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Sónar Festival Day 2, Koncerthuset, 14.03.2015

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Night two of Sónar is a very different experience from the first night. If the opening night was experimental music with a lot of physical breathing room for the audience, then night two is closer to a rave with wall-to-wall people wanting to dance. In some ways it’s more of a festival — longer queues for drinks and to get into rooms to the see different acts — but there’s also just the feel of it being a Saturday night, and of everyone abandoning themselves to whatever consequences will come Sunday morning.

 Words by Amanda Farah and Alex Maenchen.

October Dance — 19:30

The ‘80s were kind of cool, you guys. It’s a secret that everyone knows and it’s the basic ethos by which the fresh-faced youngsters from October Dance live and die. Stuck in the early 19:30 slot on the SonarDome stage Saturday night and fronted by Michael Cera’s mustache from Youth in Revolt, these guys have no right being as good as they are. The Danish trio, supported by rhythm keys and bongos, serve up big art pop straight out of the Peter Gabriel school of sledgehammer synths, with frequent, feverish detours into back alleys in search of manhole covers that gush out the most steam. After the fourth modulated keyboard solo in as many songs, however, a lyric by Echo and the Bunnymen comes to mind: “First I’m gonna make it/then I’m gonna break it/till it falls apart.” It’s dance. Dance. Dance. Dance. Alternately, you can put on a headband and watch a tennis ball machine spit balls at a wall for 40 minutes and you get the same effect. —AM

Kwamie Liv — 20:00

Kwamie Liv’s set is a lot like 5 a.m. The stage is washed in an opaque, bluish light and someone’s left it to the iTunes visualizer to run the show. It feels like the wrong time to show up, but there’s a sizable crowd. Liv is barely a silhouette in the fog, which suits her just fine. The soulful opener is almost heightened by it, which she sings solo. As she breaks into “Lost in the Girl,” the keyboardist and drummer make their presence known. It’s a big number, and the minimal setup really doesn’t do it justice. But Liv prefers to saunter through her songs. “All I want to do is just take you a little higher,” she sings on “Higher.” And she does, a little. And yes, Kwamie Liv has a song called “5 a.m.” but even George Michael knew not to take “Careless Whisper” so literally. —AM

Taragana Pyjarama — 20:25

There isn’t yet a name for the electronic equivalent of surf rock, but there’s plenty of the summery, breezy music to go around. Taragana Pyjarama is tapped into those sunshiny, sparkling feelings that make them kindred spirits of Brooklyn’s Blondes. The mood of the songs is heavily dictated by the drums, which either are really chill electronic beats or heart-pounding smashes, both of which give an unwitting shape to the more ambient songs. There are some live, super-vocoded vocals, and a handful of pre-recorded vocals that hint at some pop ambitions. Pop or ambient, they manage to bring a sense of spontaneity to a set with a lot of samples. —AF

Factory Floor by James Hjertholm
Factory Floor by James Hjertholm

Factory Floor — 21:30

We’re big fans of Factory Floor, but their Sónar set was not the best we’ve seen from them. Reduced to a duo without live drums, guitars or vocals, there was something definitely missing. Their hypnotic beats still attracted a huge crowd of furious dancers, far more than when we saw them at Lille Vega at the end of 2013, and there was plenty to love and recognize in their metallic beats. But while you can recreate drums and guitars from samples, there is no substitute for Nik Void’s distinctive, atonal voice. Give the girl back her microphone and it would make all the difference in the world. —AF

AV AV AV — 22:05

There’s a line out the door at the tightly packed SonarDome to see ELOQ, UNKWON, and DJ E.D.D.E.H bring some domestic, name-brand electronica for their first ever show together as AV AV AV. Their set highlights a slick mix of glossy melodic productions à la Purity Ring and stomping club beats. Amazingly, each contributing component retains its identity in the performance. The gorilla’s unmasked in DJ E.D.D.E.H., who gets the crowd going with a nice bit of run and rip showmanship, while ELOQ and UKNWON look to be cooking with as much focus and intent as Jesse Pinkman and Walter White. Some songs turn out to be little more than monochromatic shapes built to show the integrity of their design. Still, AV AV AV know how to please a crowd, and they’re not shy to let us have it, so it’s “All Good”.  —AM

Brynjolfur — 23:10

Copenhagen’s Brynjolfur stood center stage surrounded by synths and a laptop on three sides. His bright dance music has a very 80s, New Order feel to it, a vibe aided by the live drums and guitar. There were pleasant, predictable patterns throughout the set:  Slow descents into lulling valleys that freeze with seconds of surface tension and then erupt into massive banging beats. The ecstatic reaction that follows every time is just as pleasantly predictable. Brynjolfur maybe lacks some of the direct engagement of a pop star, but he’s still highly recommended if you ever wonder what “Blue Monday” would sound like if it was written today. —AF

PLAYLIST: Sónar Copenhagen

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Since its beginning in Barcelona in 1994 the electronic music festival Sónar has expanded to over 46 cities acros the globe. This weekend Sónar is coming to Copenhagen. We have made a little selection of artists that will be playing the festival.
With a slight focus on local artists, our playlist spans the electronic pop of Kwamie Liv to the techno-infused avant-garde industrial soundscapes of artists like Puce Mary and Vessel.

