Spiritual Milk

Spiritual Milk

CamelPhat was determined not to rest on their laurels when it came to making their second record. The success of tracks such as “Cola,” the Grammy-nominated 2017 megahit collaboration with Elderbrook, established Liverpool duo Dave Whelan and Mike Di Scala as one of the biggest dance acts to emerge from the UK during the late 2010s, but on Spiritual Milk, the follow-up to 2020’s Dark Matter, they set out to expand their sonic world. “It feels different,” Whelan tells Apple Music. “It doesn’t feel like it’s come straight out of clubland.” “We’d had loads of big records and we wanted to change the sound up so it didn’t sound too similar,” adds Di Scala. “It was experimenting and seeing what we could get away with.” Rather than seek to replicate the banger-after-banger euphoria of their live sets, the pair’s approach here is more nuanced, balancing Balearic, melodic house anthems with moments of minimalist electronic pop, indie dance, and emotive techno. The result is a record that takes the listener on a journey. “We want to look back in 20 years and have something there,” states Whelan. “Dance music now is so throwaway. Your track can last two weeks and you move onto the next one, whereas with this, it’s a body of work, it’s going to last forever, so we want to take it somewhere else than just stereotypical dance music.” Spiritual Milk is the sound of CamelPhat rewriting their legacy. Here, Whelan and Di Scala talk us through it, track by track. “Hope (Spiritual Milk Edit)” (with Max Milner) Mike Di Scala: “This is epic and [UK singer-songwriter] Max Milner’s voice is absolutely incredible. It’s just the perfect track to start the album because there’s a lot of emotion in it.” Dave Whelan: “It feels very cinematic, and it’s a grand opening to tell a story. The track could have been called ‘Spiritual Milk’ if it wasn’t going to be called ‘Hope.’ It does feel very spiritual. I’ve got no idea where the name Spiritual Milk comes from. It was just there one day, and I wrote it down on my phone.” MDS: “When he first said it to me, I was like, ‘Oh, I don’t know.’ But then when you live with it, it’s like, ‘Yeah, it’s right.’ When you listen to the album, it fits well.” “Rennen” (with SOHN) MDS: “[London songwriter/producer] SOHN is so talented. It just oozes out of him, absolutely unbelievable in the studio.” DW: “‘Rennen’ is something that he’s already released and I loved it. I’d always thought it needed some kind of dance mix so, when we eventually got SOHN to the studio to do the other track, that’s when we asked for the stems to ‘Rennen.’ It was this particular track that grew legs. I think it’s one of our secret weapons on this album, this new edit. We absolutely love his vocal.” “Home” (with RHODES) DW: “This is probably one of the oldest records that we’ve done for this album. It sat there for a while. [London-based singer-songwriter] RHODES is a super-talented musician. He can adapt his vocal to whatever he wants it to be and he’s very into working with other artists or other writers. He’s not scared to push it out there to see where it goes.” “The Sign (Spiritual Milk Edit)” (with Anyma) MDS: “This was a collaboration with Anyma [the solo project of Matteo Milleri from Italian tech-house duo Tale Of Us] and Delta Maid, a talented writer from Liverpool. We were flinging the stems back and forward with Matteo and this came about.” DW: “The thing about the vocalist, Delta Maid, is that I came across her on Radio Merseyside when they were doing a spotlight on talented people in the area. I investigated a bit more and was like, ‘Wow, this girl’s unbelievable.’ She’s like a folk singer. I got in touch with her and sent her a few backing tracks. She came back with this. I was like, ‘What the hell? This is unbelievable.’ She’s definitely one for the future.” “Compute” (with Ali Love) MDS: “Most of the work was done from January to now [late summer 2023] but that was a lockdown tune. We sampled 20 seconds of a Kraftwerk tune, ‘It’s More Fun to Compute,’ and then turned it into a dance-floor slammer. Ali Love is on the vocal.” DW: “He just brought it up to date. It suits Ali. It suits his personality because he’s quite quirky. He’s very much out there. And when you hear the beat and the rhythm, he’s exactly the kind of person you can imagine dancing to it, so to have him doing a vocal on it is like the icing on the cake.” “Many Times” (with Mathame and Frynn) DW: “This is another track with a vocalist that I managed to discover over the internet, Frynn. It was actually a fan who recommended her, they sent me a link to her Instagram. We got the vocal over and sent it to [Italian techno duo] Mathame and they came back with this thunderous, pumping 130-odd BPM track, just full of energy. It was something we’d never think of doing. Actually, it was the total opposite of what we had in mind.” MDS: “They came up with the riff. It’s quite like Robert Miles’ ‘Children,’ like Eurodance style, but it just works when we play it. Bags of energy.” “In Your Eyes” MDS: “This came together really quickly. The vocal is quite commercial but the sound of the record when it kicks in is like what’s going on now with melodic techno, so it was like a fusion of the two worlds—the commercial and the underground.” DW: “The original writer who wrote with us on it is a girl called Dylan. She’s got her own thing going on so she couldn’t feature on the track, unfortunately, but her writing is immaculate. It brought a bit more of an indie sound to it.” “Turning Stones” (with SOHN) DW: “This was the original