They Live is the collaborative production team of Consequence and Joe Seven. With the release of their debut album "Cancel Standard" They Live are sitting firmly at in the foreground of current electronic consciousness. We caught up with the guys to talk about the project, musical isolation and life inside the Exit Records camp.
"Cancel Standard" is your debut album as "They Live", and on listening it almost plays like a film, many unique stories collated into one fluid and coherent motion. When approaching the project, what were the considerations for creating a body of work which needs to work as individual tracks as well as a complete piece when combined?
Thanks - we are both big fans of film and film so i suppose an element of that must come through when we write music. We saw the album as something to be listened to from start to finish from the beginning and we all decided it would be pressed on a single 12" vinyl early on. I know that we both wanted the album to be more of a soundtrack than a club record. It was more so done as a representation of a time in our lives, and in a way I guess that makes it have a certain feeling of wholeness. We spent a lot of time doing long sessions recording ambient noise, i think this put us in a cinematic mind frame. At one point the album could have easily turned into one long soundscape.
For Consequence this is your second album project for dBridge's Exit imprint. How has the experience of the first influenced the process of creating "Cancel Standard"? For both of you, is there a compromise or meeting in the middle stylistically? What were the predominant themes and recurring principles when writing the album?
C: I started working on Cancel Standard with Joe not long after Live for Never came out. Im not sure if the process of my first LP could compare in anyway to that of Cancel Standard. We were in a completely different environment and mind frame. I have been experimenting a lot and learning new things through the whole thing.
We never really have any compromises, apart from the obvious occasional little things.
J:There were times when one of us wouldn't be into a certain sound or whatever but so far i don't think we have had to seriously compromise any ideas either of us have had. I don't think we would have decided to work together if either of us thought that was going to be the case. There hasnt been any fist fights yet but its early days! As far as themes go i think we'd prefer to let people make they're own minds up about that. Thats up to the listener. The only principles we followed were to always try and use something new for each track. Cam had a nice collection of synths already and by about half way through writing we had built up a good joint collection of different hardware bits, drum machines, synths and effects. Most of the album was recorded using all those bits of hardware and instruments, we tried to approach the whole thing as a band would.
You are both based in Australia, has your location away from the various world hubs of electronic music allowed you a certain disconnection? How does location and your regional music community effect your output? We hear that you will be heading to Europe for around April time? What can we expect?
Neither of us are from Australia. Im from Manchester in the UK and Cam is from Canada but grew up in NZ. We have both lived in Australia for a while though so we have been isolated from Europe at least for a good few years. I don't think that had been a problem to be honest. Isolation has its pro's and cons. We wrote Cancel Standard in almost complete isolation from anywhere - about 100 m from the 90 mile beach in eastern Victoria. We had no internet, no mobile reception, no TV, and no community to speak of for a year. it was great! it definitely effected the way we worked and ultimately it helped shape the way the album sounds. The cons of being so removed from clubs, gigs, your label and people you are working with are obvious really, but manageable. Yes we will both be in London for the launch of the album at The Nest in early april, Cam will be based there from then on and i'll be back and based there a couple of months later. Expect us to moan about the weather.
C: Disconnection is great whenever possible, theres definately a lot of distractions when theres technology and people surrounding you but im looking forward to heading over to the UK and making more music.
You are fully integrated with the Exit/Autonomic camp. What are your experiences working with dBridge and what creative restraints or freedoms were you permitted in the brief for "Cancel Standard"?
C: We are fortunate that Exit allows us the freedom to do what we want with the music. Theres no rules or restraints. I have never heard any kind of brief from anyone regarding what they would expect, which is great. Thats definately one of the Autonomic ideologies in my eyes, freedom.
J: Working with dBridge and the Exit / Autonomic family has been an honour and a pleasure for me. I had a near religious experience down at Music Box when Future Forces played in the late 90's so its safe to say i've been a fan of dBridge's music for a long time. The Autonomic podcasts have had a huge positive effect on our little bit of electronic music in my opinion, they have been the kick up the arse that we all needed and for an old grumpy bastard like me its nice to see some people saying " remember this shit? ". I remember some but I've discovered so much more through those podcasts that i might never had heard. Those guys are very open minded when it comes to music and we had that same open mindedness when we were writing the album. There was no brief, no restraints and complete freedom.
Less and less in modern electronic music is tempo or bpm the defining factor when deciphering where a piece fits into the spectrum. You have crossed several speed ranges within "Cancel Standard". What considerations do you give with regards to the speed of the music you create?
J: Yeah, it wasn't that long ago that drum and bass people would frown on a techno tune, when garage was too fast, dubstep too slow, blah blah blah. I know because i had my own close mindedness for a long time. Now, i couldn't bare the thought of only listening one tempo or style of music. It would bore me to tears. I think people have dropped the tempo labels and come up with some more genre labels to play with. Whats the one i heard the other day? witch-house?…I don't know. We didn't think about the tempos that much when we wrote the album, again, a lot of the time we just jammed some stuff and worked a tempo around what we had already recorded. As we got further along we thought more about whether it needed a more uptempo tune to balance it out or whatever.
C: Sometimes tempos can be important to us. It depends on what mood we are in really. A driving techno kind of thing sometimes needs to have that constant BPM, but some things can get away with almost having no tempo at all. To be perfectly honest, We don't really care what speed the music is we make.
They Live - Cancel Standard
1. Cancel Standard
4. Mr Spalding's Neighborhood
5. Letters Down
7. The Ridgeway
10. Nuevo 37
11. The Alive
They Live - Cancel Standard is available on general release on Exit Recordings 28th March.