Sekuoia

Sekuoia, the moniker of Alexander Bech Madsen, produces atmospheric and dreamy electronica with dry beats and synths. Listen to Here Today’s session with Sekuoia from last year, as well as the one Sekuoia recorded together with Ice Cream Cathedral.

Vessel

In 2014 Vessel released their second studio album, Punish, Honey, described by Sonar as “one of 2014’s most stimulating and challenging”. Drowned In Sound wrote “It’s broodingly mechanic, and yet harrowingly human; it’s truly Bristolian, and neither futuristic nor nostalgic; it’s simply and unignorably now.”

Tri Angle, Vessel’s label, is also home to artists like Haxan Cloak and Forrest Swords.

Kwamie Liv

Kwamie Liv is on the rise. Big time. Simple as that.

Factory Floor

Factory Floor is a band that has to be seen live. With influences that range from Throbbing Gristle to Depeche Mode their sound combines dark and industrial tones with a rapturous rhythm section.

AV AV AV

AV AV AV was formed in late 2013 by three already established names on the danish electronc scene: UNKWON, ELOQ AND DJ E.D.D.E.H. They first track ‘All Good’ became a summer essantial and since then AV AV AV has progressed at a steady pace, with a big show at DR Koncerthuset and a spot on the poster for Roskilde Festival 2015.

Puce Mary

When Frederikke Hoffmeier goes on stage she is Puce Mary, an artist known for her experiental music, shifting from sound art over minimal synth to techno. Puce Mary is released on labels such as Posh Isolation, Freak Animal and Ideal Recordings.

Taragana Pyjarama

Taragana Pyjarama’s debut album was relased on the German label Kompakt, which is about as high as you can get when it comes to European electronic dance music and ambient pop. Before that – in 2011 – he had an EP out on French label Fool House. His sound has been compared to artists like Panda Bear. Taragana Pyjarama’s latest release, Nothing Hype, is published on Wyrd, his own label. Here Today did a session with him in 2013 which you can listen to below.

Sonar Copenhagen will take place on the 13. & 14. of March 2015

PLAYLIST: Here Today’s Concerts

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The month of March will not only be treating us with some exciting concerts, but also Sonar Festival (March 13-14). We have updated our “Here Today Concerts” playlist with a few selected artists that you might want to spend a night listening to. Among them are Dean Blunt, Jessica Pratt, Yung (tonight with Total Heels), Ex Hex and Wounded Kings.

Yung + Total Heels (Stengade, 04.03.2015)

As the music scene centered around Mayhem is becoming more widely known, you might be fooled into thinking that it is the only place to go underground in Denmark. That is not the case, though, as Aarhus has it’s own very lively scene. Yung is one of the most promising bands that have emerged from there in the last few years. Tonight (March 4. 2015) they will be playing Stengade along with another great band: Total Heels. Didn’t make it to any of Iceage’s sold out shows at Jazzhouse last week? Well don’t worry, good times are waiting at Stengade. [Link to event.]

Ex Hex (Loppen, 05.03.2015)

According to The Guardian’s 5 star review of Ex Hex’s 2014 album, Rips, the band “sit somewhere near the middle of a Go-gos/Ramones/Sleater-Kinney Venn diagram, and join latterday power-pop aces like Warm Soda, the Love Triangle and Sheer Mag in making some of the most endlessly repeat-listenable should-be-hits of recent years.”

What else is there to say, sounds fun, right? [Link to event.]

Dean Blunt (Jazzhouse, 20.03.2015)

Dean Blunt, who plays Jazzhouse on the 20th of March, is an interesting new breed of experimental lo-fi R&B, dub and electronica. Last year he released the album Black Metal to great critical acclaim.

Dean Blunt is also one half of Hype Williams. [Link to event.]

