I spoke to Adam Cleaver (DYVR) and Stephen Bishop (St. Bishop) as we entered week 12 of lockdown on what feels now like my second home: Zoom. Their collaborative track, ‘Ocean’, speaks to a culture synonymous with a subset of the queer community, where we project our ideals onto each other.
I think we’ve sort of built up this, this friendship around it, you know, it’s just sort of like really informed how we how we’re doing things, which I think is really beautiful and really lovely.
Cleaver, who is based in Belfast but living in London at the moment, said ‘Ocean’ was really elevated with the addition of Bishop’s vocals and that a collaboration had been on the cards for some time.
DYVR: “We were introduced to each other by way of the same person saying to us, I think you guys would collaborate really, really well together. When we first met, I wasn’t quite living in Ireland, just at that point, I supported Ste for his single launch at the end of last year in Dublin, and yeah, we got chatting after that.
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The pictures we took for my new single Ocean are extra special to me – These photos were taken by my beautifully talented little sister @anisacleaver . This is a real proud big brother moment because as you can see, these pictures are f***in amazing! I should also note that the whole thing was made possible by my big brother @theendres because he loaned us his fancy house to shoot in – thank you Aaron!! It was my first time working with Anisa and I couldn’t be more proud of the work we’ve made. So much so in fact that I’ve convinced my sister to have a chat with me on Instagram Live early next week to talk about this shoot, her process when taking photos and creativity in general. I’ll let you know the date and time over the weekend, but for now enjoy the pics! Massive thanks to @benjaminyellowitz also, who was on the team and added so much creativity to this. Much love, D xx
“There was this idea about us like getting in a room to, to write something together, and then obviously COVID took place, and I had this track that was pretty much ready. It needed a few things here and there, and we got chatting. I was like, ‘you know, I really feel like I want another voice on this’. I was talking to my producer and he was like, ‘seems like the perfect time, to be honest, to get Ste to weigh in and do something on the track’.
“I’m so, so pleased that we did ask, because like, it’s really elevated everything about the song, you know, really breathe some new life into it.
“I think we’ve sort of built up this, this friendship around it, you know, it’s just sort of like really informed how we’re doing things, which I think is really beautiful and really lovely.”
St. Bishop: “It just happened really naturally. It was just a case of Matt being like, ‘hey would you be up for this?’ Then things just started moving and as soon as I heard the song, because there’s a lot of similarities, I guess between Adam’s projects and my own. I think definitely, mine is a lot more pop, but with the whole alt-electro vibe I could really sink my teeth into it straightaway.
“As soon as I started listening to it I was already coming up with backing vocal ideas for it, and I was just like, ‘okay cool, let’s do this’. For me it was nice to focus on something wasn’t my own but still felt like I was a part of. It was sort of the pressure of being my own song or my own release didn’t feel as heavy then so it was actually just more enjoyable to just delve into the creative side of it. So thanks for allowing me to do that, Adam.”
as I was writing this, I was realising that all of these ideas that I had about who they were, they were kind of, you know, plucked out of the ether somewhere along the line
Cleaver says it wasn’t until he began writing ‘Ocean’, that he realised that he was infatuated and projecting ideals about the person the song is about. He says the song helped him in processing this realisation.
DYVR: “I was writing it about a person that I felt infatuated with at the time and as I was writing this, I was realising that all of these ideas that I had about who they were, they were kind of, you know, plucked out of the ether somewhere along the line and perhaps just things that I wanted them to be and were hoping they were going to be, but I was kind of trying to make that into some sort of reality.
“So, through the course of writing it, it became clear that’s what I was doing. So the whole meaning sort of shifted on its head. It’s quite a difficult realisation, the one where you find out that you’ve been bullshitting yourself and that actually, you don’t really know much about this person at all, then that’s your fault it’s not their fault you just haven’t tried.
“I just see this so often in the community, you know, like, it’s so rampant sometimes where we’re so wanting to lead an existence that’s considered acceptable in the eyes of society and all of these things. So we all yearn after these things that perhaps our parents had or, and so we often do create these environments where we’re allowing ourselves to believe things about people that we’re inventing because we’re just desperately wanting something that’s steady and understandable. So in that effort, we do concoct stories, we do make things up and then we do get disappointed when it turns out they aren’t realities.
“For me, like the meaning just really, really shifted and actually, it was quite difficult to finish after that as well. But once it was done, I was like, ‘Yeah, I think I think I’ve learned something from that experience’. No doubt there are plenty of people that have been in similar situations. I’d say like the most crucial point is, songs have a habit of changing in meaning, but I’ve never had it where it’s changed halfway through writing it.”
Being in the music industry, particularly as queer artists, they tell me how they are commonly misconstrued to fit an archetype.
we often do create these environments where we’re allowing ourselves to believe things about people that we’re inventing because we’re just desperately just wanting something that’s steady and understandable.
DYVR: “I would say actually like there’s a common misconception about me when people meet me, which is that I’m quite a relaxed human being. It’s been said to me on a number of occasions that people genuinely believe nothing could ever bother me.
“So people don’t really mind the things that they say or the things that they do because they’re like, ‘oh, Adam’s, fine, he’s always fine. Nothing would bother him’.
“It’s usually quite a shock when people that have known me for a little while or see me get anxious or stressed or bothered about something that someone said or done because that’s, for them, out of character and I’m like, ‘no, things bother me all the time’.”
St. Bishop: “Even like my close friends are like ‘oh you’re always so confident and you’re also out there’ and it’s like I think I’m just the absolute opposite and I think that’s the same for like a lot of people.
I guess for myself I’m quite introverted when I don’t feel like comfortable, even regards to the community. I never really go to gay bars so I always feel on the edge of the community a little bit.
“Most people come across on social media or in places where they feel comfortable, as these big characters but they are just fully comfortable in that setting.
“I guess for myself I’m quite introverted when I don’t feel that comfortable, even with regards to the community. At times I feel obviously connected to the community because I am gay and I’m within that space.
“At the same time, I kind of feel like I’m on the outside of it because I don’t have many gay friends, pre lockdown I didn’t go out to clubs that often and I never really go to gay bars so I always feel on the edge of the community a little bit.
“But I know at the same time that that’s as much my fault for not trying harder to, like penetrate it, sorry for saying penetrate, wrong word. (Laughs)
DYVR: “I think that’s the right word.” (Laughs)
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