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PREP kick 2020 off w/ two new tracks: “Over” ft. Anna of the North & “Love Breaks Down”Read More
PREP Announce February 2020 Tour DatesRead More
In 2015 the four members of PREP came together with a clear purpose and a clean sound. The mission? To kick out the elegant jams, the kind of smooth classics to make you dance while simultaneously luxuriating in the memories of late nights past. Deep grooves that mine contemporary R&B and electronica while hearkening back to the soft, sheer sound of the late ’70s and early ‘80s—what some listeners have retroactively dubbed yacht rock. The love for that style united vocalist-lyricist Tom Havelock, keyboardist Llywelyn ap Myrddin, drummer Guillaume Jambel, and producer Dan Radclyffe. With Steely Dan and Bobby Caldwell as lodestars, PREP is pop music that feels tip-of-the-tongue familiar even though you’ve never heard it before. "The songwriting is classic, but the sound is modern,” as Dan puts it.
Take “Over,” one of the UK band’s latest songs, part of a batch of new material. The muted opening feels like a sample from the back of the record bin, before the track springs to life with crisp drums and keyboard stabs. “It hit me the hardest of any of the songs we’ve worked on,” Tom says. “It sounded like a dark tropical evening, the heat and humidity, with a seductive groove at the center of it.” His precise, reedy vocals tell the story of a relationship gone sour—even though the couple won’t admit it to themselves. This sort of nuanced, emotionally adult mood is quintessential PREP.
“Over” is a stand-out from PREP’s forthcoming album—the culmination of years of refinement, including three EPs of material: 2016’s Futures, and Cold Fire and Line by Line, both released in 2018.
In that period, PREP’s sense of sonic possibility expanded. "At one point we thought PREP would just be a studio project," Llywelyn says. “But we played gigs that went really well, and we spent some amazing time in Asia.”
That trip overseas introduced the group to city pop, a Japanese genre popular in the ‘80s that has admirers across Asia; a Japanese friend asked them why they were so influenced by the slick sound. “And we’d never even heard of city pop!” Llywelyn says. But they dug into work from genre luminaries like Tatsuro Yamashita and were surprised at what they learned. “What Tatsuro and those guys were doing, they were taking influence from a lot of the same stuff that we’ve been influenced by, and adding their own fresh take on production,” Guillaume says. "Which is what we’re doing.”
That freshness is a product of the four members’ distinct backgrounds. Llywelyn has a classical music education in composition and piano; Guillaume moonlights as a house producer and DJ; Dan produces hip-hop; and Tom works as a pen-for-hire songwriter in the pop music world.
With such a strong vision for the sound and aesthetic, PREP is as much a concept as a band, meaning collaboration is welcome. Sought-after talent like rising electro-pop star Anna of the North, South Korean R&B crooner DEAN, and Paul Jackson Jr, who played guitar on Michael Jackson’s “Beat It,” have all stepped into the world of PREP like they were trying on a pair of dancing shoes. The band’s method invites it. As Llywelyn explains, a PREP song begins as an instrumental demo that’s eventually sent to Tom, who pours himself a drink and lets the tune wash over him before writing the vocals.
The thematic character Tom often seeks out when writing for PREP shines brilliantly on “Love Breaks Down,” a jaunty new track that recalls early Prince or the chill modern funk of Unknown Mortal Orchestra. “The groove is energetic, but there’s a desperate quality in the vocal," Tom says. “Someone who is pretty near the end of their tether.” The unique pleasure of a brief wallow in melancholy, tears on the dance floor mixing with cool sweat—that’s PREP.
PREP's fully furnished space wouldn’t be complete without a live show that embodies the sophisticated spirit of the act. “I had a period where I wasn’t doing any of my own music—it was all in studios for other people,” Tom says. “And there’s a real excitement in hearing a song that you’ve written on the radio. But to get out in a room with a load of people and see their reaction—there’s nothing like that.” Beginning in February, the group will unveil its latest material for live audiences across America. The full-length debut will follow in late 2020.
In 2015 the four members of PREP came together to cut deep grooves that mine contemporary R&B and electronica while hearkening back to the soft, sheer sound of the late ’70s and early ‘80s—what some listeners have retroactively dubbed yacht rock. The love for that style united vocalist-lyricist Tom Havelock, keyboardist Llywelyn Ap Myrddin, drummer Guillaume Jambel, and producer Dan Radclyffe. PREP is pop music that feels tip-of-the-tongue familiar even though you’ve never heard it before.
The freshness of fusing well-worn genre tunes with modern sounds is a product of the distinct backgrounds that make up the group. Llywelyn has a classical music education in composition and piano; Guillaume moonlights as a house producer and DJ; Dan produces hip-hop; and Tom works as a pen-for-hire songwriter in the pop music world.
The unique pleasure of a brief wallow in melancholy—what you hear on new stand-out tracks like “Over” and “Love Breaks Down”—that’s PREP. Beginning in February, the group will unveil its latest material for live audiences across America. The full-length debut album will follow in late 2020.
- American Songwriter
- Bands In Town
- Consequence of Sound
- Cool Hunting
- Cool Hunting (round-up)
- Daily Californian
- Do The Bay
- Indie Shuffle
- Music Connection
- Northern Transmissions
- Popdust Podcast
- Uproxx (Over)
- Uproxx (Pictures Of You)
- Run That Again Music
- Sound Vapors
- The Noise Gate
- Variance Magazine
- Indie Shuffle
- Northern Transmissions
- Paper Mag
- Rolling Stone