Jessica Pratt (Stengade, 28.03.2015)

San Fransisco born singer-songwriter Jessica Pratt has just released her second album, On Your Own Love Again. Forget laptop wall-of-sound productions, Jessica Pratt made her album on an analogue 4-track recorder with little more than a guitar and her voice. As Pitchfork writes, it worked out really well: “Its warm, home-recorded atmosphere is more dramatic and distinctive than Jessica Pratt [her debut album]: finger-picked psychedelia, lucidly layered harmonies, hissy tape effects, an overcast haze. But Pratt’s songwriting is more cohesive and concise, her whispered secrets more alluring”. [Link to event.]

Wounded Kings (Loppen, 18.03.2015)

Life can not always be expressed in freak-folk and “repeat-listenable should-be-hits”. Sometimes you need a bit of doom metal and this is where The Wounded Kings enter the scene. Their latest album Consolamentum has received great praise among reviewers. If you sometimes find yourself nodding along to Black Sabbath, Wounded Kings are worth considering. [Link to event]

Albums of the year 2013

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AutreNeVeutAnxiety_1024_1024_90

1. Autre Ne Veut – Anxiety

Arthur Ashin’s second album oozes emotional intensity throughout, with the album title perfectly summing up Ashin’s emotions while writing this album. Whether its about the anxiety of calling his grandmother for fear of her death (“Counting”), dealing with hitting his 30’s (“Gonna Die”) or going through a break-up (“World War”). Starting off with “Play By Play”/“Counting”/“Promises”/“Ego Free, Sex Free”, Anxiety has to be one of the strongest back-to-back hit filled albums released for a while. From start to finish this is an album to you can listen to whether its a Friday night ready to go out on the town or on a relaxing Sunday morning nursing a hangover as Ashin soothes you with his alt-R’n’B.

mbv

 2. My Bloody Valentinem b v

If you say you’ve been waiting 22 years for this record, you’re lying. Even the most faithful of My Bloody Valentine fans gave up hope of ever seeing another release from the band long ago. When this album was released in February with little ceremony and an ordering process that temporarily broke the internet, there should have been no shock that it wasn’t another Loveless. Instead we’ve been treated to unexpected guitar solos, unexpected guitar-free compositions, more of Bilinda Butcher’s beautiful voice, and a few genuine what-the-fuck-is-that-sound moments. If you say this album wasn’t worth a two-decade period of absence, you’re lying.

iceage (1)

3. IceageYou’re Nothing

Still pissed off, still drawing heavily on post-punk angularity and tinny black metal bleakness, Denmark’s finest return with a more diverse album than their debut. The fast tracks still explode with spit and bile (“Ecstasy”,“Coalition”), but interspersed are moments of slow, muddy thuds (“Morals”), and even the odd Hüsker Du-influenced riff (“In Haze”).  Iceage are lads of impeccable taste, whose energy elevates them out of the mire of influences that so often burdens hardcore bands. The “New Way of Danish Fuck You” might not be so new any more, but with any luck, it is far from over.

 

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Vampire Weekend

4. Vampire WeekendModern Vampires Of The City

With this album, Ezra Koenig and his gang have progressed from the afro-pop elements of earlier days to a more diverse soundscape. Evident in the infectious pop tune ‘Step’, the playful ‘Ya Hey’ with manipulated chipmunk-voices and the beautiful vocal harmonies on ‘Obvious Bicycle’. The different textures are quite seductive and ‘MVotC’ has been a recurrent visitor on my record player. On top of that Ezra Koenig has a way with lyrics that really enthrals me: ”The harpsichord is broken/The television’s fried/The city’s getting hotter than a country in decline” from ‘Finger Snap’ is a line you don’t hear everyday. A great album that showcases a great band’s development.

 

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factory floor

5. Factory FloorFactory Floor

“Turn it up”. Take their advice: Factory Floor’s first album is a commanding blend of instinct and control, the human and mechanical. The trio’s double LP draws as much on minimalist, New York disco as it does on Throbbing Gristle, resulting in tracks whose power lies in the combination of cold synth lines, ghostly voices, and infectious beats (drummer Gabe respects, as we should all do, the mythical cowbell).

Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds Push The Sky Away

6. Nick Cave and The Bad SeedsPush The Sky Away

Push The Sky Away is Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds 15th studio album. The first album, where Nick Cave is the only remaining member of the original line-up, and also a masterful example of the growing collaboration between multi-instrumentalist Warren Ellis and Nick Cave. After the end of the loud and noisy Grinderman, which in large parts consists of the same people as The Bad Seeds, Push The Sky Away can be seen as return to a more quiet expression that makes you recall albums like The Boatmans Call. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds was formed thirty years ago; Push The Sky Away is a promise of many more years of great music to come.

juliaholterlcs

7. Julia HolterLoud City Song

Loud City Song is the third album in as many years by LA-based Julia Holter. As with her earlier albums, the classically trained artists has found inspiration in artworks from the past – this time the 1958 musical Gigi. The album is diverse, yet very coherent, and Julia Holter manages to breed new life and sounds into a classical instrumentation of horns, strings, piano and drums. Loud City Song is atmospheric; it feels more accessible than her earlier albums (that are also great) without losing the playfulness and experimentation.

