INTERVIEW: Meet Born Stranger

Born Stranger is an electronic-pop duo that craft motivating synth-pop inspired by millennial titans Coldplay and The Weeknd. David Maddox-Jones and Raife Hacking rapidly claimed radio support from the likes of Radio X and BBC Introducing with their debut single “Fire & The Flame”, while the release of the second single “Be Someone” aw the support from a bunch of hype machine blogs and securely placed them in over five “Ones To Watch 2017” features.

Their newest single “Cheating Love”, co-produced by Yoad Nevo (Sia, Pet Shop Boys, Goldfrapp), was already being championed by BBC Introducing before its release. It then took a placement on Deezer’s Brand New UK playlist that counts to nearly 6 million followers. The single is a collaboration with the alt-pop emergent Caitlyn Scarlett. Her releases have been recognised with more than 4 million streams on Spotify alone.

Both Born Stranger’s Maddox-Jones and Caitlyn Scarlett’s vocals contrast in “Cheating Love” together to create an infectious duet, where the two act in a relationship and pick their brains on their commitment to each other.

Get to know Born Stranger with our interview, in which David talks about their music, collaborating and much more!

First off, please, tell us how you guys come up with this name!

Well, I liked the word stranger for a long time, you can perceive a stranger as someone that’s a bit mysterious, someone you want to get to know more of or maybe someone who intrigues you. There’s something thrilling about not knowing anything about someone and it’s also exciting to imagine what they might be like. On another level, being strange is to be left of centre; the opposite of average. We called ourselves born stranger because we have always been a bit like that. We don’t make average music and we always try and make intrigue and mystery into our music. Born Stranger suits us I think; we don’t want to give everything away… we like to hold something back.

How did you form your duo?

Well actually I met Raife in a drum shop after a friend of mine recommended him as a drummer. He tried out for a band I was in. He got the job and over time when that band disbanded he became more interested in producing than playing drums. It’s great having a drummer as a producer as the beats are always interesting and bang on the money.

You both had something to do with music as children, so we would like to know if there was anything else in your plans.

I used to want to be a journalist when I was growing up, I always loved English at school. Raife actually works on a farm that grows bean sprouts, his girlfriend’s parents started the business. These bean sprouts are amazing and incredibly healthy. I think it’s good to have something else to take your mind off music. It adds to the creativity and saves you from going crazy because the music business can take a while to crack!

How would you describe your sound?

Future pop – bass heavy, lyrically driven with big hooks.

Why is the pop music so inspiring for you?

Because Pop music is both influenced and shaped by each generation, it’s a snapshot of what’s going on in each year / decade culturally. I love how you can look back on the noughties or 90s and it’s the music that defines that era and fashion. Pop music is everything!!

How do you think you’ve improved the most since you started working professionally?

We just generally sound way better and the more we have worked on our craft, the better we have become. We used to not really know how to write songs, now we have a clear understanding of where we want to go and what we want to create.

Tell us about your songwriting process!

It starts with me and my lyric writing partner Roby Kenna in a room with a piano fleshing out ideas, concepts and melodies. We write the chords, lyrics and melodies and then take it to Raife to give it that born stranger sound and then it ends up with Yoad Nevo who adds his magic touch – it’s like a hit making conveyor belt.

The reaction for your latest single was amazing, wasn’t it?

Yeah! Really happy with how it’s gone. We got added to a bunch of Spotify playlists and got some great blog reviews and mentions!  Now we are looking forward to the next single – which is going to be a track called GENERATION I think. We’ve had amazing support and really appreciate it. We work hard for this!

What was the inspiration behind “Cheating Love”?

The phrase ‘cheating love’ can be perceived as infidelity, but the undertone we wanted to convey was that of cheating love the same way someone might cheat death, a close shave but ultimately avoided. I came up with the phrase cheating love and thought it was a cool play on words and Caitlyn wrote the ogre lyrics around that. Not sure where the inspiration came from – maybe it’s a subconscious personality flaw? Ha

So what was it like working with Caitlyn?

It was great, she’s got a real talent for lyrics and an ear for an interesting hooky melodies. I’m looking forward to hearing what she does next.

Would you tell us any exciting stories that happened to you?

Mmmm Chloe Moretz tweeted the link to our song last week, which was mad. 500 days of summer is an amazing film and she’s such a cool actress. On a different tip; Raife spent 5 days on a mountain in Mexico last year with no food or water meditating…. he’s the zen one in the band for sure. I’m manic, he’s chilled; it’s that dynamic that makes us born stranger.

It’s so exciting to collaborate with so many different people, isn’t it?

Yes. It’s great and it’s what music is all about – learning new things from each other and getting different voices, melodies and ideas on tracks. Doing the same thing over and over again would just be boring.

What do you like the most about collaborating?

Not having to write the whole song – that’s great haha. No, seriously – just getting something written that’s greater than the sum of its parts – I love vibing off other people’s creative energy.

Is there anyone who you would love to work with?

Rihanna? Sia? The Weeknd – if y’all are reading this get at me ;)

What would you like to achieve in the next few years?

To build our profile steadily, write loads of amazing songs and be able to make Born Stranger our full time mission! It already is but also need to survive by other means at the moment!

Thank you so much for the interview! Do you have a message to our readers at CelebMix?

Hey guys – keep searching for and listening to new music and following your favourite pop stars – we love you for it! Also you’ve got impeccable taste, what a cool site!

Did you like this interview? Make sure to tweet us at @CelebMix and tell us what you think about Born Stranger’s music!

Written by Alexandra Nagy

I'm Alexandra from Hungary, now living in the UK, and writing is not just my hobby - it's my passion. I'm a writer/journalist addicted to music, travelling, football, movies & books, proudly supporting Derby County Football Club.
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