Machine-precise drumming, frenetic beats, and inimitable stage presence are only some of the factors that make Comfort one of the most exciting prospects in Scottish music. Consisting of brother-sister duo Sean and Natalie McGhee, Comfort excite listeners with each new project, producing poetic, energetic music. And genre? They deal only in ‘bangers’.
What’s Bad Enough?, Comfort’s new album, feels like the preparation of a time capsule; sonically chronicling current events, from trans rights and moral panics to class divide. It’s a boots-on-the-ground account. We caught up with Comfort ahead of the release of their new LP to chat about songwriting, capturing a moment, and charting your own path.
Your last album, Not Passing, was released in 2019. What’s happened since then to gestate What’s Bad Enough?
Natalie: We wrote another album that we just didn’t end up releasing – things didn’t work out. There’s two tunes on [What’s Bad Enough?]. But we haven’t used most of them; not because they’re bad, we like them still. It’s just how we like to do it. We like to focus on constantly writing and trying to make new stuff. To touch on the sound, how did it come about?
What Inspires you?
Natalie: It came from pop music and hip-hop mostly. My experience working with other people doing music is that you would form a band and be like ‘We’re going to be an indie-rock band and it’s going to sound like this mixed with this’.
The most inspiring thing for Comfort was that we wanted to do something we knew only we could do. And that was the whole interest: let’s not worry about sounding like anything, let’s not worry if it’s objectively good or bad or whatever. Let’s just try and express a feeling. And I think that’s the main influence, really. Just leaning into yourself and forgetting about anything else. So with defying genre in mind, how would you, in an elevator pitch, describe Comfort?
Natalie: I always just say it’s bangers. Bangergenre. Bangers. No – I would say it’s vulnerable, honest electronic music with live drums. And it’s lyrical. Just passionate.
Sean: It does suit punk in terms of attitude. We’re not like a punk band, so that can be confusing because people want guitars and stuff when they hear that. But we honestly think it’s pop, what we do, and people often laugh at that, but that’s what we think when we approach it.
How honest you’re being throughout the album, in the political as well as the personal, marries together really well. Was this a conscious decision, to frame active political moments with your own view? Is it a drive behind your music?
Natalie: Definitely. We’re trying to make something real. I feel like a lot of stuff, especially when it comes to political stuff, has been a bit of a movement to sell more records for a lot of the industry, and I find that a bit rank. It just constantly flip-flops between ‘Oh, nobody’s saying political stuff’ even though, obviously, artists of colour constantly made political music. They mean white indie bands aren’t doing it.
We’re in this moment right now where it’s like ‘Let’s not be serious guys, let’s just have a bit of a laugh’. I just want to reflect my life, I want to reflect the time I’m living in.
That’s what art does. I don’t give a fuck about timeless quality or making a statement that will outlive me. Because who cares? I just want to express what I’m expressing.
Sean: That’s always been a big thing, honesty, hasn’t it? People have asked us if we’d timed this to come out now, especially with our last single. And all the controversy with the English government blocking the GRA [Gender Recognition Act], people are like, did you time this!? And it’s Natalie just talking about her life, that’s basically the secret. So, you do a fair amount of gigging, tour regularly, and have a pretty steady output of work. Does this kind of pace come naturally?
Sean: Yeah, it does. We’ve just always been like that, from the start. We just build up the habit and it’s just the way it works. It’s definitely very beneficial. Just to keep moving, you’re always coming up with new things. Even if you don’t play a lot of them. It makes it feel fresh and keeps that excitement. You need something to work toward. Everyone needs that, regardless of what you do.
Natalie: I feel lucky that we’ve got so much more to come. I’ve never had a point with this band, where I’m like fuck, what are we going to do next? Full of ideas. It’s like I’ve not even scratched the surface of what I want to do with the band, and neither has Sean. It’s just exciting. It’s great. Playing tunes, making tunes. It’s fun! It’s a laugh. I just love it. I love music and getting to make it is so amazing. I can’t wait to do it tomorrow! [laughs].
What’s Bad Enough? is out 5th May on FatCat Records. The What’s Bad Enough? album launch took place at Glasgow’s The Old Hairdressers on 13th of May 2023
All photo credits: Sean McGhee