As she explains Loud City Song began with the end of her second album Ekstasis; more precisely the song Maxim’s III. The song need it’s own album, she thought, and what an album it got!

national-trouble-will-find-me

8. The NationalTrouble Will Find Me

High Violet was always going to be a tough album to follow up for the Cincinnati quintet, however, I had the same thought with some of their previous albums Alligator and Boxer, they seem to effortlessly write albums start to finish that are hard hitting and grab you in a way no other band can. Trouble Will Find Me gives us an insight into the life Matt Berninger has settled into in his more mature years having admitting “…I didn’t care what the songs were going to be about, or if they were going to seem depressing, or cool, or whatever”, even so, they still manage to roll out the hits with tracks such as, “Don’t Swallow The Cap”, “Sea Of Love” and “Graceless”. 

 

Ed Harcourt

9. Ed HarcourtBack Into The Woods

In the 12 years since Ed Harcourt released his Mercury Prize-nominated debut, he’s explored all complexities for the conveyance of his baroque pop style. So if he decides to strip things back, he must be certain of himself. Recorded in just six hours at Abbey Road Studios in London, Back Into the Woods is the kind of natural, unadorned performance you can only get away with if the songs are really that strong.

At its core, most of the album is just Harcourt at his piano or guitar, and a natural warmth that emanates from the instruments, in lovely contrast to the husky timbre of his voice.

queens-of-the-stone-age-like-clockwork

10. Queens Of The Stone Age….Like Clockwork

Frontman Josh Homme was sidelined for months after complications from a routine surgery, and …Like Clockwork is the manifestation of him literally getting back on his feet. If a little strife provides good inspiration, then it’s no wonder this is QOTSA’s strongest album in years. It’s equal parts brutal and creepy, with tracks like “If I Had a Tail” marking Homme as heir apparent to Scott Walker. Dave Grohl plays a bulk of the drums, and there are guest spots from Trent Reznor, Mark Lanegan, and Elton John. If you haven’t paid much attention to QOTSA in recent years, …Like Clockwork will make you regret ever counting them out.

kanyewestyeezus

11. Kanye WestYeezus

Yeezus‘ bookends feel like a follow on from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, a time when he was going through darker periods of his life after the death of his mother and a break up, to his current life with Kim Kardashian with “Bound 2”. If this is anything to go by we can expect the follow-up to Yeezus to be an R’n’B love album…….yeah right! The album contains unmatched production qualities with tracks that will make Kanye’s live set for years to come as he rolls out the albums other hits, “Black Skinhead” and “New Slaves”.

Sigur Ros

12. Sigur RósKveikur

In tribute to Jonsi’s made up language, “hopelandic”, I have retranslated my review in six different languages, resulting in some nonsense they can be proud of:

“Finally ROS Sigur dark, interesting bass lines and shiny surfaces with just the ignition Mogwai album in Iceland felt a huge area, sounds more and more electronic sound plan. Browse all Vacuum guitar violin, or Jónsi is much better able to withstand it.”

In English, Sigur Rós have returned with a power that had largely dispersed in their later recordings. The tweeness has been replaced by darker and heavier electronic sounds, undercut by Jonsi’s distinctive vocal style.

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09-18-Discs-Trentemoller-Lost-1024x1024

13. TrentemøllerLost

Trentemøller has gradually shifted away from the more overt, techno style of electronica towards grander, more cinematic compositions. Lost is a sweeping, sometimes broody, cinematic work that prioritizes subtlety. It’s definitely an album made more for headphones than stereos, and maybe it’s most conducive to quiet moments of reflection, but ultimately, it is beautiful. And with appearances from Blonde Redhead’s Kazu Makino, Low’s Mimi Parker, and the Drum’s Jonny Pierce, Lost might prove to be one of those gateway albums that lures unsuspecting rockists into the dark underbelly of electronic music.

Blood Orange

14. Blood OrangeCupid Deluxe

There is a good reason why Devonté Hynes is the producer in quest these days. The Englishman’s musical sensibilities are as sophisticated as a cat walking through a dollhouse, knowing exactly where to place the paws without compromising the arrangements, that is perfectly balanced between the cheesy and the chic – just as if the aesthetic of the 80’s was taken to contemporary society. Exactly the 80’s are along with New York the main point of reference for the album, which combines the best of the decade (New Romanticism, Golden Age Hip-Hop and New Jack Swing) with a who’s who of Brooklyn-socialites such as David Longstreith (Dirty Projectors) and his fiancé Samantha Urbani (Friends). Cupid Deluxe is in many ways the preliminary redemption of Hynes’ vast talent.

