East London-based post-punk outfit Folly Group are dedicated to pushing limits. In challenging the traditional post-punk sound — weaving in trip-hop, dub, dance, and Afro-Cuban rhythms — they’ve also set themselves apart from the genre’s DIY scene emerging around them in the U.K. In concert, they continue to defy expectations — lead vocalist Sean Harper sings brashly from the drum kit while bassist Tom Dorehty and guitarist Louis Milburn head the front of stage, each delivering punchy parts alongside dynamic percussionist Kai Akinde-Hummel. It’s a beautifully chaotic balance, with powerful symbiosis in each member’s output, one that creates a heavy, intoxicating rhythm section from all angles. Today, the four-piece release their debut LP, Down There!, tapping into a new level of honest lyricism, taking on topics of alienation in Britain to the beat of an increasingly inventive sound.
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In celebration of the new LP, Folly Group’s Sean Harper sat down with AP to detail songs that inspired its creation — or as he calls them, “red flagcore.”
Iceage – “Simony”
Plowing Into the Field of Love was a huge record for teenage me. “I’ll Do What I Can,” the second single from our album, Down There!, left its fingerprints all over “Simony.” I am forever catching myself singing along to the “a million regrets” hook in the chorus, much to the amusement of my classmates at clown school.
Martha Skye Murphy – “Stuck”
Martha’s fantastic. I’m so excited for a full-length project. This song balances the beautiful and the uneasy so effortlessly. I could probably learn a lot from this song about how not to clutter an arrangement, to be honest.
Stina Nordenstam – “Under Your Command”
I love this song. It doesn’t walk a line between settling and comforting, so much as be both in equal measure at once. It’s a great example of how an additional post-production process devoted to manipulating and screwing up traditional band instrumentation can really disembody the instruments and make them sound alien in a way that can’t be achieved with software alone. We started having fun with that idea on Down There!, and I hope we lean into it further in the future.
Cooly G – “Love Dub”
Evidently, this has nothing in common, sonically speaking, with what we try to do. I really wanted to include it because it’s so synonymous with London for me. It’s 2010, I’m 12, I’ve walked to WHSmith in my small town and bought my first issue of DJ Magazine. This is included on the CD compilation stuck to the cover. It came to represent this imaginary version of London I daydreamed about and looked forward to getting stuck into one day when I was old enough to move. Our album’s bound by this imaginary underground London, and I hope it feels as synonymous with the capital to me in 10 years as this track still does. Masterpiece.
Big Ups – “Goes Black”
When I was 16, I started falling out of love with dance music temporarily because this project I had was getting all serious and industry-y, which was spoiling the fun. In a really reactionary way, I went deep on the grunge and punk I’d always also loved, but more passively. I went on a discovery spree, and this is one of the songs that helped me realize performing heavy music must be really fun. Sure enough, it is.
Vessel – “Red Sex”
An amazing exercise in mood by repetition. Sebastian Gainsborough is one of the U.K.’s most underrated electronic musicians. Then again, he did co-compose the soundtrack to The Northman, which hopefully means he’ll grace a bunch more films in the future. I’m really grateful to Lou, Tom, and Kai for humoring my love for this sort of thing in the van.
Massive Attack – “Dissolved Girl”
This is my favorite song of theirs. The way it bleeds through Neo’s headphones as he naps on his desk in the opening minutes of The Matrix was somehow the vibiest thing I’d ever seen when I first watched it. Been chasing that mood ever since. The bassline does all the heavy lifting on this tune, and I lifted heavily from it, vibes-wise, at least, for a track on the album called “Nest.”
Daughn Gibson – “All Hell”
We do quite a lot of sampling in Folly Group. This track is a masterclass in building a pop song. structurally speaking, out of samples and doubles as the most overtly sinister pop song I can think to name right now. Murder music.
Ioanna Gika – “Roseate”
We’ve spoken before about the influence various strains of electronic music have on our stuff. This song’s a brilliant example of channeling that inspiration in service of something else. At first, it’s like baroque pop replete with harps and lyrical allusions to falling statues. There’s a tension that pushes and pulls, but the momentum never stops building, and it all culminates in an angelic, apocalyptic gabber climax that against all odds doesn’t sound remotely forced.
Exploded View – “Disco Glove”
An utterly unforgiving groove beneath an air-raid siren guitar (maybe?) part by an Anika-fronted band signed to one of the greatest labels to ever do it. This song was engineered in a lab to appeal to me. I’ve loved it for years.