LeeFest 2016 Interview: Tarek Musa of Spring King

By on Tuesday, 30th August 2016 at 11:00 am

In case you missed last year’s launch of Beats 1 Radio, Zane Lowe’s new home after leaving BBC Radio 1, he had the choice of the entirety of recorded music to kick off these new airwaves. The track he chose, Spring King‘s ‘City’, was not only a surprise to us early listeners, but it was also an unregistered shock to Tarek Musa, Spring King’s drummer and vocalist (pictured second from right in the photo at top). “I was in my boxer shorts playing drums and a journalist from London texted me saying congratulations. I was like, ‘What for?’ I didn’t know what he was on about and he just went, ‘Go online’. I instantly got it, and I couldn’t believe it, it was fucking insane.” As Musa remembers this moment that will surely never be forgotten in the Spring King story, you can still see the amazement and disbelief in this face.

Speaking to TGTF at LeeFest 2016 where the band played a triumphant set, Musa continues recalling this joyous memory. “I guess the Beats 1 thing was like a massive booster. Just before it we went to SXSW [2015] which was quite a big thing for us, and after that Courtney Barnett asked us to support her on her UK tour. The Beats 1 thing was the catalyst on top of the Courtney Barnett and SXSW pieces. It was so cool, that was one of the most crazy experiences of my life. It wasn’t like a PR thing or anything, we had no idea. I just got really drunk for 3 days to celebrate. It was fucking insane, those few days were filled with the idea of what could happen.”

The first change they found was probably the most obvious, as Musa explains. “I think what that did for us primarily was get us a bit of label attention. We had labels who were already interested but a lot of bigger labels sparked interest. More importantly, though, we had so many more people listening to ‘City’, and then listening to Spring King. So many young people commenting on YouTube being all ‘oh, I was brought here by Beats 1!’ etc., that was really insane. That was when our fanbase really began to grow, and that’s what it’s about, playing to loads of people.”

With all this newfound publicity and a fanbase that gained in numbers almost within the space of a 3 and a half minute track, the next obvious move was the debut album, though Musa says it wasn’t actually in the pipeline straight away. “We didn’t start writing the album ’til September because we just came off a tour and went straight into the studio but then went on tour with Slaves and Spector. We had 3 weeks to do the album in the month of September, it wasn’t really planned.”

Going further into this time period, Musa recalls enthusiastically, “I had all these demos and I was like, ‘We’re gonna record these in the studio’ and we had this massive plan of these songs, but when we got there, and we’d never been in a recording studio in our lives as Spring King, it was like, ‘Whoa, there’s a keyboard there and a couple of guitars there, let’s try them all out!’ and then all of a sudden we had all these new sounds. Then we started writing songs in the studio, so we went in with 15 songs we were adamant were going to be on the album and then we wrote 5 new ones while there. It was just such an inspiring place.”

The normal Spring King writing process had reached a bit of a impasse, which fortunately led to this studio time. “We write all our stuff normally in my house, an old lady used to live there in an annex, so we used to record everything there. We had this album planned and we had it planned in for like, late August, nearly set, and then my brother decided to move back in with his baby so we couldn’t record in the house. So we were like, ‘We need to get a studio but we can’t afford this’. Luckily at the same time, the PRS for Music Foundation emailed us and told us our application had been accepted for a grant. It was the perfect time.”

It can’t be denied that Spring King’s current success is a mixture of both hard work and sheer luck. From being the first broadcasted piece of music on a worldwide internet radio station to a funding grant for studio time, they always appear to land on their feet. Musa knows that they need to keep the traction going while it’s still here, over a year after the jettison into the mainstream. “I think the next steps for us is just touring more and thinking about album two. We’ll maybe drop that in about a year or so, but mainly just loads of touring. I think for us, people think ‘Oh, you are doing really well’, but when you’re in the van you don’t really feel that, you just go to shows and play. It might be to more and more people, but that’s all you think about.”

TGTF’s previous coverage of Spring King, including their aforementioned appearances at SXSW 2015 and a review of their debut album ‘Tell Me If You Like To’, is gathered right back here. Check out their new single ‘Detroit’ just below; they’ll be all over the place in the UK on tour in October.


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