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These-New-Puritans-Field-of-Reeds

15. These New Puritans – Fields Of Reeds

Taking inspiration from classical and experimental composers of the 20th century, Benjamin Britten foremost among them, These New Puritans may not be the most light-hearted or humorous of bands, but Fields of Reeds is the culmination of the band’s unique and exacting approach to music. Singling out songs from this tightly woven work may be counterproductive, but “Organ Eternal” signals the power TNP can generate from a simple, “Tubular Bells”-like riff. Don’t think progressive, Fields of Reeds has the best claim this year on the title of “timeless”.

 

overgrown

16. James Blake – Overgrown

Last year, when I told people James Blake was Dubstep, they refused to accept the fact. Whilst ‘Overgrown’ is hardly at Skrillex’s level on the ‘drop the beat’ scale (yuck), it’s a lot closer than the artist’s debut. Blake’s talent means one can never tire of ‘Overgrown”s multiple layers; it has an extraordinary power to be at once very personal, whilst the electronic framework makes it like the grown up echo of a dance album. It’s about when the songs bite, just like a “Digital Lion”. See “Retrograde” for reference. What that boy does with a piano, a vocal warble and a computer is just insane. No wonder that Mercury Prize ended up in his hands.

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Arcade Fire (2013) Reflektor LP Vinyl Record Album 1

17. Arcade FireReflektor

Alongside countless other fans, I was impatiently awaiting the release of the fourth album by the Canadian seven-piece. A release that consolidates Arcade Fire’s position as one of the greatest indie bands on the planet. ‘Reflektor’ shows a more up-beat side to the band, in the disco-tinged title track, ‘We Exist’ and ‘It’s Never Over (Oh Orpheus)’, alongside rock anthems like ‘Normal Person’ and ‘Joan of Arc’. Utter magnificence that keeps growing on me, fuelled by Win Butler’s intense vocal delivery.

With a playing span of 75 minutes the band’s typical epic scope remains constant and this album is another brilliant addition to an awe-inspiring catalogue.

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Darkside Psychic

(18) DarksidePsychic 

Described as “rock’s cosmic outer edges through the immersive, body-moving framework of 21st-century house and techno”, upon the release of Psychic, Nicolas Jarr and Dave Harrington’s debut album brought a breath of fresh air to the electronic music scene in 2013, just as Jarr has previously done with his solo venture. Post-rock riffs and downbeat electronica dominates Psychic. Tracks such as “Paper Trails” has glimpses of Jarr’s solo work vocally, although admittedly containing a denser and more textured sound. Darkside have left us hungry for more as they continue to take the album on the road in 2014.

cate le bon

19. Cate Le Bon – Mug Museum

The always-evolving Cate Le Bon found sunshine in California and a more stripped-back sound for her third full length. The Velvet Underground influence on Mug Museum should smack anyone over the head, even if s/he hasn’t gone on a Lou Reed listening binge following his death. Le Bon’s sparse, minimally-produced album has easy sing alongs, a few moments of total chaos, a duet with Perfume Genius, and stays just on the right side of that vaguely surfy vibe to distinguish her from every other band that has hit the reverb a little too hard. Mug Museum is 2013’s best palate cleanser.

arcticam

20. Arctic Monkeys – AM

“Who the F*ck are the Arctic Monkeys?” Only kidding! Perhaps you didn’t see enough of the Arctic Monkeys on every music magazine’s front page and website this summer? Never fear, they’re gonna be on every end of year list. With very good reason. The Sheffield band’s fifth studio album was an absolute masterpiece from those first two drum whacks of “Do I Wanna Know?”, (a song which also possesses one of the best rock riffs of all time), to the dreamy, track twelve cover of John Cooper Clark’s poem, “I Wanna Be Yours”. The pace is sickingly fluctuating, but the adrenaline is never wavering. It also produced a video of Alex Turner wandering around London pretending to be drunk and hallucinating about kebab salesmen humping, so who can complain?

INTERVIEW: Factory Floor

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I caught up with Dom, Gabe and Nik of Factory Floor just before their very first gig in Copenhagen, drinking whiskey and ginger with Will Doyle (East India Youth), their support act for the tour. All four of them are welcoming and chatty long before the interview begins, Will recommending his favourite music journalists, Gabe pouring drinks, and Nik attempting to unplug the fridge to reduce the noise.

