DIVA meets the Glasgow-London indie pop duo making a big impression with their little paws
BY CARRIE LYELL, IMAGES BY KATHERINE ROSE
Sacred Paws are Eilidh Rodgers and Rachel Aggs, two friends who started making music, long distance, in 2012 as an excuse to spend more time together.
Seven years, many Megabus miles and one award-winning album later, the indie pop duo are back with what might be our favourite record of 20-fine-teen.
Infectious, fun and upbeat, Run Around The Sun is full of soaring melodies, snappy beats and shimmering guitar riffs. From start to finish, it’s poetry, and a proper bop of a record.
So how did it come to be? We met Eilidh and Rachel at their “spiritual home” – Mono in Glasgow – to find out how two “depressives” created an album infused with so much optimism.
DIVA: Run Around The Sun is vibrant and uplifting, which, to me, feels rebellious and defiant, given the current political backdrop. Is that something that you’ve done on purpose?
Rachel: We make the music that we need to make in order to cheer ourselves up. Maybe it is quite joyous music, but we’re not always having the best time when we’re writing it [laughs]. It’s kind of cathartic and necessary.
Eilidh: Yeah, we’re actually crying in the studio [laughs]. It’s a funny mix, a balance. Finding a joyful thing in something that’s a bit sad.
Rachel: We’re actually really depressive people. We’re really sensitive. So, if something’s a bit sad, we can’t handle it!
In what other ways do your personalities trickle into the music you’re making?
Eilidh: A lot. I don’t anymore, but Rachel still plays in other bands, [Shopping and Trash Kit] and it’s funny because they are quite different. So, I guess this must be a sort of combination of our personalities. I think I bring out the ernest side of Rachel. The emo side [laughs].
Rachel: Other bands I play in, the lyrics are more pointed or confrontational. It’s more punk. And I think about it more as a concept, the songs. Whereas, with Sacred Paws, it’s just… [laughs] “How do you feel today?”
Eilidh: It’s all heart.
Rachel: That’s all we’re writing about. There’s no politics. I mean, everything is political, but it’s very much reliant on who we are and how we communicate.
Do you have a favourite track on the album?
Rachel: I like a song called Shame On Me. That’s one that we wrote pretty late in the day. We were struggling, working on things that we didn’t really like and then we were like, “What about that thing that we tried once? Oh, actually, that’s really good!”
Eilidh: That was a funny day. We were practicing for hours. Really like, “Oh my god. We’re never going to write another song again in our lives”.
Rachel: At one point we were literally lying on the floor. The song is about feeling a bit ashamed for almost giving up. Specifically writing songs, but also – generally – on anything. On relationships, or anything in life.
Eilidh: Was it not an autocorrect? You tried to write something and it autocorrected to Shame On Me? We were like, “Fuck it, let’s call it that”.
Rachel: Don’t share these top-secret song writing techniques…
Your debut record, Strike A Match, won a fair bit of critical acclaim and the Scottish Album of the Year award 2017. How does that change the way you work? Do you feel more pressure this time around?
Eilidh: It probably made us worry a wee bit more about it. There were points when I was quite excited and I was like, “This is going to be really great”, and then the next time I listened to it I was like, “I can’t handle this, I hate it, I’m sorry. What is this music?” [Laughs]
Rachel: That happens with everything, every record I’ve ever done. There’s no way around it. But it’s a bit more intense, with this record.
Eilidh: It’s the thought of people hearing it that makes it kind of terrifying!
Rachel: Yeah. You know it’s going to be reviewed, whereas I think the stuff we’ve done in the past, it’s like, “Maybe no one will write about it, maybe we’ll be fine”. [Laughs] We both have a bit of impostor syndrome. We’re like, “How has this happened? Why has this happened? That record wasn’t even that good…” [Laughs] Well, we didn’t think so. Then you’re like, “God, do we have to do something better or…?” We don’t even know what we’re doing!
Impostor syndrome is the worst. What other stumbling blocks have you come across so far on this journey?
Rachel: General lack of organisation, ambition… [laughs]. A lot of people nowadays are encouraged to view their band as, like, a business and we are not good at that. But we’re getting better.
Eilidh: We’re trying. We were maybe going to make some merch!
Rachel: [Laughs] We’ve been in a band for almost a decade and we’ve never had merch…
Many queer artists harbour a reticence to be labelled as such. Is that something you think about?
Eilidh: I definitely don’t want to alienate anyone. I don’t want it to be like, “This is music for queer people”. It’s meant to be inclusive.
Rachel: Yeah. But I like that it’s a thing people can identify with… it would have meant a lot to me when I was a kid, had there been more bands that were openly queer or looked more like me. So that’s really important to me.
Visibility is incredibly powerful, whether you talk about queerness in your music or not.
Rachel: When I was a kid, I used to listen to more “queercore” bands and bands that were really politically queer… Because it was harder at that point, and you felt like you needed to fight more to even be on stage, being queer. It’s not really the same climate as when I was growing up. Even a magazine like DIVA, I remember reading and being like, “Wow”! It was this illicit thing. There weren’t any magazines like that. There weren’t any queer people being interviewed… It was a big deal. It doesn’t feel so much like that now. But I still hope that it means something to young people.
Eilidh: You kind of take it for granted now because we’re maybe in communities where queer people gravitate towards each other… But, when I was growing up in East Kilbride, I didn’t know any queer people. It was not the nicest environment. There are still people out there on the fringes, so it’s important to have visibility.
This interview first appeared in the June 2019 issue of DIVA – grab your digital copy right here!