy is frank about how he has matured as a musician and what looking down the barrel of a new decade is like for him. In short: it’s exciting.

“When I was a teenager, culture and everything said, ‘To be an alternative artist, you get a deal with a small indie and that’s how you do it’,” he explains.

“By the time I’d put out my first record, I was already … I didn’t have people from record labels [calling], I didn’t have any of that, there was already a freedom to it. I suppose I am in a privileged position, but the most privileged thing is that I created that privileged position. I can kind of be proud of it.

“We’ve proven that, with luck and with the zeitgeist, and with it being the right time, you can do what you want. The coolest thing about The 1975 is that this past ten years has seen the dissolution of genre, especially with us. I see artists like Billie Eilish, these artists who are fearless now. I love that. We’ve definitely been part of that new sense of freedom with young kids.”

The 1975’s new album Notes on a Conditional Form is out Friday April 24 through Sony Music Australia. They’ll play St Jerome’s Laneway Festival on Saturday February 8. Grab your tickets via the festival website.