Glass Animals Choose Music Over Med School, Work With Adele's Producer

Glass Animals

David Ellis

U.K. band was discovered by Paul Epworth and were promptly signed to his label.

When Glass Animals mastermind Dave Bayley placed the earliest demos of his musical project with a friend online a few years ago, the songs garnered attention almost immediately. Bayley’s next move was a bit unorthodox, though -- he opted to remove the songs from the Web.

“We were in the middle of university degrees and didn't want to mess that up,” the 22-year-old singer-songwriter explains to Billboard. “We actually ended up taking everything offline for a while and spent the next few years finishing up our degrees.”

Not only did Bayley, the son of a well-travelled scientist, choose to focus on his studies -- understandable, since he was pursuing a degree in medicine at London’s King’s College -- but that decision also meant putting his musical ambitions on the back burner. Fortunately, Bayley shifted to a bachelor’s program in neuroscience, and was able to resurrect the project upon graduation.

Enter Glass Animals, an Oxfordshire-based quartet with a ear for trip-hop and psychedelic indie pop. Musicians Drew MacFarlane, Edmund Irwin-Singer, and Joe Seaward were added to complete the lineup, and when a certain famous producer took notice at a local show earlier this year, it was assured that Bayley wouldn’t soon be returning to science.

“I was about to go onstage, and saw Paul Epworth was on the guest list,” Bayley remembers. “I kind of panicked a little bit… He gets sent loads of music every day. I imagine someone sent him some of our music and he just turned up at one of our shows.”

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Bayley's reverence was natural -- after all, Epworth is best known for producing and co-writing Adele’s "Rolling in the Deep," in addition to working with artists like Bruno Mars, Foster The People and Florence & The Machine. After chatting up the producer following the show and exchanging personal tastes in the studio, Epworth signed Glass Animals to his own Wolf Tone label in the U.K. last summer, making them the first act on the new imprint (the band's releases will drop via Harvest Records in the U.S., to which they signed last September). 

On Nov. 5, Glass Animals released the 4-song EP “Psylla,” their first offering under Epworth’s guidance (for the non-science nerds out there, 'psylla' refers to a genus of insects). "Every once in a while he would pop his head in and try to push us," Bayley says of Epworth -- though even with the famous producer in the fold, the frontman has continued to self-produce the band’s music. "Songs normally start off as a nugget of music I make in my room or in the studio alone,” Bayley explains. “I usually come up with the ideas at very weird times of day -- either when I'm about to go to sleep or have just woken up."

Perhaps this is what leads to the dreamy, surrealist tone of Glass Animals’ lyrics. Bayley's words certainly lend themselves to the claymation-inspired video for “Exxus,” another “Psylla” EP highlight. Check it out below:

At the time of the interview, Bayley was “listening to Nina Simone and trying to decide on an album title” for Glass Animals' full-length debut, which will arrive next year. They’re still yet to tour the United States, though with the release approaching, Bayley hopes an SXSW appearance -- perhaps with a connecting stop in New York -- is in the cards.

One thing's for certain -- Bayley is not pulling the plug on Glass Animals again. "I would love to keep doing music," he says. "I can't really imagine going back to medicine."