Upstairs Open release debut single ‘You Got Love’ on September 22nd. Listen here: https://soundcloud.com/upstairsopen/you-got-love-1/
This has been a long time coming. Upstairs Open have an origin story that stretches back half a decade – it twists through serious illness and different career paths – but fate had more in store, and now Daniel James and Courtney Paynter (Upstairs Open) are ready to embark upon the most exciting journey of their lives.
Produced by James Earp (Fickle Friends, Bipolar Sunshine) the genre-defying mix of natural and electronic tones is threaded through with male/female vocal strands that twirl in symbiosis – it’s not a duet, far from it. Courtney explains that a mutual love of contrasts has given rise to their own signature sound, and both she and Daniel describe this introduction as a “balance” that draws each corner of Upstairs Open together – it’s a vital piece of their puzzle, and the first taste of a debut EP that’s being readied for release in the near future.
Speaking about the track they explain, “You Got Love is a song about temptation, lust, and discovery. People can become lost in curiosity, with a bittersweet understanding of knowing that when you can’t have something, you want it more.”
The pair met through a mutual friend, musical director Sam Kennedy (Foxes, Bastille), during a studio session – although the results haven’t stood the test of time (“We wrote an absolutely terrible song,” admits Daniel) the friendship has. Afterwards Courtney went to university and Daniel began forging his own sound; for most, that session would be the end – for these two talents, it was the seeds of a beginning.
While Courtney dedicated her time to studying in Edinburgh, Daniel found a level of success as a solo artist under his own name, inking a deal with Capitol Records and touring with Hozier. Just before setting out on a run of arena dates with Sam Smith, destiny revealed a nasty surprise for the budding artist: “I found a lump,” Daniel explains.
Just days later Daniel had an operation to remove a tumour and his chemotherapy began – music was forced into the backseat (“I wanted to feel like my body was strong so I started doing stupid exercise programmes…”) but eventually it returned to the forefront with gusto – Daniel’s desire and drive enhanced along the way.
Years had passed, and although their paths diverged both Courtney and Daniel found themselves back in London at the same time, and caught up properly over a pint (“or 10!” as Courtney admits) – it’s here that tipsy blueprints for Upstairs Open took shape, but this was far from a drunken promise (we’ve all been there…). “It was spontaneous but we felt we had to do something,” Daniel says.
Over the coming months the duo met up in Daniel’s South London flat for weekly sessions, revelling in the organic, restraint-free nature of working sans external pressures – “we wanted to really listen to ourselves… there’s a lot more freedom when you’re sat in a flat writing with a bottle of wine than when you have people telling you that you have to sound like someone else,” says Courtney. As time ticked by it was clear something special was happening – Upstairs Open needed a producer, and that’s where Daniel’s long-time collaborator James Earp (Fickle Friends, Bipolar Sunshine) came in.
“We know each other,” says Daniel of James Earp. “We know how we work, how we get annoyed, we know there are bumps and arguments, but we know in the end there will be music to get excited about.”
Upstairs Open has been a long time coming. Both Daniel and Courtney are fiery-eyed and determined, eager to embark on their journey and carve their own future. Unlike so many other new names thrown into the spotlight, Upstairs Open come battle-worn and hardened by time and boosted by freedom – this has been a gradual process, but the dedication from the pair is unparalleled and it’s their own burning desire that’s seen the project become a reality. They’ve worked bloody hard to get to this point, and although they’ve given a lot of themselves to this first step there’s so much more to give.
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