The interview is longer than usual, but it has remained unedited, since it captures the thought and passion the trio put into their music, both live and recorded. Behind their easy-going nature there is an energy constantly bubbling up to the surface as we discuss artistic development, North London, and collaborations with their favourite visual artists and musicians.

 

Here Today: You have been around in various guises since 2005, with singles, EPs, and so on, but what finally convinced you to make an album?

Nik: The three of us have been together since 2009… Well I can’t really speak for you two, because I joined you.

Gabriel: But I think that Factory Floor, before that, was just pissing about.

Dominic: It was a different band.

G: Yeah it was, just under the same name. I know all that history comes into it, but it only really started when us three got into a room together.

D: There was a lot of development, a lot of gigs…

G: We didn’t want to go, “Ah, there’s a bit of interest in us, so lets just do an album and disappear.” I think we wanted to make those steps really carefully.

D: We had releases in between, they just weren’t albums: EPs, singles, collaborations, they were all informing what the album was going to be like.

G: It was a big learning curve, the album, recording it, writing it as we went along, it did take a long time. But you have to go through those processes. You can’t get to a point where you’re totally happy with something until you go through that real process of development and learning. It’s very lengthy.

HT: Is that process more about refining composition, or is technical as well?

D: I think composition is a big thing. The way we work together is a hands-on, quite creative, artistic approach. We wouldn’t sit down and write music, it’s more about recognising something when it’s working, instinctively, between the three of us. When you are playing live, it’s great because you are expressing yourself in a certain way and it happens in real time. But when you have to capture it in a recording studio…

N: We built our own studio. We aren’t producers or engineers, so we had to learn how to record ourselves, because we wanted to recapture what we did live, but we also wanted to produce a record that was different from our live performance, that was more stripped down, clearer, more focused.

HT: You’ve collaborated with all kinds of people, musicians and artists, but it sounds like your recording process is much more insular.

D: When you’re working with other people, they inform your own practice, and what we got from that really came back in when we came together as the three of us again. So it’s not like we separate them, but we made a conscious decision on this album that, because it was our first document, our first LP, it was important that it should just be us.

N: We had engineers coming in, we worked with Stephen Morris as a producer, which was great, but we end up rerecording parts and manipulating them to the extent that it felt easier if we just did it ourselves and had a more hands-on approach. You experience all these creative accidents; it’s just a more creative way or recognising what we’re doing. I think fifty percent of what we do is to get these tools and work it out, as opposed to making tracks with lyrics about falling out with a friend. It’s about sound. We were working in this place in North London, where we were using the building to make our sound as well, and dismissing that idea of being in a studio, which is quite daunting. We knew we needed a place where we have all our stuff set up, and we can just walk away from it and come back the next day with it still set up.

D: You feel more relaxed in your own space. If you’re in someone’s studio you’re worried about scratching stuff or knocking a microphone over.

G: It’s a love and hate relationship, I’d miss it if it weren’t there.

D: It might well not be there, they’ve knocked the whole street down.

G: The street’s being developed, it’s all getting knocked down. It’s not far from Stoke Newington and Shoreditch, all that area, and it’s the last bit of London that’s going to be gentrified. It’s going and we can feel it on our doorstep.

D: We’ve got a Costa on the corner…

G: I don’t think there are going to be any places like that… It did influence us, but it was a massive distraction as well, but I think it needed to be there. And there’s a good drum sound if you mic it up in the toilet.

HT: So do you think that the area informed the album in some way?

G: It’s an isolated area of North London…

D: It was quite a strange time, though, because there were the riots while we were recording. There were massive things happening around, which I’m sure had some kind of unconscious influence. We were sandwiched between two Nigerian churches that would go on until the early morning. It’s an agitated area of London, there are so many things colliding. Not in a bad way, in a really creative way.

N: It felt really raw and real. And then you’ve got high volume Factory Floor music coming through the warehouse. It was an intense couple of years.

D: It’s quite weird that when we finished the album, that’s when the change started to happen. We were quite lucky really. I think we would have spent all our time in Costa…

G: I think the day the album came out in the UK, they started drilling next door to knock the building down. It’s been like that for two months, it’s bizarre and horrible.

HT: You were talking about your drum sound earlier. This album comes out on DFA records, who are known for quite a distinctive sound in terms of their drum and synths. How do you see yourself in relation to the other artists on their roster?

D: We were going to build a massive cowbell and wheel it on stage in a Tesco trolley, but someone had done that before…

G: I think we all love the New York, pre-dance stuff. It was more about organic instruments producing dance music, as opposed to digital plugins or whatever, which we aren’t against at all, but it changes the humanistic element of it.

