Ben Interviews One Of SMPM's Own
Sleeper Service are a group close to our heart. Despite standing in a crowded landscape of underground musicians, Oxfordshire duo Greg Munday and SMPM staff writer Tom Keogh are rapidly emerging as a group that should not be overlooked. Between delicately constructed songwriting and incredibly adept production, Sleeper Service are determined to make a name for themselves while becoming increasingly hard to ignore.
In the wilderness of this pandemic-stricken winter, our editor Ben Wheadon managed to track Sleeper Service down for an interview with this incredibly promising group:
It was incredible to watch Sleeper Service emerge from 2020 having been so productive through the pandemic. How did you approach last year? Did you see it as an opportunity to create, or did it materialise more spontaneously?
Hello the beautiful people that are Slow Motion Panic Masters! Always a pleasure to chat with you guys. We definitely went into last year with a plan – we’d decided to give Sleeper Service our full commitment after university and seeing as we couldn’t properly “launch” by playing gigs and whatnot, we definitely took the time to hone in our music and formulate a plan of attack of 2021 (we literally have a folder on our google drive called “The Battle Plan” lol).
And at the same time as enduring through the difficulties of 2020 and creating music, Tom, you’ve established your own recording studio in Oxfordshire? What led you to do that?
Yes I did! Sleepy Studios came from a longing to make an income within the music industry, particularly as I struggle with my “bill-paying” job in that it’s not something I want to do long term. I love audio engineering and producing, so it seemed like a no-brainer to try and get some extra work doing the thing I’m passionate about. The lockdown situation here in the UK was a great time for me to really learn about the fundamentals of what makes up a “studio” (really wish I’d studied physics!) and allowed me lots of time to hone my mixing/production knowledge. Also, considering my budget and stage of career, I felt there was a gap in the Oxfordshire music scene for a smaller, more intimate studio to be set up, rather than trying to compete with the more professional recording facilities around the area.
From making music yourself, to establishing a position as a producer, are there any big influences you’re looking up to as you develop Sleepy Studios?
A lot of my inspiration comes from seeing “successful” musicians build their own recording setups and it just looks so personal to them. Watching people like Mac Miller, Tyler Joseph or Charlie Puth in their home studios is fascinating to me because their setups are so specialised to their style of music, you can’t help but want to be there with them, in that moment, making music. Their studios almost become this extension of their personalities. In that way, I wanted to establish myself as much as a producer as I am an audio engineer with Sleepy Studios. The setup we’ve created and invested in is very much geared towards a certain sound – if you dig it, maybe we could make some cool sounds together.
Within those cool sounds, which of the tracks are you most proud of so far? Or is there better music to come on the horizon for Sleeper Service?
We of course think our new music is better than anything we’ve put out so far but of our current discography we’d have to say that “Evan” holds a particularly soft spot in both our hearts. It’s such a fun song to play live and go ham to, but the lyrics are fairly intimate for us and this genre. As we move forward it’s our aim to mesh meaningful, singer-songwriter-esque lyricism with more much developed production than before.
And you’ve got a new member! Would you tell us about them?
Yes, Alf! It’s still just us two making the music, but he’s joined the band to give life to the drums when we play live. He’s a bundle of energy and such a positive influence to have around as we’ve been rehearsing for our first shows (we will eventually) and immensely talented on the old drums. We’d readily admit that he’s by far the most talented member of the band and we’re not even mad about it. Unfortunately due to Covid restrictions we haven’t been able to meet up to rehearse recently, but expect to see a lot more of this man as we begin playing to a non-digital audience!
Alf is literally bouncing off the walls in rehearsals with ideas to throw into the show to make it more interesting and exciting, and we fucking love working with people who are clearly in love with what they do. He’s also been an inspiration for us both on ‘how to perform good’ with some of the stankiest stank faces you’ve ever feasted your eyes upon. So yeah, we’re stoked.
Where do you see Sleeper Service’s sound moving? Do you have any interest in pushing into new styles?
As hinted at before, we’re definitely aiming to carve a niche for ourselves by bringing big production to intimate lyrics, and it’s been really fun to work on so far! We’re now definitely breaching the alt-pop realm and moving away from the indie genre tag, which you’ll be able to hear over the next few releases, and it’s honestly opened up a lot of new possibilities for us, writing and production wise. We’ve found that there’s so much room to move about, with new-found freedoms in song structure and sound design - and we’re just getting started with it.
Finally, what more can we expect from Sleeper Service in 2021?
New songs, live shows, music videos, behind the scenes content, edgy band shots, OCD-formatted promotional strategies – you name it, we’re probably trying to have a crack at it! We want to break the scene so badly and we’re pouring all our energy into trying to make that happen. Tell your friends. Come to a show(s). Buy our merch (yet to be made). Who knows, maybe see you at Glasto 2022?
A big thanks to Tom and Greg for their time in answering our questions, and lifting the curtain on their process and what the future has in store for this incredibly promising duo. Find Sleeper Service on Instagram, Bandcamp, Spotify and at Glastonbury, sooner or later.
Thanks for reading! Slow Motion Panic Masters is a music, arts and culture blog created and edited by Ben Wheadon, a literature student and musician based at the University of Oxford. He is also a Fleet Foxes shill.
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