Willow Shields
Willow Shields

Music photographer and journalist based in South London.

Photos by @mcomms

Pretty Preachers Club are Martha McKay and Hannah Berry, a glittering duo lavishing in the unexpected success of their debut EP ‘Going Nowhere Fast’, in which they expertly pair hazy vocals with glimmering synths to create an intimate sound. The Glasgow duo released their debut single ‘Nothing Like You’ back in October and since then have released monumental singes ‘Think About U’ and ‘Gap in My Teeth’ as precursors to the EP.

The pair called me from their recording studio/shed/garage and we had a chat about the astounding reception of their EP, the band’s influences and future plans.


Willow: Okie Dokie let’s get into it guys; how are we doing? 

Hannah: Good yeah, it’s Martha’s birthday on Thursday she’s drinking already. 

Martha: Just started pre’s! and I handed in my dissertation today for my final year.

Willow: So, your EP ‘Going Nowhere Fast‘… wow… and it’s already had 9000 streams right?

Hannah: I think it’s 12?

Martha: 12.5 yeah. 

….

Willow: Oh my god! That’s mental. How are you guys feeling about it?

Martha: It’s fucking crazy, I remember checking at midnight when it came out and 40 people were listening to it and I was like “what the fuck?” I don’t think I even know 40 people. 

Hannah: I don’t even have 40 friends…

Martha: It just means so much to see people, it just felt like all these people are waiting up to.. I mean they obviously weren’t, they were probably just awake and were like “awh..I’ll listen to this” but it was really cool.

Willow: I’m honestly blown away by it, big congrats to you guys! so.. how did you guys meet?

Hannah: we did a musical…

(Martha: musical theatre!)

Hannah: And we did a show in summer 2, maybe 3 years ago and it was a group that I’d done loads of shows with and Martha auditioned.

Martha: Then we go to the same uni so we kinda through that as well…

….

Willow: Where does the name Pretty Preachers Club come from?

Martha: It’s a good story, right so during lockdown we were just kinda meeting up because we hadn’t seen eachother in 3 months obviously and we’d been kinda talking about doing stuff and “collabing” and then we met up for a picnic. We got a bit drunk and then we came back and we were like “fuck it, let’s start a band”, and we were listening to Dusty Springfield’s ‘Son of a Preacher Man’. We had this random name generator, a band name generator and I was like “what words can we type in?” and it just kind of happened, it was so random…

Hannah: We were like “do we like it? I dunno.”

Martha: Yeah and thought “we can change it if we don’t like it in the future” but I guess it just kinda stuck. 

Willow: How do you think the pandemic had affected you as artists individually and together? 

Martha: I think surprisingly it had a good impact on us because it gave us so much free time and there was nothing else for us to be doing because we weren’t working or at uni, so we were just writing songs every day and practicing everyday, sending each other snippets of things and it just meant it gave us way more free time to do that.

Hannah: Yeah it didn’t give us an excuse anymore to say, “oh I’m too busy” or anything.

Martha: It was a perfect kick up the arse to buckle down and do it!

“Everyone can do a mix of everything , there’s no limits or labels for people nowadays…”

Martha Mckay – Pretty Preachers Club

Willow: So, who do you think you have a crossover of fan bases with?

Hannah: We have fans?

Martha: Actually.. the Scottish community, we’ve got a few followers of teenage girls who have come over from Walt Disco and stuff. Sometimes when people follow us I go on who they follow and it’s always Lucia and Walt Disco and stuff like that…. And there are a few LANY fan accounts who follow us.

..

Willow: And Courting! You’ve played on their upcoming EP Martha?

Martha: So I played a song for a band and I posted about it on my close friends [story on Instagram] and then Sean from Courting saw it and said “would you do some strings for us?” And I was like “yeah fuck it” so they sent me the EP and said “just fire in where you want” so I just recorded some bits and sent it to them. So that was a really cool opportunity actually, I love the Courting guys they’re so nice.

Willow: When you were writing ‘Going Nowhere Fast’ did you know what you wanted it to sound like? or was it just seeing what happens?

Hannah: I think kind of and kind of not, because we didn’t really plan it. We didn’t have a structure; we weren’t like “this songs going to be like this.” We had 9 not full songs but wee bits and then we trimmed it and put it all in order and from that worked it out. I think the sound came from music we like…

Martha: It’s different influences of Pale Waves and LANY and wee bits. And I feel like you can listen to [the EP] and you can hear out music taste in it. 

Hannah: And it’s good that we have similar vibes, it’s good that we’re not total opposites.

Willow: I think that’s what makes Pretty Preachers Club just work. You can tell that you guys work impeccably together.

Hannah: We don’t really argue much…

Martha: MUCH?

