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PREP can’t live without music

Nine years ago, Tom Havelock, Llywelyn ap Myrddin, Guillaume Jambel, and Dan Radclyffe came together to form PREP. With early hits such as “Cheapest Flight” and “Who’s Got You Singing Again,” the quartet delivered a refreshing vintage sound with influences from contemporary R&B and electronica.

With a unique sound others have dubbed “yacht rock” or “marina pop”—whatever it may be—their music fit for long drives and watching sunsets can be attributed to the band’s diverse yet holistic background. Vocalist and lyricist Havelock is a seasoned songwriter with numerous credits throughout the industry, keyboardist Myrddin has a classical music education in composition and piano, drummer Jambel is also a house producer and DJ, and Radclyffe both produces and plays the guitar.

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The band recently kicked off their Asia tour following a string of releases such as “Getaway (feat. Phum Viphurit)” and “Call It (feat. Eddie Chacon)”—ahead of their incoming album. Here, we managed to chat with PREP ahead of their performance at The Filinvest Tent in Alabang about their ongoing tour, what they’d be doing if they weren’t in music, their upcoming album, and their journey so far as a group.

Welcome to the Philippines once again. I believe this Manila performance is the fourth in your Asia tour. How’s it been so far?

Tom Havelock (TH): It’s been really fun. It’s so good to be back in rooms with fans. We’re really excited to play music that we haven’t played to anyone else before. And you know, there’s always a certain amount of tension in anticipation of that. And it’s so exciting to play the songs that we’ve had kept under wraps for over a year, and finally get them out and let people hear them. And the reaction so far has been really great. 

Your next show is on May 9. Is there anything you’re looking to do before heading out to Jakarta? 

Llywelyn ap Myrddin (LM): It’s so quick, that’s the problem. We arrived last night quite late, and then we’d have to leave at around 5 a.m.

Guillaume Jambel (GJ): It looks unlikely that we’ll be doing much, unfortunately.

TH: But it’s crazy, I remember seeing photos of other bands having days off in the Philippines, like what they’ve done with them, going out to these beaches that just looked like a dream. We’ve never had the time to do that. It’s always been a bit too much of a rush. 


Just to get to know you guys a bit more. What would you guys be doing if you didn’t pursue music?

TH: I mean, unemployed. Still involved in a lot of music, I’m sure, even if it wasn’t exactly like what we’re doing professionally. 

GJ: Working in music. Maybe a manager or an agent, something like that. I can’t imagine not being involved in music to be honest.

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With such passion for music, when did you guys know you wanted to pursue it?

TH: I had the kind of yearning for it maybe when I was about 15 or 16. But then, you know, with schoolwork and all that as well as the sense that my life was going in a different direction, it didn’t really feel like it was heading for music until I got to about maybe 17 or 18. 

By then, I realized that if I wanted to do this, I could just decide that it was what I was gonna do. I think there was a really important switch in my head about that age, which allowed me to feel like it was a realistic thing to pursue. It wasn’t just a dream. 


Photo by Em Cole

LM: I had a very particular teacher who I met when I was 15. He was from the countryside—this guy, you don’t really meet a lot of people like this, but he was a professional musician. He was really involved in the music scene in the UK, especially in the ’70s. I remember going to him for piano lessons and he had these gold discs on the wall and there was also a picture of him with Paul McCartney. 

Seeing that made me realize that it was a realistic thing that we could actually do. It’s not just something that you see on a TV show. It was the moment that got me thinking I could make this happen if I worked hard enough.

GJ:  From the age of eight, I knew I wanted to somehow do music. My first obsession was Michael Jackson. Then, I wanted to be a radio DJ when I was 11 years old, and I eventually started playing the drums later on. To become a musician, I would say 14 years old, but to be involved somehow in music, from a much earlier age.

Nine years as PREP, what does it mean for you guys to have stayed together this long?

TH: That’s quite a thing to look back on. It’s hard to make sense of it—a number like that, and what it really means, particularly when we had this strange interruption of a couple of years when we couldn’t tour.

It really doesn’t feel like nine years. That sounds like the kind of point bands get to where they can’t speak to each other anymore—where they just want to either kill each other or give up. I feel like we’re still beginning. We’re still working things out and discovering new things about the ways that we can work together.


Photo by Meg Myer

Tell me about your newest track, “Call It” featuring Eddie Chacon. What’s the story behind it? 

GJ: We traveled to L.A. last year to collaborate with other musicians. We spent an incredible day in Stones Throw Records—we met him (Eddie Chacon) in the morning, had lunch, and then went to the studio. The song pretty much wrote itself. He (Chacon) had an idea which he suggested on our way to the studio. He started saying it and me and Llywelyn just instantly started programming the beat together and it seemed to happen. We were using the right key and everyone was at ease—then you guys came up with most of the words (pointing to Havelock and Radclyffe).

Also, all the equipment worked. When you go to different studios, there’s always a possibility some stuff may not work, and that may delay your process and introduce stress but everything worked out fine.

This is the latest in a string of recent releases. You haven’t released an EP or an album in a while. Are we expecting one soon?

TH: Yes, it’s coming. We started off thinking it was an EP. We were in the studio in Paris working on what we thought was like four tracks and it just worked. 

GJ:  It was also a completely different way of working because usually when we make music, we do everything ourselves at every stage—the recording, mixing all this stuff. And here, we were working with an external producer, someone that would make the final decisions, and we were certain things that were really different compared to how we usually work. Now, I don’t know how different this will be heard in the music. I’ve heard this record, we’ve worked on it so hard over the last year. I don’t know if I’m being objective anymore. But to me, it’s a different take on what we do. 


For Tom, having co-written several songs for different artists, is there one that you wish you kept for yourself?

TH: There’s a song called “Below The Waterline” that I wrote ‘round the same time that PREP was starting. At that point I was just writing for other people, that’s what I do. And that was one where I definitely thought at the time, maybe actually I should just find some way of putting this out myself because I really liked it. It ended up getting taken by a guy who’d gone solo from a massive UK boy band. He did it very well and it was very exciting to kind of hear him sing it.

For Dan, who do you look up to in music production?

Dan Radclyffe: I don’t know, I’ll say Morris White from Earth, Wind & Fire. I love the sound of all his productions but it could change tomorrow.


For Llywelyn, who is your favorite classical musician of all time?

LM: I mean you know, it’s one everyone knows, but I gotta go with Beethoven.

For Guillaume, your go-to track for when you’re spinning?

GJ: To this day, “Burnin’” by Daft Punk has appeared in every single DJ set I’ve played apart from the PREP DJ set. But under my DJ name, I think I have played the song so many times. “Burnin’” by Daft Punk just goes off.


This interview has been edited for length and clarity.


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