For the final post of the day, it's down to me - whilst theexistentialist sits down with a nice cup of tea.
Avid readers will remember last month I was really lucky enough to feature a wonderful debut album from a cracking electronica act called Cantaloupe. The album is called Zoetrope and it was genuinely one of the best debuts I'd heard in a long time. You can read that feature: HERE
The chaps and chapesess agreed to be gently probed by my probing thing for an interview for these very pages and here, below, you'll find it. I hope you enjoy it and also hope you'll consider buying the album, cos it's stonking.
1.) I think your album is one of the best debuts I've heard in years. I don't get to feature nearly enough of this genre on the blog. Who are your electronic and also your non electronic influences in musical terms?
Simmo: Thank you! That''s really encouraging. That's a hard question to answer, because
it's hard to narrow it down! We all enjoy a broad range of musical styles. I think that there's something to enjoy in many songs, and something to learn from most of them. With ska punk being the only clear exception.I got in to electronic music in my teens, initially through fairly mainstream stuff like Leftfield and Orbital, which then opened the door to the stuff coming out on Warp and Rephlex. In my early twenties I forgot about electronic music a bit, and was listening to/playing a lot more post-punk or post-rock stuff. Post-rock opened the door to Krautrock, and bands like Cluster
and Harmonia rekindled my love of synths (*thegeneral chips in at this point to squeal with delight at Simmo mentioning Krautrock and the oft overlooked Harmonia). The record took about 18 months to write, during which I was listening to a lot of groove-based music - Talking Heads, Chic. early 80s NYC Boogie, afrobeat compilations, contemporary stuff like Luke Abbott and Wax Stag. The vocal stuff was probably more informed by Broadcast and Stereolab, who have been big favourites of mine for a long time (*cue a second squeal from thegeneral at a mention of Broadcast and Stereolab)
Eleanor: Having collaborated on 2 of the vocal tracks I would actually cite the same influences. I listen to a wide variety of genres, but I think the style of music I'm writing dictates what influences I draw on.
David: It can be difficult as an artist to pin down what sound you've ended up creating, especially when you are collaborating through email with everyone's ears pricking up to different sounds. I think you can hear how much we all enjoyed the William Onyeabor excavations in the last couple of years, as well as stuff like Cocteau Twins and early synthesiser scores for films - well apart from all the boring horror film reissues, anyway. From a guitar perspective, I was really inspired by the acquisition of a Jazzmaster and its unique tremelo system, as well as some useful techniques picked up from some time serving in Ex-Easter Island Head's Large Electric Ensemble in the last couple of years.
2.) There are sometimes criticisms levelled at electronica that it isn't "proper" music. I think that's a
bit of an insulting load of cock. What would you say to that?
Simmo: I think that would be a pretty extraordinary thing to be saying in 2015. I'm utterly uninterested in ideas of authenticity in any art form - they're only ever wheeled out by the people whose status is somehow threatened by new forms of expression. Fortunately it's not something you hear levelled at electronic music much these days, given that it's been an integral part
of popular music for 40 years!
Eleanor: Who's saying these things? And what kind of electronica are they listening to?
Dave: People with no imagination. There's no such thing as improper music.
3.) Moog, Korg, Roland, Bontempi? (Or all four?)
Simmo: I'll have one of each please! I'm not as synth-savvy as I could be/should be, actually. I'd love to start a collection of old analogue synths but I don't have the money and would probably be divorced within a year. And I've only really started getting my head around synthesis properly over the last couple of years. I've always been caught between technicality and immediacy when music-making, and the process of creating synthesized sounds often felt too laborious; the immediate excitement of an idea could be sucked dry by hours of fiddling with knobs, trying to perfect a sound. But on the other hand, I felt like my songwriting was constrained by too limited a "sonic palette" (can't think of a less wanky phrase). Eventually I worked out that I just needed to bite the bullet and spend a year or two learning and applying the principles of synthesis, so I could speed up the technical process and not lose the immediacy. But it still requires discipline - the thing about writing with synths is that because you have the power to adjust almost any conceivable variable, it's hard not to succumb to the inevitably doomed temptation to perfect sound forever. Knowing when to stop is very difficult. Nearly all the sounds on the album come from a Nord, with a smattering of Alesis Micron and Novation Ultranova. The only analogue synth is a Roland Juno 60 that belongs to the studio.
Dave: Of course, if anyone wants to offer us a sponsorship deal we'll shamelessly answer this question with your brand of synth here (*thegeneral chips in to let the band know I can probably arrange a sponsorship with a 1980s CasioTone if they're interested...no...thought not...)
4.) Can you tell my readers (Hi again Mum!) if you've got any gigs
coming up or any plans for them?
Simmo: Yep, we've got a bunch of dates coming up. We're sort-of-on-tour in April, May and June,
doing long weekends or a few consecutive weekday shows wherever we can.
Dave: We all work full-time and live in separate cities, so we have to carefully plan our shows. We have some exciting plans for later in the year, but here are the details of our gigs in the first half of 2015:
14.04.15 | Head of Steam, Newcastle | w/ Monster Killed By Laser & Sun Dance
15.04.15 | Kazimier Gardens, Liverpool | w/ Monster Killed By Laser & Gurgles
16.04.15 | Caroline Social Club, Saltaire | w/ Monster Killed By Laser & Gurgles
17.04.15 | The Eagle Inn, Salford | w/ Monster Killed By Laser, Barringtone & Hot Shorts
18.04.15 | Chameleon, Nottingham | w/ Galaxians & Blunt Mountains
08.05.15 | The Hairy Dog, Derby | w/ Cheap Jazz & more TBC
09.05.15 | MK Gallery, Milton Keynes | w/ Arabrot and John Doran, Chrononautz & Klaar
22.05.15 | The Corner House, Cambridge | w/ Model Village & Alnegator
23.05.15 | The Star of Kings, London | w/ Model Village & Alnegator
24.05.15 | The Wheatsheaf, Oxford | w/ Model Village & Alnegator
25.06.15 | Venue TBC, Nottingham | w/ Elk & The Skipping Forecast
26.06.15 | The Audacious Art Experiment, Sheffield | w/ Elk & The Skipping Forecast
27.06.15 | The Matrix, Grimsby | w/ Elk, The Skipping Forecast & East on Main
5.) What's next musically for you?
Simmo: I really have no idea.Geographical dispersion doesn't make it easy, and working full-time
doesn't leave as much time/energy for songwriting as I'd like. That said, I really enjoyed the process of collaborating remotely during the making of Zoetrope and it was a huge influence on the eventual sound of the album. Now that Eleanor has joined the band full-time, we'll be looking to make use of her beautiful voice a lot more. But short of doing some more vocal stuff, I really haven't got a clue where the next record will take us...
Eleanor: Why thanks very much. I'm definitely looking forward to working on some more vocal tracks, but also touring the album with these folk. I think once you play songs live you get a sense of how people respond to them, and that can influence what kind of music you want to write next.
Dave: Playing as a quartet has been really fun so far, so it's going to be a lot of fun stretching out and working out just how much we can achieve with two more hands and feet and a brilliant musical brain added to the mix.
THANK YOU to Cantaloupe (Simmo, Eleanor and Dave) for being such brilliant sports and agreeing to the interview. Here's to more great music from them very very soon.