Words: Madeline Montisano
Keep your eyes and ears peeled for Walt Disco’s experimental and musically sequenced debut album ‘Unlearning’ out now via Lucky Number. This album will take you on a musical journey about learning to accept your gender identity over quarantine, fears surrounding loved ones dying and being accepted into the world as non-binary. This Glasgow-based six-piece takes glam-pop to another level with fabulous outfits and drag performances that make their shows unforgettable. After a stint in Texas performing at South by Southwest (SXSW) and now back in the UK on tour, LDN had the opportunity to video-chat with James Potter the mastermind behind the lyrics and lead singer, Charlie Lock the bassist, and Finlay McCarthy the synth player.
How was the first leg of your tour?
James: Yeah it was great. We were in Texas at SXSW [international arts festival]. We played nine shows in seven days so it was pretty hectic. I’m kinda still recovering from it… it was mental but I loved it. After the flight, we had a couple hours at home, got some sleep and filmed a music video [Be An Actor]. Then we drove to London after the music video to record a Radio 1 session.
We saw that the tour van broke down too?
Finlay: [laughing to themself] We tried to drive home and then the van exploded. The steering broke while it was going at five miles an hour, thank god.
Wow. This has been a packed couple of weeks for you guys.
Finlay: [sarcastically] Hustle never stops… I don’t support hustle culture, let it be known on the record.
LDN: [in agreement] Grind never stops, guys.
“This is how we like to approach music. You have the most fun in music or you can go as dark as we want. That artistry is very inspiring.”
You’re known for your flamboyant look. Have there been any outfits that you guys were like, ‘holy shit this is overly extravagant’ or do those tend to be some of your favourites?
James: I think at every show we try to top it. The outfits we wore on the last day of SXSW were quite ridiculous. There’s a photo of all of us on twitter and we’re all doing the funniest thing in the funniest outfits. It makes me laugh so much.
After looking through your Instagram, we were wondering where you get your outfits from?
Finlay: [Proudly] I’m a little Vinted fiend. Not to brag or anything but I’m really good at it.
Your performances are known to be wild and unexpected. What has been your most theatrical stunt so far?
Finlay: I do like a high kick. I’m gonna get my leg up there.
Charlie: [laughing] My favourite moment with Finlay at the last show at SXSW was you just screamed into the mic “My glasses say Whiteclaw on them”. That was perfect… and you did it mid-song.
“The experimentation in the production, like making mad beats with samples of cars crashing… it goes hand-in-hand with the songwriting.”
Some of the songs on ‘Unlearning’ are self-produced. How did that go?
Finlay: I think it definitely made it feel more like a proper homegrown nurtured record. It gave us a chance to really think about what we wanted to sound like. The experimentation in the production, like making mad beats with samples of cars crashing… it goes hand-in-hand with the songwriting. Those sounds very quickly influenced moods and then James came up with the lyrics really quick.
We feel like we can relate to a lot of the themes of coming to terms with your gender identity and the relatability within that, especially over quarantine when everyone had time to sit back and think about themselves. ‘Unlearning’ really is the beauty within accepting yourself and going with it. Is that the intention you had?
James: The original intention was being authentic to me and being as open as possible. I think when you open yourself up like that to the world then it becomes more relatable.
You really pinned down the effect that being forced into a pandemic can have on our identities in a way that we wouldn’t be able to.
James: I’m glad that it’s resonating with people…[jokingly] One more thing for all the kids out there. Never stop hustling if you work hard!
For this album, you listened to a lot of bands from the 1930s-1950s. What figure stood out to you in that time period?
James: Billie Holiday. I like how she was able to do really whimsical and wistful love songs and then do the darkest songs you’ve ever heard like ‘Gloomy Sunday’ and ‘Strange Fruit’. This is how we like to approach music. You have the most fun in music or you can go as dark as we want. That artistry is very inspiring.
What do you guys want the biggest takeaway to be from ‘Unlearning’?
Finlay: I suppose just that self-discovery doesn’t have to be instantaneous. It can take a while and it’s okay to make mistakes along the way.
‘Unlearning’ is out now via Lucky Number.
Where to find out more?