Listening to the album feels like all the good things in music – melody and instrumentation. How do you feel about song writing today and how it fits in with Dance music?
Although I’m personally a big fan of the ‘song’ in its traditional format I don’t think we’ve ever applied a certain set of rules to our writing and I think that’s true more than ever with the new album. I think you have to be careful with dance music because a lot of the good stuff can come from just a simple groove and we’re firm believers that if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. That’s why on this album we’ve used vocals a lot as a textural element in addition to the usual verse/chorus gubbins.
The Unbearable Likeness Of Being is a beautiful song – tell me how it was written?
That song is one that appears very much as it was originally written and recorded. We had the moody string running and just started jamming over it, Danni writing the vocal as we went. It came together pretty quickly. I ended up doing the moog bass and rhodes as one live take whilst Toddy was getting the beat production together. It was the same thing with the vocal, one take on a hand held standard microphone. We tried re-recording the vocal on a better quality mic and adding other elements to the production but whatever we added we always seemed to go back to the original recording as it had a special quality and vibe that couldn’t be bettered. That’s what we went with in the end.
What is your favourite instrument/ piece of studio equipment?
Tough one that! It does change but whilst recording the album I acquired an original Godwin string synth. It fast became a fave. We’d always had to try and re-create that classic Solina string sound (a great example of this is Herbie Hancock – Stars in your eyes) through plug-ins or new synthesis and on hearing the Godwin it became clear nothing can get close to the real thing, it has a character all of its own.
Vinyl or Digital? And why?
Nothing sounds like vinyl so that would always be my first choice. I play off CD’s now when I’m on the road but it’s mostly stuff i’ve ripped from my vinyl collection. CD’s is as digital as i’ll go, i’m not really feeling the tractor/controller thing. I can see its appeal but it’s not for me, I need a hands on format. We’ve been hammered on excess baggage many times when we used to carry records, particularly when you’re travelling with all the band equipment too and i’ve had my tunes not turn up for a gig or two as well. With cd’s in your hand-luggage it removes that heart-ache and cost.
How do you approach Dj’ing, what makes a good DJ?
I think I’m pretty old school on this one! I got my first real gig in the early nineties when I was a student, warming up in the main room of a house club in Northampton. Don’t look for it, it’s not there anymore 😉 the guy who owned the local record shop gave me the gig on the strength of what I used to buy from his shop and he was a great teacher. I learnt programming and knowing your records are the most important things. In the warm up i’d play long mixes, move it around of course but always bring it back in time for the guest to start. I noticed the guests would generally play shorter mixes and keep things moving a lot quicker so when I started doing guest slots myself that’s how I tended to play it. I know it’s just my way but I think the art of dj’ing has been lost somewhere along the way in favour of who can play the biggest and most dynamic tune. Either that or I’m just turning into an old git!