track we did with SOHN. We had a load of tracks with basic guitar backing tracks and he just nailed the vocal. Sometimes, writers can go too much and you don’t know when to stop with ideas, but he’s very easy to deal with. It came together in a writing week we did in London at the end of January, one of those tracks that we just knew straightaway, ‘This is potential album stuff.’” MDS: “We do like to work quickly. It feels better, it feels more natural when something’s a lot quicker. If something takes too long and it’s a bit of a labor, it falls by the wayside. It’s better to get them done quick.” DW: “In our history, our bigger records, the most successful ones, are the ones that have come together overnight, basically. ‘Cola’ took a morning.” “Primavera (Re-Edit)” (with PPJ) DW: “This was a track that I came across on Bandcamp. It was by [French electro-poppers] PPJ and I reached out to them and asked for the stems and said, ‘This track’s gone completely unnoticed, I’d love to do a CamelPhat remix and put some spotlight on it.’ We did an edit and then it just sat there. It was almost like the period of time, which is probably two years ago, wasn’t where it needed to be for us to play it out. Whereas now, that sound—Afro rhythm and quite melancholy, slowed-down house—is huge and the timing’s perfect.” MDS: “The good thing about Dave is he always seems to know what’s coming next.” DW: “Yeah, I fluke it! I don’t look at the tea leaves at the bottom of my cup but it’s just a feeling.” “Bloom” MDS: “We wanted to do something a little bit more cinematic, a bit dramatic. There are some orchestral strings in there, just to have a bit of a cinematic moment in the middle of the track to reset the listening experience and then you go again.” DW: “It’s like a break in the album, like, ‘OK, you’ve just had that, now it’s time for this.’ I learned from Dark Matter what worked and what didn’t work as a listening experience. It’s difficult in the world of TikTok to ask the listeners to be patient, but you need to be patient with this record because it’s not going to make sense unless you’re listening to it from the start to the end.” “Colossus” (with Kölsch) MDS: “This is a collaboration with [Danish producer/DJ] Kölsch. It does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s a massive sound, a big festival record. It’s a bit of a banger. You’ve had your little pause moment and then you get straight back at it and just smash it right back in there. Let’s go. When you’re listening to things, you’ve got to have different textures because if everything’s the same for 90 minutes, it just becomes white noise to the ear. You’ve got to have different things going on just to keep the ear interested.” “Embers” (with Shimza and Julia Church) DW: “This is a tune we did with [South African DJ] Shimza and [South African singer-songwriter] Julia Church. Shimza originally sent over an idea, it was very basic but I loved it straightaway. We got the stems and brought it to life, made it as big as possible. It’s one of them tunes that the scene now has caught up with it, it was a tune that’s been sat there for quite a while.” MDS: “We’ve been playing it in Pacha and it works.” “Rain” (with Desire) DW: “I thought [Desire vocalist Megan Louise]’s voice was quite pop for us but I liked it, she’s quite quirky. I thought, ‘You’re probably not right for a club track but on an album, it makes sense.’ There’s something weird and quirky about this song and her voice suits it. It’s like an art pop record.” “What a Day” (with Eynka and Delilah Montagu) MDS: “We’d heard Delilah Montagu on a record with Black Coffee [Black Coffee & David Guetta’s ‘Drive’], and her voice is really lovely—sweet voice, amazing writer. I got on the piano and was banging some chords out and she got a little vibe and she wrote over that. It was a really quick process.” DW: “With this record, we’ve got in mind that it could come to life on the dance floor, but it’ll require a remix. I think a lot of the tracks on the album are going to need big DJs to do some kind of remix and this is one of them. There will probably be another album of remixes.” “Higher” (with London Grammar) MDS: “Hannah [Reid] from London Grammar came into the studio with a dog and just thrashed it out. This was pretty quick as well. She’s so talented, anything that she sings sounds like a hit record to me. Really amazing. It was a pleasure working with her.” DW: “She can sit there and listen to it once or twice, and then she’ll literally have two verses done, and you’re like, ‘How have you just done that?’ She’s also a super-nice person. I think she’s had some slight issues with other artists within our world previously. We had to break the walls down and she really appreciated the humanity of being in a studio with us rather than a business side. It made everything a lot easier.” “Love Is Something” (with Jake Bugg) DW: “We wrote this in LA a couple of years ago with Jake Bugg during Coachella. This is one of those records I can just sit and play on the beach, listening to it on my headphones constantly. I imagine people with their lighters out at a concert and Jake on stage performing this record. I’d love to see that one day.” MDS: “And again, obviously, it’s not dance music. It’s a band record, so a few of the fans will be a bit like, ‘Oh, what’s this?!’ But we’re just trying to show what we’re about. We’re eclectic. We can do a bit of everything. There’ll still always be dance music for the dance fans. We’re just experimenting.”

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