Monday, August 7, 2017

A quick tête-à-tête with TENDER

Photo: Tom Oldham

James Cullen and Dan Cobb, London duo better known as TENDER, are on such a high right now, you're bound to have heard one of their dark yet infectiously danceable tracks. I've written about these two before, as has the entire blogosphere, with their successful string of EPs and single after single. 

Being able to relate to their fanbase on an emotional level and deliver such exhilarating lyrics coupled with catchy synth hooks and reverberating bass lines, TENDER have their equation down pat. Recently releasing the first single off their upcoming album, Modern Addiction, and prepping for a UK, EU and North American tour, the duo somehow found the time to have a quick chat, and let me get to know them better. 


What would you say your music is best suited for. People that listen to TENDER, what are they doing? 

Firstly, we’re looking to try and build connections between people when they hear the music. It’s music for dim-lighting and eyes meeting across a room, whether it be a party, a club, a bar or just two lovers at home with a drink in their hand and the time to enjoy each other.

How was touring with Cigarettes after Sex? Although your music is different, it gives off very similar sort of bedroom vibes.

It was great. Our first tour, which allowed us to really get familiar with how we want to portray our music in a live setting. We agree that the moods the two bands evoke are pretty similar even if they’re using a slightly different palette of sounds and that’s what really made us want to hit the road with them. They’re a really great band and we got on well. We struggled to keep up with them at the bar, but we gave it our best shot (no pun intended).

Speaking of bedroom vibes, what were your go-to songs to woo the ladies?

We’re both big fans of Bon Iver, as are most, so a lot of his songs worked a treat. I’d say also the album ‘Brothers’ by Black Keys, particularly the 2nd half of it and for a more upbeat, recent one, I’d say ‘Chateau Lobby #4’ by Father John Misty is perfect. 

Photo: Jack Margerison

Erode. I want to talk about that for a moment. I loved that release and the supporting video is absolutely phenomenal. It oozes such sensuality and emotion and is simply powerful. Any sort of specific inspiration for that song?

Thanks a lot! To be honest there weren’t direct comparisons in terms of influences for the style because of the way it’s shot using infra-red which allows all of the natural blemishes and freckles etc in the skin to be seen more in depth than you would see with the human eye. The basic premise was just trying to explore what we thought the song stood for and that was as direct as we’ve ever been with one before…. Sex. We wanted to convey the sense of delirium and ecstasy that you sometimes see in films where it cuts to a sex sequence or a trip on drugs where you see inside their minds, but we wanted it to be less surreal throughout, until the very end.

And the video? Jack A. Bowden created something beautiful. Is that what you originally envisioned before you even spoke to him about it?

The end product is actually pretty close to what we all had in our heads. The list of ingredients is short for this video, so we all had a good idea of how it would look apart from who the two actors would be. We looked at the options and wanted a very natural looking couple, which by the definition of the word could mean plenty of different types of actors, but they fitted perfectly for us. 

Your cover of Drake's Hotline Bling is unreal. Still so catchy but with your trademark sound. Are you big Drake fans? 

I’d be lying if I said we were ‘big’ Drake fans, but we definitely chuck him on the stereo from time to time. I think he’s definitely got some standout tracks and obviously ‘Hotline Bling’ is one of them. We wanted to explore using our sound for a slightly different style of song to see how it would translate, much like BADBADNOTGOOD do on their cover of Future Islands’ ‘Seasons’

Other R&B artists you're loving currently?

I think, not consciously, but we tend to listen to more band-orientated R&B/Soul stuff, so at the moment we’re spinning Leisure, Her, Xylo, Parcels.

Can we expect another cover sometime soon? Is there anything that's tempting you at all?

We’ve played around with a few ideas recently actually. We’ve recorded one of an artist I’ve already mentioned and there’s an unfinished one we have of a really classic R&B tune from 2004… I don’t want to say too much right now in case we create other ones and put them out instead though, but that’s where we’re at with any covers! 

This blog is equally about film as it is about music. If you were to mute a film and have your music playing in the background, kind of as sensory experience, what film would be playing.

‘Nightcrawler’ with Jake Gyllenhaal and Riz Ahmed could work well for some of our darker stuff. 

There are a lot of bands out there with a similar sound, and yet yours seems to pull you in the most. You have a something insanely unique about you. What would you say differentiates you from other, similar sounding acts?

I think, having come from a guitar-band background rather than starting as producers, we still try and incorporate classic chorus structures (instead of the #2017-esque drops) and develop those sometimes with just a skeleton of a track. Then we flesh it out with the production techniques which we’re picking up as we go really, having only started making electronic music about 18 months ago. 

With over 5 million streams on Spotify, reaching #1 on Hype Machine, and playing sold out shows, you've accomplished so much in what, a bit over a year? How does all that feel?

It feels great! We’re really pleased with how interest in the music is really growing steadily in a way that we think we’ll have fans you can still listen to us and come to shows a few years down the line. We wanted to grow at a sustainable pace where people feel like they have discovered this band rather than have our music shoved in their face. Too often you see those acts come down just as quick as they went up. The band The National is a great template for how you can spend years steadily growing, while winning over fans for life.

What are your plans for rest of the summer and 2017? When can we expect your LP?

We're looking at doing a run of headline shows in support of the album across the EU, UK & US/CAN. We’re going to be trying to play far and wide beyond the summer, so basically we want to tick off a few continents and play for as many people as we can. The album will be out shortly after the summer, September 1st. 


TENDER tour dates: 

Aug 29 – Manchester, UK – Deaf Institute
Aug 30 – Glasgow, UK – King Tut’s
Sep 1 – Bristol, UK – Louisiana
Sep 2 – Nottingham, UK – Bodega
Sep 4 – Birmingham, UK – Sunflower Lounge
Sep 5 – London, UK – Village Underground
Sep 10 – Los Angeles, CA – The Echo
Sep 11 – Santa Ana, CA – Constellation Room
Sep 13 – San Francisco, CA – Rickshaw
Sep 15 – Seattle, WA – Vera
Sep 17 – Vancouver, BC – Cobalt
Sep 19 – Denver, CO – Lost Lake
Sep 21 – Chicago, IL – Beat Kitchen
Sep 22 – Toronto, ON – Adelaide Hall
Sep 24 – Washington, DC – Songbyrd
Sep 25 – Philadelphia, PA – World Cafe
Sep 27 – Brooklyn, NY – Baby’s All Right
Sep 28 – Boston, MA – Great Scott




  1. Oh dang, I love their Drake cover! I love it when people take rap and put their own spin on it. They have such a unique sounds that I'm really loving! Thanks for sharing this. :)


  2. Love how velvety their sound is. I feel like I've heard that first song "Machine" somewhere before...



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