London Grammar’s Dot Major on launching his “liberating” solo career

London Grammar‘s Dot Major has spoken to NME about launching his solo career, as well as teaming up with Alex Metric for their new collaboration ‘See This Through’.

The musician and electronic producer first announced his new solo venture back in January before launching with the “twisted” debut solo single ‘Bear‘ and penning the massive song ‘Hideaway’ for NME’s recent C23 mixtape.

Having always “done things on the side” as a member of the Nottingham-formed trio – completed by singer Hannah Reid and guitarist Dan Rothman – Major told NME that the music he was making on his own “felt quite aimless for a little while”.

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Although he released a few remixes around the time of the trio’s debut album ‘If You Wait’, Dot revealed that “it got a little bit lost during the second record” ‘Truth Is A Beautiful Thing‘.

“I was always doing stuff – like with radio mixes, I would do them as full club mixes – so I always had my foot in the door,” he continued.

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However, it was performing at London’s Printworks in 2021 supporting friend SG Lewis (who he had collaborated with in 2018 on the song ‘Release’) that helped Dot to realise what he wanted to achieve with his solo music.

“It was a watershed moment for me,” said Dot, who added that the idea first came about when the pair were at Dot’s house party. “We were wasted really late at night and I was playing him a beat that I had made on a Swedish drum machine.

“He was like, ‘Dude, you’ve got to do this at 1am at Printworks before 2manydjs’. I was like ‘Sure, mate’. The next morning, my manager called saying, ‘Why is Sam booking you to play Printworks at 1am? You haven’t even DJ’d’. I replied: ‘I don’t know, but I’ll definitely do it’.”

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Realising that would be playing after Gerry Read and before 2manydjs, Dot said he “knew I would never be able to DJ at their level, so I decided I needed to find something else”. Having landed on a hybrid set that incorporated decks, a synth and drum machine, when Dot played that gig, he realised “whatever else I do, this has to be a part of my immediate future, because I loved doing it so much”.

Dot Major (L), Hannah Reid and Dan Rothman (R) of London Grammar attend The BRIT Awards 2022 at The O2 Arena on February 08, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Jim Dyson/Redferns)
Dot Major (L), Hannah Reid and Dan Rothman (R) of London Grammar attend The BRIT Awards 2022 at The O2 Arena on February 08, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Jim Dyson/Redferns)

It wasn’t until Dot started sharing his tracks with others that progress on his own solo project gathered momentum. “I asked myself ‘Why do I spend hours and hours making so much music that never sees the light of day?’” he said. After sending music to London Grammar’s management team, they returned with notes on his tracks with this support helping him to “decide that it was the right time – I needed someone to really go for it”.

It was only recently, when Dot felt he had enough music, that he felt “ready” to properly launch his solo project with ‘Bear’.

Major soon found himself working with more established artists – like Alex Metric, who won a Grammy for producing the Silk City and Dua Lipa song ‘Electricity’ – admitting that “although I had an idea of what I wanted to achieve, I definitely needed some help”.

Having only just started to “do the electronic music thing”, Dot “garnered a lot of confidence from working with Alex”. Yet collaborating was a long time in the making: “Alex’s name kept coming up for years, from several people, but I’d never met him.”

When they did first hit the studio together, Dot said the pair “really hit it off and I could see us working together for a long time”.

Alex felt the same way, telling NME: “It was super easy and we didn’t really think about it. We just made something.”

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After only two hours, they had created the first version of their new single ‘See This Through’.  “To have made a tune that we both thought was great, so quickly, is quite unusual,” said Major.

Alex said he worked on it almost instantly because: “I hate labouring over tracks for too long. The longer you live with a record you’re working on, the less perspective you have on it with each day that passes.”

He continued: “When you’re excited by an idea, you should ride that and see it through to the conclusion as quickly as possible – before you start to ruin what was pure about it. Often, you spend months working on a record and changing it a thousand times, but then go back to the original demo anyway.

“Making that first record then becomes the ice-breaker of getting to know each other. Often, you come out with a fucking amazing record from not thinking about it and not overanalysing it – and I think ‘See This Through’ was an occasion where that happened.”

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Talking about how the track was created, Alex said he had the top-line from “two awesome writers I work with, Lapsley and Clem”, and that “Dot liked it straight away”.

They then spent time pitching the vocals and playing around with the synths in Dot’s studio. “When you’re working with other people, it’s really involving to have a bunch of stuff around,” Dot said.

‘See This Through’ – which Alex described as “a festival banger” with the vocal breakdown reminding him of sunset at Glastonbury – is taken from his upcoming six-track EP which “he’s really stoked about because it’s been a while since I’ve released a body of work under the name Alex Metric.”

The pair told NME that ‘See This Through’ isn’t the only song they’ve got together, though, adding that they have another song with Lapsley and Clem. “We’ve got another vocal, which feels really connected to the first one,” Dot said.

Alex added that he and Dot are getting in the studio together this month: “The longer you work with people, the better the music gets, and having long-term musical relationships is far more preferable than speed dating studio sessions”.

Dot added: “There’s an immediacy to what Alex does, which I admire. With a lot of the stuff we’ve been doing, it’s interesting to work in that way.”

Last month, Dot’s track ‘Hideaway’ featured on NME’s C23 compilation. “It was really good timing because it’s great to have as many different possibilities of getting my music out at the moment,” he said. “It means that I can do slightly different contextual things in different moments, and then hopefully start to tie it all together”.

While he said an EP is likely this summer, Dot told NME that he “doesn’t feel ready for there to be a solo album yet.

“It’s liberating just going song-by-song right now, and I’m enjoying that feeling,” he said. Talking about what’s next for London Grammar, Dot teased that “we are definitely getting there” and that “there will be a lot more news this year.

“We’re all really excited, because it’s been a little while – as it always is with us.”

Speaking to NME last year, London Grammar teased that the follow-up to the acclaimed Number One album ‘California Soil‘ would be “deep” and “their best yet”.

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