Dry Cleaning’s guitarist Tom Dowse, drummer Nick Buxton, and Lewis Maynard had been friends and musical collaborators for years; at first Dry Cleaning was simply their latest project, formed after a karaoke night and based out of the miniscule garage next to the house of Maynard’s mum. One day, however, after a mutual friend’s exhibition, Dowse played some snippets of what they’d been working on to Florence Shaw, a visual artist, picture researcher and drawing lecturer. A few days later, she came to his flat armed with a copy of Michael Bernard Loggins’ ‘Fears Of Your Life’ to read out over the music, and later still started contributing words of her own. Before long she was the group’s frontperson, her dryness, wit, and linguistic acrobatics acting as the perfect counter to the musicians’ taut instrumentals.
Eventually they produced two thrilling EPs, 2019’s Sweet Princess and Boundary Road Snacks and Drinks. Buoyed by the universal acclaim they received, the foursome spent more and more of their lives on tour, refining their craft even further. The intensive time they spent together meant they developed a near-psychic knowledge of how to leave the right amount of space for each other in their songs. On stage, the contrast between the stillness of Shaw and the emphatic energy of Dowse and Maynard became even more pronounced. They swapped influences from Black Sabbath to Augustus Pablo to Yuzo Koshiro as they travelled. “It all absorbed,” says Dowse. “Then when we got back to writing, we felt like we were drawing very organically from a collective palette.”