D: DFA felt like a gateway to New York, in a weird way.

G: It’s a weird escapism. I’m in New York, but I’m in Seven Sisters, but I’m not…

N: It’s the same as moving to North London, which is away from all the scenes happening in London, because it’s the uncool part of the city. It’s nice to have that distance, so we can do our own thing.

HT: I think the use of live drums might be the thing that connects you most to that DFA sound.

D: The live drums and guitar really shift what we do from being – I know sound like I’m putting myself down – mediocre. You hear so many programmed dance outfits, but because we’re doing it live, we’re feeding off each other, it’s a very instinctive live set. It falls into improvisation at points, then it comes back.

G: You can’t really do that with a laptop. We like going against the pre-programmed stuff.

D: We push to get off that grid.

HT: Do you think of yourselves as mainly a live band?

In unison: Yes!

G: You’ve got to have that physicality. Instead of pressing one button to get that sound, press five buttons to eventually get to that sound. It’s good to think about it to get that humanistic DIY. That feeds through to the sound you’re creating. You’ve got to be hands-on with it to get to that point.

N: And if you hit the wrong one, hit it twice, so it looks on purpose.

G: Or do it for half and hour. But we all play, and I think that’s really apparent in the shows, that you can see points where it isn’t working. That doesn’t matter to us, we’re not precious about the shows being the same. There are points where it drifts into the unknown, where it starts to fall apart. It’s the trying to get it back from that where new things happen, new ideas and discoveries.

HT: This is a bit left-field, but I was interested to hear that the album was recorded on the same mix desk that the Eurythmics used. Is that coincidence?

D: We spotted it on ebay, I don’t know if we looked through the list [of previous owners] before we bought it.

G: It’s just a big volume control. It’s got some nice EQs on it, and the powerplug on it is quite nice as well, but that’s about it.

D: When did we discover that?

G: Jaki Liebezeit of Can, they were involved. But it was made in 1982, and I was born in 1982, so we were born the same day.

HT: But you have worked with a lot of your heroes and influences (Stephen Morris, Throbbing Gristle).

G: I think the mutual thing between these people and us is that they have the same approach to music. They go into a room with no preconceptions of what they are doing, and they just go with it. It’s an amazing thing. That’s why we do different live shows all the time, because we would get bored. They are from the same angle.

D: If you think a lot of the music industry is based on youth, it’s nice to meet people who are still as sharp as they have ever been; they are still inquisitive about their art.

N: They’re still transgressive …

G: Yeah, they’re not just one genre, not packaged into one thing.

D: It’s inspiring for us, to realise that hopefully in twenty years time we’ll still have that.

G: Still be in the warehouse…

HT: It’s interesting that, with your deep affection and relationship with certain periods in music history, the album sounds completely current.

G: But I just started ripping people off.

N: [To Gabe] That’s not true!

D: Some music when you’re growing up really impacts on you. I know that when I first heard “Atmosphere” it had a massive impact on my taste, whether it was the Velvet Underground or people like that. I think there is a point when you are starting when you need those seeds, but then you make your own language.

G: You’ve got to learn and progress into your own thing.

D: There was a lot of interest in the post punk era at that point. But we made complete strides away from that, didn’t we?

G: Everything happens for a reason; members are there or not there for a reason. If it’s meant to happen, it will. People come in and out of it, until you get the chemistry.

HT: You’ve worked with many visual artists, at the ICA, the Tate Modern. How did that come about?

D: We’re all from art backgrounds, we’ve all studied art up to a certain level. I think of Factory Floor as my artistic career. It’s my output at the moment.

N: It’s really important to mix art and music in the same box, it’s the same creativity. The ICA asked us to do a one-year residency after a show. The history of the ICA has always been about merging art and music, so it seemed inevitable that it would be a really good fit. We were allowed to use the space and make our show specific in terms of rearranging the space, using quadraphonic sound and different visuals. There’s one show where I’m out of it –Simon Fisher Turner’s taken my place –doing the visual for that, and Peter Gordon brought along Kit Fitzgerald, his life-long partner, who’s always looked at visuals and music in relation to each other. And Hannah Sawtell, we worked within her exhibition.

D: It’s only the industry that brings in the separation. You buy a record for fifteen quid, but you buy a piece of art for two million. That’s what separates it, the artists themselves don’t see any kind of division. Look at the Chapman brothers, they are making records, and they’re really good.

HT: And do the visuals influence the way you play?

G: For me, when we’re playing live, because I’m on the side I can see it, but it’s quite different for you [Dom], because you’re facing the audience. So they make you play, they create a mask in a way. You play along with them, when the audience is going mad, or when they’re not, it affects the show.

