“It’s been a long old journey to get to where we are now, and a pretty strange one, too. I literally jumped in at the deep end.”
Rupert Blackman, lead singer of CAUSES, moved from the UK to Holland for love. Settling in Utrecht, Rupert was soon a regular on the streets of his adopted city, busking, attracting attention, and selling home-recorded CDs.
During this period, Rupert’s songwriting was going through a process of what he calls “stripping everything back.” He put up a card in a local shop, hoping to attract some like-minded musicians – and soon teamed up with guitarist Jan Schroder, with whom Rupert would go on to form Causes. The pair started writing together, and quickly recruited Simon Boeing-Messing and Robert Pronk on drums and bass guitar respectively. They soon began busking as a group, where they were spotted by Anouk and invited to support her on tour.
‘Teach Me How to Dance With You’, their debut single, was a huge hit, as was its follow-up ‘Walk On Water’ - and both epitomise Causes’ credo about songwriting and dynamics. “Strong hooks, minimal production; melody is everything. You should build from the hook, not the other way round.”
Working with producer Ian Grimble (Daughter, Bears Den) was a game-changer. “We went to London and recorded four tracks with him, including ‘Teach Me How to Dance With You’, and came back buzzing,” says Jan. “The first thing we did when we got back was write Walk On Water, ditching everything else.” “We went over to London as one thing,” adds Rupert, “and came back as something else.”
Finalising their debut album, Causes also inked a deal with Sony Music in London and watched on as ‘Teach Me How to Dance With You’ gained an extraordinary momentum. “The phenomenal thing is the song hasn’t been pushed outside the Netherlands yet, but it’s taken flight anyway – it was top 3 on the viral chart in the US, and that’s just mind-blowing. The song took on a life of its own,” says Rupert.
“For me, the reason it’s resonated so much, with a real cross-section of people, is because it’s a song that can be heard in lots of different ways. That mix of warmth and austerity, that slight sense of reserve, of holding something back.”
“I think it’s slightly a reflection of our characters, too,” suggests Jan. Rupert looks mock-outraged. "Well, I’m extremely agitated and an over-thinker, and Jan is incredibly relaxed.” And the rest is lost to laughter.