It’s been just over a year since 23-year-old James Bennett composed his first song as Mozart Parties. From the isolation of the village Kirkby Lonsdale, located in England’s verdant, mountainous Lake District, Bennett found himself spurred on by a love for Animal Collective and Deerhunter, and with the help of his new sampler he wrote “Black Cloud.” With its winding bass line, shivering chords and softly sighed, overlapping harmonies, the song is a simultaneously tender and oddly triumphant exploration of mental unraveling. Above, check out the world premiere of his debut, Rob Heppell directed video for “Black Cloud” which sees James trekking through the wilds of the Lake District amidst a swirl of colored-smoke that’s seemingly oozing from nature’s core. His second track, “Wish My Thoughts Away”—which slipped online just a month ago—continues to prove there is a no finer sonic state than happy-sad.
You perform as a quintet [which includes his older sister and her boyfriend] but write and record by yourself. Is this because you couldn’t find anyone else who shared your vision? To a certain extent it was circumstantial. I was on my own up in the Lake District and I just started writing. But I remember reading an interview with James Murphy and he said he’s just a control freak in the way he writes and that’s the way I am. I don’t like having to compromise: I like doing exactly what I want to do when it comes to the songwriting process.
You’re originally from Berkhamsted just outside London, why did you end up moving to the Lake District? My parents retired and moved up there so I tagged along. They basically ruined my life! I always tell them that! When they first moved I was still studying music at university in Leeds so I didn’t spend a huge amount of time there. But it’s really, really quiet, plus it’s quite hard to get out there and make new friends. It’s essentially a stop-gap because as soon as I can afford to I’m going to come back down to London again. I’m making it sound bad, but it is a nice place.
It seems like the isolation may have filtered into your music. Yeah it’s probably true but I think it’s subconscious. It’s not like I sat at the window and looked at the peaceful surroundings and thought, Ah this is inspiring me! It’s more that the isolation affected me without me realizing it.
A lot of the lyrics seem to be about escaping yourself. A lot of it is about assessing yourself and letting it out lyrically. It’s all very personal. It’s difficult to describe really.
Are you good at anything besides music? Music is the only thing I ever been remotely good at! I wish I could say I was good at quantum physics but I’m not. I’m not going lie either, music at university was not that hard.
So you’re a big Manchester United fan? Yeah. I think I can justify being a Man United fan now that I’m living up north. You normally get ripped for it if you live down south.
What kind of party would Mozart have thrown? I imagine an extremely civilized one. I got the name from a kids history book called Horrible Histories. For some reason I happened to be reading it and there was this little thing about some aristocratic people in the 1920s who used to have these parties and dance to Mozart. It was the Eureka! moment for me.
So the plan is to move to London?
Absolutely. That’s where it’s at. When I was away I realized the quiet life just wasn’t for me. As a 23-year-old graduate when all your friends are living in London it’s mildly soul destroying sitting on your own for a very long time.
What’s your favorite thing to do in London? Besides seeing the people I love, it sounds really cheesy but living where I am in the extreme quietness, when I’m in London I like just walking down the street and taking it all in. It enriches you.
Mozart Parties’ Black Cloud is out now on Merok Records