Thirty-two years on from their debut album, Slowdive are tasting chart glory for the first time.
The shoegaze legends are currently on course for a Top 5 entry in the albums chart with Everything Is Alive, released on Secretly Group’s Dead Oceans label. The album has been comfortably in the Top 10 all week, with just a single day’s sales left to confirm their chart breakthrough. (Update: Everything Is Alive debuted at No.6 with sales of 5,828 including 4,535 physical copies, 655 downloads and 638 sales-equivalent streams).
Slowdive’s biggest chart result to date is No.16 for their previous self-titled album, so this would be a landmark Top 10 achievement for the independent act more than three decades into their career.
Originally signed to the Creation label, Slowdive charted at No.32 with debut LP Just For A Day in September 1991. After a couple more records, the group split in the mid-’90s but reformed in 2014.
In 2017, Slowdive returned with their self-titled album, their first on the Dead Oceans label. It has proved to be one of the label’s big successes with 29,551 sales to date (Official Charts Company).
Slowdive are doing particularly well with the physical release of Everything Is Alive, with all physical editions and bundles sold out on their official site. The band also have a streaming audience with 2.4 million monthly listeners on Spotify.
Everything Is Alive brings in more electronic textures but is also true to their shoegaze origins. Here, Phil Waldorf, co-owner of Secretly Group and founder of Dead Oceans, and Ali Murphy, Secretly Group international marketing director, open up about the Slowdive campaign and their relationship with the influential band...
How does it feel to be in the running for the Top 10 for the first time more than three decades after Slowdive's debut?
Phil Waldorf: “Slowdive put so much into the music, from the long recording process, to their energy spent on promotion and touring, and seeing the impressive chart position feels incredibly well deserved.”
Ali Murphy: “Agreed, slowdive have established themselves as one of the most important bands of recent times, they’ve gained tons of new fans and are a constant reference for other bands. They deserve every inch of their belated success!”
The self-titled 2017 album is one of the biggest releases on Dead Oceans in the UK – how did that record re-establish the band as a creative force?
PW: “They made an incredible album, one that held up to an already timeless body of work. The band did it for all the right reasons – it sprung from how much they enjoyed their return to touring, and I think the strength of the album allowed fans to really appreciate the effort the band was putting into their return. It wasn’t a reunion tour cash-in, they were pushing themselves creatively, and the effect of that was a commercially successful album.”
Who is Slowdive's audience in 2023, is it multi-generational? Is there an enduring appeal for shoegaze with Slowdive seen as leaders of that genre?
AM: “It certainly is multi-generational, there is a huge portion of their fanbase that wasn’t around for those initial albums. But what’s also interesting about them is that their appeal sits across genres, languages and borders. What I think resonates most is the emotion behind this music – this album is both cathartic and hopeful, it has so many layers to it… it’s the soundtrack to poignant moments in younger fans’ coming-of-age moments, but it’s also one for the production nerds and the vinyl collectors.”
The album has had strong reviews, how has that helped the campaign during the opening week?
AM: “Our PR manager, Matthew Fogg, has done a stellar job curating this press campaign and the band have also worked tirelessly throughout the process. In a way, it’s almost been like a sophomore album for them, as it’s the second album since their ‘comeback’ – no small feat. Across the board, it’s just been so encouraging to see near-unanimous praise for a band that never really had it the first time around. One of the main things that seems to be driving the momentum forward is that a lot of reviews are calling it their strongest album yet, which after a couple of decades and on album number five, shows the band’s boldness and fresh approach to their sound.”
How are the band developing creatively with this record, which features electronic elements alongside their signature sound?
PW: “As a fan, I love that they’re adding to the palette of sounds you can expect from Slowdive. It’s not surprising – across five albums, each has its own creative direction. Part of what makes them successful is they are continuing to push themselves, and finding new ways to express the Slowdive sound, while still making music for people who fell in love with them on Just For A Day. We don’t meddle much in the creative process with Slowdive – we’re there as a resource for the band when they need it, but we have the utmost trust and faith in their vision, and could not be happier to help them actualise it.”
The album is performing strongly on physical formats – how has the campaign rolled out in terms of different editions and indie retail partners and other stores?
AM: “UK retail has shown an incredible amount of support here – there are tons of fans working behind the counters and it’s been so wonderful to connect with them about this beautiful record. The band go into their own local stores regularly and are very in touch with new music so it was important to support retail for them. We made sure there was a special colour edition available at UK indie retail, there are limited edition covers across formats and we did a CD exclusive with HMV plus a few more special editions for some lucky fans.”
The band have 2.4m monthly listeners on Spotify – how has streaming helped them reach a global audience since reforming? What are the US ambitions?
PW: “I love that Slowdive are a band who have an engaged audience on DSPs, while also maintaining a fervent physical fanbase. I think it speaks to the fact that their audience both cares deeply about owning the albums, and wants to spend the time actually listening to them. Streaming certainly helps the band reach audiences worldwide, and through the strength of this listenership, the band can tour not just the places where the vinyl is easily accessible.
“The ambitions in the US are much like the rest of the world – reach the existing audience and bring new fans into the fold. The band has extensive touring on the horizon in both 2023 and 2024, across the US, UK, Europe and beyond.”
What kind of streaming partnerships are in place for this record? How is their music getting picked up by mood-based playlists?
PW: “We have seen robust editorial support across DSPs, stretching well beyond playlists curated by UK-based editorial. One of my favourite things to see is Slowdive being frequently programmed alongside artists whose careers are just beginning – it speaks to both the influence Slowdive have on contemporary music, and the timeless quality of the new album. The songs are starting to populate mood-based playlists, but what I’m more excited by is the engagement and leaned-in audience.”
Have you seen sync success with Slowdive, is there any activity on that front?
PW: “Not yet, but it’s very early days. Sync often moves at a different tempo than the other successful inflection points of a campaign. We know there’s a music supervisor community that loves Slowdive, and I’m sure many appropriate syncs will come in over the next year or two.”
The band have sold-out US and UK dates, how strong is the band's live business? Do you plan for the campaign to run into 2024?
AM: “The band’s initial batch of live dates sold out super quickly, they’ve just announced a run of European dates for 2024, which are moving at quite a pace, with some selling out in minutes. As Phil said, one of the main reasons the band started up again was coming together to play live, so there’s a really solid live fanbase there and the band are a firm favourite at festivals worldwide. They just got back from Fuji Rock in Japan and a bunch of Australian sold-out shows.
“The campaign will definitely run into 2024 – we’ve already got a few things in the works for the rest of 2023 and into 2024, which we’re excited to share with fans when the time is right!”