Passport To Stockholm hinges on a friendship: songwriters Chris “Barney” Barnard and Tom Piggott have been making music together since they were teenagers, developing an intimate awareness of each other’s songwriting in the process.
This intimacy filters into the music itself. Finely wrought indie-folk with flamboyant flourishes, it’s a sound imbued with a nascent energy which fuses such different backgrounds, such distinct disciplines, into one inspiring whole.
The project is bolstered by percussionist/breakbeat specialist Henri Grimes and classically-trained cello player Mariona De Lamo. “It’s an evolution, really,” Barney explains. “I’d say it was rooted acoustically but there’s a lot of electronic influences as well.”
The band’s classical heritage is evident in the lush, ambitious, often pastoral songwriting, but it’s also there in the manner in which they approach music. “It’s a discipline, really,” he says. “I’ve always been a bit of a perfectionist. It gives you discipline, having that classical background.”
At heart, though, Passport To Stockholm make pop songs. Drawing on a wide palette, the band’s music has the Autumnal glow of Fleet Foxes, say, or the contagious energy of The Lumineers. “I’ve always been a fan of pop,” insists the singer. “The first artist I remember listening to was Michael Jackson. I’ve got an older brother and he had a ghetto blaster – I remember just breaking into his room and pressing play on it and he had the ‘BAD’ album. I remember just listening to that over and over again.”
Michael Jackson, pop nous and wide-ranging acoustic instrumentation – Passport To Stockholm is a heady brew, but also one that is extremely difficult to pin down. “It’s so difficult to come up with something new but I think we’ve got a little bit of a niche going on,” Barney explains. “There’s a creative momentum there. It’s broadened what we think we’re capable of, I suppose, from a songwriting point of view.”
Live, the band are able to truly cut loose; a blizzard of different styles and influences, it’s an overwhelming mesh of sound which seems to really connect with audiences. “We stand in a line, all together – like a line of attack. It’s engaging to watch. You can’t beat the feeling of playing to a busy room of people who have paid to come and see you – it’s music bringing everyone together.”
Word is already out on Passport To Stockholm. Following coverage on BBC Introducing, 6Music, Amazing Radio and more, the band’s dedicated fan-base rushed to support debut EP ‘Chemistry’, breaking their PledgeMusic target in little more than 48 hours. There’s clearly a close-knit relationship between the group and their fans, as Barney admits. “They were essential in helping us put the music out. Without them we wouldn’t be able to produce the record. It’s definitely brought everyone together.”
Chosen to be the face of HTC 1 alongside none other than Robert Downey Jr. the band also took part in a BENQ print campaign and became the only band to play Jamie Oliver’s food revolution day. Diversity is, as ever, the spice of life. “There’s endless possibilities when you’re writing music,” he continues. “You can go down any number of ways – the best thing about writing music is that you can do what you want.”
Continually working on fresh ideas, continually moving forward, Passport To Stockholm are committed to their music, dedicated to their craft. “A song never comes out just on its own,” the singer insists. “We take a lot of time over our songwriting, and take a lot of time to hone it; it’s a craft, it takes a lot of time for us because we want it to be right.”
Building on the momentum from the “All at Once” EP, Passport to Stockholm return with a new set of 4, revealing a wider sonic palette and growing confidence. The band were forced into an extended break, allowing Mariona to recover from a long stint in hospital; the songs very much reflect a band energised by being reunited, making music that’s true to them. The stripped back nature of “Better Days” gives way to heavy synth injections elsewhere in the E.P. ; evidence of the influence legendary DJ Mauro Picotto had on sounds, after a soon to be released collaboration on tracks with the band.
The EP has been produced and mixed by long term collaborator Gordon Mills jr (Ed Sheeran, Lucy Spraggan, Mark Morriss, 1D), with contributions from Athlete’s Carey Willets
Passport To Stockholm have had great support from BBC Introducing, 6Music, Amazing Radio and more. The band’s dedicated fan-base rushed to support debut EP ‘Chemistry’, breaking their PledgeMusic target in little more than 48 hours, their first full release with ingrooves, “All at Once” Entered the U.S. top 30 Spotify viral chart, UK top 10 Spotify viral chart along with just breaking the top 100 in the CMJ chart. The band hope to build on the groundswell with a tour in April and a string of festival dates this summer.