N: We’re driven by instinct, and it’s just another instinct. If the screen goes to green, I’ll hit my guitar, it’s really simple.

D: When you have patterns revolving, it doesn’t take long for whatever part of your consciousness to join them. Those connections are quite rewarding as an audience or an artist playing. You start to make these connections, which feels good and helps this escapism.

HT: You’ve used this word, escapism, quite a few times. But you’ve also spoken about how your environment has influenced you. So what does escapism mean for you?

N: The live element is enabling the audience to detach themselves from their every day lives. Because we have this repetition, and the lyrics are really simplified, there isn’t any narrative content there, it leaves space for the person listening to make up their own mind and respond in their own instinctive way.

D: It’s not very often you get a lot of people in a space who are able to escape from their reality and share that experience. If you go to an art gallery, you’re by yourself. You look at a picture and have your escapism. But there’s something about a performance that’s different. You’re with a group of people and you’re all sharing this dialogue between the artists and the audience.

N: That’s why it was really important for us to set up base, living in a space and being in our own bubble. It’s having that gang mentality, thinking about the same things and having the same vision. You want put that out to the people you play in front of, so they are all experiencing this sound and feeling it, losing themselves.

HT: Have you had any surprising reactions to your performances?

D: At the Tate Modern…

N: People taking off their clothes!

D: We set it up as a three-hour rehearsal, where people could come in, like an open studio. It was such an incredible reaction, because it was such a long period of time to play, it unravelled differently. People reacted quite profoundly, I think.

LIVE REVIEW: Factory Floor, Lille Vega, 14.10.2013

in Live Reviews by
Factory Floor Lille Vega

Copenhagen, I love you, but you’re bringing me down.

In the best of all possible worlds, I wouldn’t have to write this review. The city would have crammed into the smaller of the Vega siblings, and I could simply write the words “Factory Floor” and “East India Youth” for people to knowingly nod their heads and synchronise their inner bpm.

As it is, only the select few, the knowing or the fortunate, stick to the walls as Will Doyle, or East India Youth, poured waves of synth into the room. It feels like a scene from a film or tv, like Durutti Column playing in 24 Hour Party People, or even Julee Cruise stuck in that red bar in Twin Peaks. His set is constantly shimmering from one song to the next, full of brilliant melancholy and brash crescendos. Dom and Gabe from Factory Floor are listening in the middle of the room. “Pretty good, eh?”

Statistically, few of you readers will have seen him, so go buy Hostel, his latest EP, which as well as being a great record, also distinguishes itself for having been released by a strange new animal known as The Quietus Phonographic Corporation.

The yellow and blue glitch projections, as well programmes scattered around the place, are evidence of another in a long line of Factory Floor’s collaborations with visual artists. Tonight Dan Tombs is providing the sights, as part of CPH:DOX, the International Documentary  Film Festival. In the middle of the oscillating images, the band begin the same way their record does, with “Turn It Up”, which in this case is a direct order to the sound man.

I often misuse the word hypnotic, applying more or less to anything vaguely repetitive or psychedelic, but Factory Floor definitely induce some sort of altered state. The volume is fantastic, and Dom’s short loops gain urgency as they slowly modulate, blending into Gabe’s drumming, which manages to add an afro-beat flavour to the post-punk and disco beats. Singer and guitarist Nik lays on heavily effected vocals, unintelligible words, and harsh guitar stabs. It sounds rather ridiculous when described, but the discord of a guitar hit with a drum stick is given some sort of structure by the bassline, so that I start to imagine chords where chords are impossible.

Though I’m able to recognise the main synth line or sample from most of the album tracks, we are hearing something entirely different. It’s not that song structures are substantially altered, or that the band is improvising on the themes, but rather that each song consists of certain elements that, when played live, are allowed the space to enter and exit as instinct dictates. This is a band that has spent years crafting these sounds, and is able to fit them together each night in a way that is always different, but always the same, to paraphrase John Peel. When I interviewed them, they talked about wanting to keep the human element in electronic music, and it is that mix of perfectionism and human error that creates a concert like no other.

So get on the next boat to Oslo and catch up with them, or pick up the album, but for god’s sake, do something.

Win tickets to Factory Floor’s concert in Copenhagen

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Londoner’s Factory Floor are set to play at Lille Vega, Copenhagen on October 14th as part of CPH:DOX’s AUDIO:VISUAL series. We’ve got 2 x 2 tickets to give-away for the concert.

To enter the contest simply submit your first & last names along with your email address below, winners will be selected at random. The contest closes on October 10th and winners will be notified via email. 

THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED!

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