W.H. Lung are a Manchester-based band who have just released their follow-up album, Vanities, a much-anticipated sophomore LP following their first, Incidental Music, which finished first in the 2019 end-of-year charts at their hometown musical store, Piccadilly Records. A far-from-difficult second abum, Vanities furthers the incessant grooves and avant-pop songwriting of their debut into “a bold electronic leap forward into the dance music they love.”
As such, we’re delighted to welcome the band’s own Tom Sharkett to the latest edition of #PHANTASYMIX, contributing some of the music that continues to inspire the band, firm favourites on the tour van stereo following their recent UK tour. Selections include Siouxsie & The Banshees, Richard H. Kirk, Fantastic Twins and Telex. This is an outsider dance mix full of warmth and rich in knowledge.
John Loveless spoke to Tom Sharkett about the mix.
Tell us about the mix? What can we find in it, what inspired it?
As the ‘DJ’ among WH Lung, do you tend to guide the band’s more dance-oriented discoveries? What were you listening to during production on ‘Vanities’?
As of late that’s probably the case as I’m the one daft enough to spend all of my wages on going out all the time and spending the rest on records – but Joe will often send me stuff across too that I’ve never heard before. For the production of Vanities we spent a lot of nights out together where we’d come home dead excited by what we’d heard. Standout influences were DJ’s like Avalon Emerson, Helena Hauff, Haai, Andrew Weatherall, but also nights like Wet Play and Red Laser here in Manchester.
Outside of the club, it was artists like Mount Kimbie, Kelly Lee Owens and Tirzah to name a few. We wanted stuff to be more dance-oriented but also have that grainy, and wonky production I mentioned early. That’s always the best stuff for me. Matt who produced the record has a great collection of older synths and tape echos and is a big fan of a lot of 80s stuff that I also loved as a teenager and still do. Hearing Avalon Emerson play ‘The Walk’ by the Cure was a proper full circle moment for me as it tied all the influences together. That’s why I wanted to include the Siouxsie & The Banshees tune in the mix!
Manchester is a city with a rich heritage in electronic music. It also seems to have had a genuine generational shift in the past few years, even when clubbing spaces seem increasingly threatened by gentrification. Where have you enjoyed good nights out recently?
I think the best thing about Manchester now and historically is the constant wanting for a good underground scene – whatever the style might be. The best club for me hands down is the White Hotel which is the absolute case in point for that. You can watch amazing local DJs like Annabel Fraser, Tom Boogizm, or the Red Laser and Wet Play crew, and then other amazing DJs from outside of Manchester too. Erol’s all night long set at the White Hotel this August was a recent highlight, as was Tom Boogizm’s 10hr set at the $hotta Rave, which was the first night back after the pandemic. Partisan is another great space/organisation Manchester is lucky to have and I’ve had some top nights at their old space.Sofie K for NYE in 2019 was a particular favourite.
Do you have solo electronic music endeavours away from the band? Did you begin as a band member and progress to electronic music (the typical shift, it seems), or something different/in parallel?
I’ve been writing some stuff under my own name over the past 18 months that I’m finishing up now and hoping to release early next year. I did my first live set at the White Hotel last month and playing down in London in January so that should be good fun. I’ve been going for a dark italo/cosmicy sort of vibe (or I hope so anyway!) It was definitely after being in the band first yeah, and I think working with our producer, Matt, and getting really into synths and drum machines changed what I was listening to and what music I wanted to try and make. That and becoming obsessed with being in the club over the past few years too!
Finally, what’s the record heard since you recorded this that made you think, “Damn, should have put that in?”
Optimo played the Rex the Dog remix of ‘Triangle Walks’ when we went to see them in Glasgow. What a banger. I’ve been loving System Olympia’s last record, ‘Delta of Venus’ since recording the mix too so perhaps a track of that. ‘Look With Your Eyes’ is one of my favourites.
John Loveless, November 2021.