Under the Radar is Highsnobiety’s celebration of upcoming talent. Each week, we’re spotlighting a rising artist who is bringing something new to the world of music and is capturing our hearts and minds (and ears). This week we’re featuring Radiant Children, an electro-pop outfit with a serious visual flair.
It may have taken a wedding cover band, a cancelled studio session playing backup for another artist, and a few thousand miles, but eventually, Radiant Children came together. For Fabienne Holloway, Tyler Accord, and Marco Bernardis, the three members of the cheerful R&B soul group, the magic they’ve captured in their music capped individual journeys through genres and recording studios around the world.
Now based in London, Marco originally hails from Surrey, while Fabienne grew up in the west Midlands of the United Kingdom and Tyler was born and raised in Washington in the United States. While the band came together three years ago, it was a wedding cover band that united Marco and Tyler. Of course, channeling the spirit of The Wedding Singer isn’t as fulfilling as Adam Sandler would like you to believe and so, one day, the two turned a chance cancelling for a studio appointment into a 15-hour jam session with Fabienne, the soulful singer at the heart of Radiant Children.
“We were all so excited because it actually felt like we were doing something for us. We were making music we wanted to make and it was just sick,” Marco recalled on a Skype call last month as he sat grinning next to Tyler. For the trio, it was a formative experience as they began making music for themselves for the first time, eventually releasing their debut EP TRYIN’ this year.
Now based out of London, we caught up with Tyler and Marco as they took a break from working on new music to talk about their infectiously euphoric sound, fighting the pressure of fast-paced city life, and wondering if the Times Square Spotify billboard for their album was photoshopped.
You all worked as session musicians for other artists before you started recording together. How’d you first meet?
Tyler Accord: I met Marco [Bernardis] first and we just kind of hit it off. I think we were together, just the two of us, for close to a year before I met Fabienne [Holloway], but they had already known each other. The three of us had a day off one day when we were supposed to have a session, the artist canceled or something, and we were just like, “Oh we should just go to the studio and write anyways.” That’s what started the whole thing.
How’d you feel the first time you made a song together, all three of you?
Marco Bernardis: Oh buzzin’. Absolutely buzzin’, mate. We actually, that time when we went to the studio, we were actually planning in taking it waves. We were thinking we would get there at midday and probably leave at six or even before then — but we were there for like 15 hours.
How many songs did you record that first time? Or were you just kind of jamming around?
MB: Basically, that 14 hour session that we did, we only did one song. Fabien came in with a basic idea. She had some chords and an idea that she wanted to write about, and we just went with it and it grew in that first session. I think later on that week, we tried working on a few other ideas, like writing a few beats, writing a few top lines, but that first one was one day.
I was in a recording studio for the first time over the weekend and it’s so cool to feel that creative energy in the studio when everyone is on the same wavelength.
TA: Yeah, man.
MB: It’s special.
TA: Yeah, it’s really personal, too. It varies how people fit together. That’s why I think it’s notable when it is special, and when you really connect with how another person creates, because I’ve been in so many sessions where I’m like, “Dude, get me out of here.”
Yeah. Especially as a session musician because you’re going in and out of so many different atmospheres. I was wondering, were there any specific albums or artists that made you want to pursue music when you were younger?
TA: Oh man, I’m sure we both have so many.
MB: Tyler and I definitely have a tower of power sort of thing that we’ve bonded over. Me, personally, I was definitely more into funk and soul music. I loved Average White Band, Marvin Young, [and] James Brown.
TA: Yeah. I had a lot of old school influence from my parents, and stuff that I gravitated towards; a lot of Stevie Wonder and stuff like that. And then, the first thing that I personally remember discovering and really liking on my own was underground hip hop. That’s when I started DJing and making beats, and then I got into a bunch of different stuff. There are too many to name because they’re all from different phases of my life.
You guys have talked about taking your time with writing. How do you do that while you fight the pressure of fast paced cities like London?
MB: It’s fucked. It’s fucked. We were just chatting outside about how sometimes when you get out early in the morning, it really makes a difference in your day. If you can get out and avoid the rush of everyone and the feeling of being in a busy city where a lot of shit’s going on. We go to the studio and we shut the door, and we feel like we’re in a special place, and that’s sick, but some days, you just get caught up in it all, and it can be really difficult.
Do you feel the pressure of social media also makes it hard? Do you feel like you constantly have to create music and put out music?
TA: By default, social media stresses me the fuck out. It makes me feel like if I’m not doing enough, and not putting stuff out fast enough, and if I’m going down in followers, I’m failing. I think it’s really important to not get super caught up in the pressure, but to stay aware. That’s my personal outlook. And Fabien; she absolutely is just not with it. She doesn’t have an Instagram. Doesn’t even dabble at all; doesn’t care about it.
MB: I feel like I used to be really into when it was just for my group of friends in school. But then, when you get out of that, you’re into your profession, and you’re seeing a lot of people upload videos and doing things or posting things, it’s hard. It’s just hard as a human being not to naturally compare yourself.
Yeah. And it’s hard as a creative because it kind of has become essential to your career to have that.
TA: Exactly. That’s why there’s a balance. I think one of our mission statements is to show that we can progress as artists without putting so much importance on it. There’s a lot that we want to explore. What if we didn’t do literally every single check list because this stuff stresses us out? That’s our reality. We’re fuckin’ stressed out band members when we look at this shit, so why don’t we make a band that doesn’t have to conform to literally every single pressure of that, you know?
When your EP came out, you guys were on the Times Square billboard. How did that feel when you found out?
TA: It was mad. It was a mix, because it’s a little bit like, what have we done to deserve that? We just started, but somebody at Spotify was just a fan, and thought it was tight, so it was a nice surprise.
MB: We definitely thought it’d been photoshopped.
When people listen to your music, what kind of message or feeling do you want them to take away from it?
TA: You should definitely get whatever you want out of it. If you’ve ever felt this way… if we’re singing about the things that you felt, just know that there’s other people out there that feel that way and it’s totally fine to.
Be sure to check out last week’s edition of Under the Radar with Snoh Aalegra.