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We premiere Real Lies’ new single and visual Boss Trick.

To say much has changed in London since Real Lies released their 2015 debut would be a grave understatement. While the tide of clubs closing and rents rising has been underway for a well over a decade now, the last five years have seen wealth inequality in the city accelerate and the kind of hedonism celebrated by the then-trio retreat even further to the outskirts of the capital. Compounded with the ongoing disaster of Brexit, which now looks set to damage the UK’s musical and nightlife even further, and successive tory general elections wins, much of the rave-tinted optimism that once permeated Real Lies music has gone.

In the world of Real Lies a lot has changed too, most notably the departure of Tom Watson, leaving Kev Kharas and Patrick King as a duo. As a result, the band needed some time to regroup, to reflect on what Real Lies might look like in 2020. As Kharas puts it in his interview below, “all these things have contrived to tear apart the world of that first record, and you can’t write songs from a world that doesn’t exist any more.” Instead of hanging on to that world, Kharas and King decided to give it a proper farewell, writing a new cluster of songs, collectively titled Lad Ash, to say goodbye to the world Real Lies once inhabited.

Today, we premiere new single Boss Trick, a track written as an ode to Watson and the latest taste of that collection of songs. Sonically, everything you’d expect from a Real Lies track is still there – Kharas’ winding, narrative-led lyrics, nostalgic, rave indebted instrumentals and the afterparty wistfulness that ties it all together. However, there’s a renewed sense of purpose too, a sense that the pair are wading through memories in search of some new enlightenment to guide them through the mire that London’s become. Watch the video below and read on for a chat with Kharas about the ‘new era’ of Real Lies.

Boss Trick is a farewell to your former band member Tom Watson, is it odd putting out a song about something so integral to the inner workings of the group?

It would have felt odder not to address it, I think. In a wider sense, it’s less about the departure of Watson than it is cutting ties with the world that our debut album existed in. The lyrics and the video are a kind of free-form memory reel of the journey we went on together as a group in those formative years. To get to the next stage of what we want to do with Real Lies, we had to say farewell to where we’d been before. Otherwise, it just haunts you.

Why did you want to release it as a single?

In the years since we released our debut album, almost everything it was written about has changed profoundly – clubs have shut down, rents have shot up, hedonism has taken its toll and a number of friends have died or gone missing. All these things have contrived to tear apart the world of that first record, and you can’t write songs from a world that doesn’t exist any more. There was quite a forlorn period where I was walking the streets by myself a lot, getting into trouble and rueing stuff, and at points, we toyed with the idea of moving on and changing what Real Lies was entirely. But in the end, I found myself kicking against that. I wanted to tell the story.

We’re in a different phase now, and there’s a collection of songs around the corner called Lad Ash, this single being part of it. Each song from Lad Ash is a farewell to something, but also about finding solace in what you’re left with and excitement in something new. The ‘L’ word is loaded, I know. But I wanted to confront it head-on, show the distance between then and now.

Boss Trick itself emerged out of our third UNREAL Radio session, from August last year. Patrick closed it with an old track off Terrence Parker’s Intangible label – it’s a magical sounding tune, and after we sent the radio demo to Detroit, the great man gave us his blessing to use the sample.

© Rollo Jackson

Do you think this marks a new era of sorts for the band?

Yes. The core ethos remains. The sense of mission hasn’t changed. But the personnel has. Also, I got myself a nice new pair of boots and a decent suit, so it felt like the right time for a bit of a shift.

What was the concept behind the video? Why did you decide to work with Rollo Jackson again?

Rollo has been there since day one. He knows exactly where we’re coming from and sees things in us that we don’t even see ourselves. We’re entirely self-managed now, self-releasing and plotting our own tours and club nights. That’s rewarding but Rollo has been an invaluable guiding force for us, working as a creative director. Shouts to Zinglyng also.

How have the various cultural upsets – Brexit, successive Tory wins, etc – of the last few years impacted the way you approach making music?

The only tangible effect on our music has been to turn London into a city that feels less permissible of a carefree lifestyle. It’s been a while since it’s felt easy to lead a romantic life here, one that felt bidden along by some unseen guiding hand. That feeling is rarer these days but it’s still there, I think, you just have to break out of the old self-destructive cycles and find new routes through. Obviously, in a wider sense, there is a higher quotient of snobs, bullies, cowards and divs to deal with on a day-to-day basis, but I try to shut them out of the music if I can. Their fearful noise pollutes.

Is there a longer Real Lies project in the works for this year?

Lad Ash will be arriving on the cusp of summer, alongside our night at Corsica Studios in June and a run of UK and European shows in March and April. This phase will last as long as it needs to – beyond that, who knows. For now we’re just enjoying ourselves and seeing where it takes us.

Real Lies tour the UK and Europe starting in March.