Sinclair Belle, singer and guitarist with Leeds five-piece Happy Daggers, sounds elated.
Four days earlier he and his band performed at Stevie Wonder’s open air concert in London’s Hyde Park and it seems having the chance to share a British Summer Time bill with one of the greats of American soul music had been one they’d thoroughly enjoyed.
“It was an absolutely amazing day,” Belle says. “It was just great to be part of the whole thing, to be honest, and to see Stevie Wonder as well was amazing.”
The show was one of a number of festival dates this year for a band who are increasingly in demand. “We’ve already done Live At Leeds and Long Division, British Summer Time and Beat-Herder [in the Ribble Valley],” Belle explains. Tomorrow they’re at Blackthorn Festival in Cheshire then on Saturday they’re due to play at Mustard Stock at The Mustard Pot pub in Chapel Allerton.
Happy Daggers formed five years ago. “As time’s passed we’ve changed our sound a little,” says Belle, explaining how they’ve been gradually veering towards a more contemporary pop sound since the arrival of keyboard player Jordan Fearnley two years ago. Last year they played on the BBc Intorudcing Stage at Leeds and Reading Festivals.
Their new single, Need Your Love, follows in the wake of four EPs. “It’s definitely got more of a contemporary sound to it,” Belle says. “That was because we were really keen to trying to freshen things up and use the potential that we’ve got for a more modern sound, having Jordan on keys, and we really wanted to work with a producer who’d get the best out of us.
“Being in bands for years, the thing that we’d found the hardest was making a sound that wasn’t just a live sound as a recording. We wanted to get the most out of what we could do. Working with Ed Heaton, he really helped to get that out of us. It was much more like a production session rather than just somebody who was recording us.
“We really sat down and talked about every element of the song and tried to make it sound not just as it was when we played it live.”
The band used three recording studios for this song and another that they are due to release later in the year. Belle praises the “absolutely beautiful surroundings” at Chapel FM’s facility in Seacroft. “We did a demo in the chapel room upstairs – that was really good to just plan everything out. Then we moved to The Loft and finished everyting off in Ed’s studio, The Coal Room.”
Happy Daggers’ long term plan is “to keep recording” with the hope of assembling an album. Belle hopes that could work with Heaton again. “It was an absolutely exceptional experience working with Ed, we’d work with him again tomorrow if we could. If we have time to record again over the summer we’d definitely like to work with him again.”
Each time we do a gig that’s quite big and we get a decent reception we get better offers coming in which is really good. We can’t ask for more than that.
Beyond the festival season, Belle says the band have “the usual continuation of gigging”, with shows on the horizon in Huddersfield, Sheffield, Leeds and Manchester.
“At the back end of the year we tend to slow down a bit and focus on writing and maybe doing some more recording,” he adds. “I’d imagine we’ll do some more of that towards the end of this year.”
But, with growing interest in the band from promoters and booking agents, time could be tight. “Each time we do a gig that’s quite big and we get a decent reception we get better offers coming in which is really good,” says Belle. “We can’t ask for more than that, really – that people in the industry want to book us and people want to see us, that’s amazing.”
Happy Daggers play at The Mustard Pot on Saturday July 23. Need Your Love is available digitally now. For further details visit http://www.happydaggers.co.uk/