Extra Curricular are a band that makes soul music in a 2012 style. With their Won't Stay Down track out on Doorly's Pigeonhole This label we took the opportunity to discover what they're all about.
Where are you from and to what extent would you say this influences your music?
We're based in Leeds and Huddersfield, some of us were born here, but Thabo is originally from Zimbabwe. It rains a lot, so I guess it's given us more time a rehearsal room or recording in a studio! The scene up here has been good to us, there's plenty of great artists and bands that have set the bar high, so we're always striving to push ourselves.
When did you first get together?
We cut a couple of EPs early on using other producers in studios, but we quickly found that it was never quite 'right' or how we imagined we wanted to sound. A few of us had messed around with Cubase and Nuendo for some years, but we decided to invest in some good hardware and start producing ourselves. That was early in 2011.
How would you describe your approach to making music?
We get together in a room and start playing! We never have any preconceptions about what we want to make, we just play until we hit on something that sounds and feels right. Once we've got a few ideas down as a band, we take it into the studio and start to flesh it out.
We also make sure that we're constantly road-testing stuff, seeing which songs or sections that an audience vibe off or that just feel amazing to play is a really important part of the process. You'll always hear a few unrecorded/unreleased tracks at an EC show.
What's your studio setup like?
We've got a big iMac running Pro Tools and Logic, that's our main setup. We have the luxury of having live drums, bass, guitar, and horns, so we don't have a lot of hardware synths etc. (although we'd like more!). For tracking things like vocals and the horn section we tend to go to a bigger studio with expensive mics that we can't afford... yet.
Tell us more about your Won't Stay Down release on Pigeonhole This, what did you have in mind when you made it?
We had a week out of our normal rehearsal space and ended up in some dank cellar room that smelt like piss. The vibe definitely came from that. I think the inspiration lyrically was due to a few knock backs we'd had over the course of being together as a group, but I could be talking out of turn there. The whole thing definitely came from a dark place, but we don't stay beaten for long. It's good to have those moments I think.
When we got it into the studio, there were a few things we'd not tried before production-wise, so it was a bit of an experiment. After that, Doorly sent through a reworked version that just took it to a whole new level. It's great having a fresh set of ears on a project and he's brought his own style to it too.
How did you manage to hook up with Pigeonhole This and what's it like working with Doorly?
We'd met Doorly a year or so previously at one of his Afterparty night's in Huddersfield and exchanged numbers. One day I just got a call out of the blue saying "I've started a label and I want you guys involved". The crazy thing is that we thought he was looking to sign dance music producers, but then he explained that the label was called 'Pigeonhole This!' and the whole point was that it would span genres and scenes.
That was music to our ears because we've always tried to mix different genres together to create our own sound. Doorly's a great guy to work with, he has always got time to talk whenever you call/text and he's had some really good advice to pass on from what he's experienced. He's really forward thinking.
Got any other releases / remixes in the pipeline we should look out for?
Our next single 'Last Day' is out August 8th, with another massive reworking by Doorly, but also an amazing DnB remix by SpectraSoul. They've both had some Radio 1 play already, which is really promising a few weeks ahead of the release. Other than that we've got a feature spot with Duke Dumont that should be out in September sometime, and then we're working hard to get our next EP finished, to come out in October/November.
Are you making any other styles of music?
Our whole thing is to take the instruments, tools, and knowledge that we have to make something that sounds like 'Extra Curricular'. Most genres appear at some point or another, but we're always conscious not to 'force' it. If we've been listening to house or funk or dub step that will manifest itself in the rehearsal room and might just make it into a track.
Where can people see you play in the near future?
We're playing Kendal Calling on July 29th and a few trips to London dotted around. Our dates are always being updated, so the best place to check is the website.
What do you get up to outside of music?
It's safe to say we're pretty much fully on a music tip most of the time! If we're not making or playing it were at shows or raves enjoying it as a listener. I think the one thing we all agree on big time though is food... good food... and sunshine on the few rare times it appears up here!
Any advice for any aspiring producers out there?
Try not to follow trends too much, they're out as soon as they're in, and if you've seen the boat... you've already missed it. Spend your time making music that makes you happy first and foremost. If it moves you, chances are it will move other people.
What tracks, producers and labels are you feeling at the moment?
We're into all kinds of stuff, but we're all really feeling the riot brass stuff coming over from the States. Bands like Youngblood Brass Band and Hypnotic Brass Ensemble are making crazy party music with tubas and trumpets and drums - it's nuts, and a lot of fun to watch. Other than that people like Janelle Monae and Allen Stone have been game changers this last 12-18months.
What's the best gig you played in the last six months?
Playing our hometown with Example, Zane Lowe, and Artwork at one of Doorly and Bongo Dave's Afterparty Warehouse raves has got to be right up there for us. 2000 people in a dark, sweaty warehouse that's been decorated with pink fur and love hearts was just surreal!
Anything else you want to tell us about?
As well as having our big, live show where everything is turned up to 11, we can also strip everything back to really chilled acoustic stuff. Not many people know that, but we do! If anyone from the BBC is reading, book us for a Live Lounge!!
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