Hannah: We don’t argue at all really, we both have the same ideas or I’ll say something and Martha will say “what about this?” And then I’m like “that’s so much better!” 

Martha: And then vice versa, or I’ll message her and she’ll say “I was literally just thinking that” or you know, we just always kinda (they both mimic brain waves).

Willow: I think that’s how you can tell that you’ve got something really special, when you guys just bounce off each other and it just works. 

Martha: I do feel like starting a band is the best excuse to meet up with your mate(s) every week, we see each other 4 times a week and if we didn’t have this we probably wouldn’t see each other once a month, it’s the best excuse.

Hannah: Especially now, during this time. 

“When we started off just doing covers and we were asked ourselves ”how do we want it to sound?” and we used a lot of synthy organ sounds, I think that was the first stepping stone”

Hannah Berry – Pretty Preachers Club

Willow: Do you think you guys developed a sound while you were recording the EP or do you think you have room for exploration? 

Martha: I think we did discover we both really like synth! We both really like the kind of easy listening, pensive pop vibe, we like that. We also want to do a bit more experimenting with rock, we didn’t have the means before but now we’ve got two guys that are joining us for gigs and stuff so I feel like we can explore a lot more genres and stuff.

Hannah: It’s a lot more instruments, I think when we started off just doing covers and we were asked ourselves ”how do we want it to sound?” and we used a lot of synthy organ sounds, I think that was the first stepping stone and then when we started doing our own stuff that was already the basis of our sound. We’re excited to do other stuff because it’s given us loads of ideas. 

Pretty Preachers Club Cover of Sports Team’s ‘Long Hot Summer’

Willow: Who are your top bands of 2020?

MarthaHaim…

HannahHaim, The 1975, beebadoobe, she’s killing it .

MarthaDream Wife, I’ve really got in to them this year.. let me check my Spotify! 

Hannah: There’s a band called joan that I pure love, they released an EP at the start of the year thats lovely. Then they released again but a seasonal version where they’ve re-done each song on the EP and put spring, autumn, winter and they’ve changed [all the songs] and it’s so cool.

Martha: I like Mother Mother and Katy J Pearson, she’s great she sounds like Stevie Nicks and Kate Bush (she intertwines her fingers to mean meshed together).

Willow: How do you think your friendships with other musicians has effected your writing and as a band in general? 

Martha: I think they’ve actually impacted it a bit, I messaged Rob from Sports Team asking for a bit of song writing advice back in May and he gave me some really good advice and he was saying “Don’t write for other people, write what you want to and don’t doubt it, just do it. Don’t write because ‘oh you think so-and-so will think it sounds good’” and I’ve actually used that, I’ve thought about that a lot when it comes to writing.

Hannah: And there’s a lot of nice people that we’ve met, so many accounts that will follow us and they’ll message and they’ll be really nice and supportive.

Martha: yeah they message us saying “congrats! I heard you on the radio” it’s just such a cute community.

Willow: Do you think being a fan of current bands has impacted how you write? Because I know a lot of bands say, “No, I don’t listen to new music, I only listen to old music!” what’s your take on that? 

Hannah: I massively love new music; I’m all over it. I think 90s and 80s has really influenced us subtly, but I really love current music.

Martha: I really think our music has been influenced by those genres, so beebadoobee and The 1975 have been writing so many throwback tunes that are very 80s and 90s inspired. I’ve been inspired by them rather than actually those times.

Willow: And their take on it?

Martha: Exactly! It’s a weird evolution going around.

Willow: Do you think all of the iconic eras have been done? For instance 70s, 80s, 90s, noughties even, and now people are taking all of them together, what do you think about that?

Martha: I think there’s a lot of hybrid stuff going on, bands don’t feel limited to one genre. I feel more and more people are experimenting trying loads of different things, look at Dream Wife! They’ve got some really nice slow, kind of folk songs and then they’ve got some fucking banging rock songs! Everyone can do a mix of everything , there’s no limits or labels for people nowadays which is really good I think. People say, “I wish I lived in the 80s, I was born in the wrong decade” you can still live like you’re in the 80s! You can still listen to cassettes if you want but it’s even better now because you have the choice to do anything! 

Hannah: You’ve got more means now, all the equipment. You can literally do anything you want! 

Martha: You can do baroque if you wanted to… Gregorian chants, that’s what in the album. 

Willow: What can we look forward to from Pretty Preachers Club?

Martha: We’ve got a few gigs lined up in the new year, we’re supporting some pretty cool people and we’ve started writing an album… here’s the thing; we’ve not written anything yet but we’ve got plans and ideas.

Hannah: We’re definitely playing live that’s the next step I think! 

Listen to ‘Going Nowhere Fast‘ Here:


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