Chic-pop darlings pair Julia-Sophie and Ben Walker have been a formidable musical item since the days of rock band Little Fish.

These days the couple are still wedded to great tunes, all be it of a more sophisticated nature, as part of long running electronic act Candy Says.

An Oxford institution, they have brought their delicious combination of retro keys, dancey beats, gutsy guitar and engaging vocals to gigs and festivals – and do the same at this Saturday’s musical all-dayer, Ritual Union.

The show follows a recent burst of exposure when their music was used on Netflix film, Close. The band recorded a song of their own, called Beautiful Feeling, and an electro cover of Kate Bush’s anthemic Running Up That Hill for the movie, directed by Oxford’s Vicky Jewson and starring Noomi Rapace from Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Candy Says – now augmented with drummer Silke Blansjaar from the band Self Help – have enjoyed moving in a rockier, upbeat, direction, recapturing some of their early energy.

Read more: 45 bands descend on Cowley Road for Ritual Union... here's where to find them...

So what can we look forward to on Saturday? “We’re playing quite an upbeat set,” says Julia. “It will be a mix of songs from our latest EP and some of the newer tunes. Our music is sort of intense synth pop with a splash of indie rock guitar and some sad singing robots.”


She goes on: “We’re about to record some new songs that we’ve been playing at gigs over the summer. They have a whole new sound that we’re excited to capture on tape. We have new drummer Silke too, so we’re experimenting with recording more of the live band sound instead of the fully electronic beats we’ve been using for a while.

“If all goes well, this will be the start of an album.”

What other acts on the festival line-up would she recommend checking out?

“Max Blansjaar is always great,” she says. “And we’re not just saying that because our drummer Silke plays bass with him! Premium Leisure are top notch too, Bo Ningen make a pretty awesome noise, and we’re looking forward to seeing Self Esteem for the first time. And we love Teleman, but everyone already knows they’re great, right?”


And she had good things to say about the festival, adding: “We’ve been to them all. In 2017 we saw Premium Leisure play the after party at The Bullingdon and loved it so much that we released their first EP on our cassette label Beanie Tapes. The Oxford music scene has its ups and downs but it has always been vibrant, supportive and fun. These last few years there has been a great feeling of community between a lot of the bands and so many good gigs it’s hard to get to them all!”

Read more: Supergrass reform while 'still on the buzz'

And who is her favourite Oxford band? “Tough choice!” she laughs. “Fixers were a great band, and we’re still big Jack Goldstein fans. Gaz Coombes is making amazing music. I guess when so many great bands have come from Oxford, we’re kind of spoiled for choice."

* Candy Says play the O2 Academy Oxford at 12.45 on Saturday as part of Ritual Union.