‘Watch Me Break Apart’ is the brilliant debut album from Dead Nature, the new musical project of former Spring King man Tarek Musa. It’s a shimmering indie-pop album brimming with fuzzed up melodies and a firm DIY ethos, produced in Tarek’s own Musa Studio in Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle. We caught up with him to discuss his formative years in Manchester, getting inspiration from his gig going crowdsurfing brothers, Brazilian Tropicalia, and how the debut album feels like an amalgamation of everything he’s learned so far…

You’re a producer, and have recorded loads of great bands such as remixes for Circa Waves and a production for The Big Moon, so why did you decide now was the right time to launch your own songwriting career again as Dead Nature?

I’ve always loved being involved in other peoples music. For me, I learn the most when I’m actively making music in various forms, whether it be with other people on their music or writing and producing my own. After my last band ended, I knew I wanted to continue composing and making my own music, it feels natural to me and plays a huge part in my happiness and life. 

You have a really brilliant open minded approach to sourcing sounds as you’ve recorded various sounds from various places, what’s the strangest sound you’ve recorded which has ended up on the album?

There’s this church in Liverpool, The Gustaf Adolf church which I once recorded drums in. Those drums sounded huge! I not only used them on the artists music who I was producing, but also continued to use small samples of them elsewhere throughout my career. Some of the snare drum recordings from that session have made their way onto plenty other recordings. 

How has living in Manchester and Liverpool shaped the songs you’ve written?

Growing up in Manchester, I always had a big city at my doorstep with incredible venues. I spent a huge part of my upbringing going to gigs with my brothers or friends. I’m the youngest of my brothers and when we were in our teens we’d go together, but always get lost, and at some point I’d look up and see one of them crowdsurfing or in the pit. It felt like a playground to me, the anticipation of shows and then the full gig, drenched in sweat, ears ringing. Manchester was awesome for that, we had all the touring bands pass through. Liverpool was a city I visited when I decided to study here. I studied Sound Technology and had a blast, playing drums in a few bands and enjoying the close proximity of all the venues the city has on offer. Both cities shaped my songwriting for sure. I never went down the classic routes, whether that be The Smiths or The Beatles, but for sure the surroundings had a huge impact on my spirit and musical creativity.

What or who inspired you to form a band, and made you think, this is what I want to do for a living?

I didn’t really write my own songs until I was 21, and at that point I was listening to a lot of huge indie bands like Arcade Fire and Florence and The Machine. At the time, my main drive was to write songs as big sounding as theirs, although that’s pretty difficult and I haven’t achieved that yet! It wasn’t until I finished studying my degree that I really took songwriting seriously, and by that time I was obsessed with Brian Wilson and his music. That’s what truly inspired me to give it a real go.

In the title track you state ‘we don’t really know who we are anymore’ sums up the past year’s events well, was that song written before the pandemic or during lockdown, and is it about trying to find your place in the world?

I wrote that track (Watch Me Break Apart) just before lockdown, it was November/December 2019. I felt like things were changing, and I didn’t know what it was. At the time politics was, and I guess always has been, in a huge mess. Climate change was never a bigger topic than it was at that point, and the friends I was speaking to felt the same as me. It felt like everything was falling apart, and the polarisation of political views, a consequence of the echo chambers we all occupy on social media, were having a big impact on my perception of the world. Lo and behold, months later, we were in a huge global pandemic. The song feels very fitting to the feelings of many people before, during and after 2020.

The beautiful anthemic ‘Red Clouds’ seems to be about celebrating and cherishing those happy times we share with friends, was that the essence of that song?

‘Red Clouds’ was about the moments we have with people we love, missing them, needing them and cherishing the time with them. You’ve hit the nail on the head.

How do you approach the art of songwriting, do you work away and keep refining songs or is it more a case of writing when inspiration strikes and capturing a moment?

I tend to only write a song when something comes to mind. Sometimes I pick up an instrument and try to get something out, but if it doesn’t naturally come to fruition then I don’t force it and I do something else. When I was younger, I’d try and sit there all day trying to get a song out of my head, sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t. I tent to let it come to me nowadays. It’s more of a pleasure and less of a chore.

When a song feels like it has naturally arrived, I very quickly record a demo on my mobile phone or laptop. From that moment, everything develops very quickly as my studio always has everything plugged in and ready to go, so I can jump from instrument to instrument fast enough to keep up any new found energy and inspiration the song has given me.

If you could go back in time and see any gig or play with any band/artist, who would that be and why?

I would love to have been in Brazil around the time Tropicalia was kicking off. To be able to see artists of that scene performing must have been incredible. Musically the sounds of Os Mutantes, Gal Costa, Jorge Ben Jor and Quarteto Em Cy have always been mesmerising to me.

What’s your favourite bit of kit you own and why?

I love my original RE-201 space echo. I’ve had that since I was a student. I got it on gumtree for about £300 which was such a good deal at the time. I had been working a job whilst a student, and getting that bit of kit changed the shape of my sounds to come!

It’s been a tough year for everyone, what has kept you going during the pandemic, and have you adopted any new hobbies or ways of working which you’ll keep?

Before the pandemic I was an avid Squash player. I’d play for two to three hours per night if I could. When lockdown first kicked in, my fitness diminished very quickly and naturally I became a bit deflated by everything happening. It took quite a few months to make myself move properly, and this only happened because a person I knew had started doing free online workouts for anyone who wanted to join. You were encouraged to donate any amount of money to charity in return for being a part of the class. Those classes have had a huge impact on my mental health, staying fit and mobile whilst interacting with people who were all in the same boat. I will continue to do those classes as much as possible, and it has opened a door to online fitness, something I thought I’d never enjoy.

Any other future plans for gigs, new releases, festivals?

For sure. The album came out July 23rd, but I’m already thinking about what’s next musically. I’m also looking forward to announcing some gigs in the not so distant future! Stay tuned.

Dead Nature: Watch Me Break Apart – out now (Blood Records)

Photo Credit: Khalil Musa


From the early days of creating handmade zines, in a DIY paper and glue style, interviewing bands around town, then pestering Piccadilly Records to sell them, to writing for various independent mags such as Chimp and Ablaze, writing about the music I love is still a great passion. After testing the music industry waters in London with stints at various labels, being back in my hometown again, writing about this city’s vibrant music scene is as exciting as ever. All time favourite bands include Sonic Youth, Nick Cave, Patti Smith although anything from electro to folk via blues and pysch rock will also do nicely too. A great album, is simply a great album, regardless of whatever musical cage you put it in.