After crashing into the scene back in 2008 with a highly regarded debut release on Critical, SpectraSoul have forged a reputation for producing consistently deep and soulful dance floor fillers, enabling them to establish a strong working relationship with Friction and his Shogun Audio label.
After many years the label's patience and faith in the Brighton based pair has been rewarded with the release of their highly anticipated debut album, the fittingly named Delay No More. In the wake of the album launch party in which they took their first steps into live performance and their forthcoming gig at Shogun Audio's residency at Cable in London on August 11, we talked to the pair about the experience and the process of making this broadly influenced album.
The title Delay No More is an obvious reference to the amount of time we've been waiting for this debut album. Why has it taken so long? Does it stem from production perfectionism, which on a positive note I think is evident in the crispness of this album?
It has taken us longer than expected to get this album into the public realm! The main reason is that we've both had other commitments over the past couple of years and we wanted, before we delved too far into the writing process, to be sure that we could fully commit to the task and delegate enough time to it. The title hints more at the mentality we adopted when we knuckled down to it. We wanted to get this done and done well. There was no time to waste.
One thing that was certainly worth waiting for are those lush rolling sub lines, how much time do you dedicate purely to these elements?
We dedicate a lot of time to all the elements within our music. That isn't to say that it takes us a lot of time to write tracks. Basically we write a lot of music and even if a track ends up on the scrap heap, on reflection, we know that we have gained something from the experience of writing it. Sometimes a track will be written in one session (Ish Chat for example), and sometimes it may take a few more visits over the course of a few months, i.e. The Curb.
The way in which they combine with other elements, namely the vocals, I feel gives this album in parts a reflective, soulful kind of feel, was this something you were actively striving for when you begun working on it?
Absolutely. First and foremost, we both love vocal music. We have always made vocal music and so, when we approached this project, we knew that we wanted to take it a step further and start working with a group of vocalists so that we could take more ownership of the music we had written, and make it totally original (ignoring vocal samples).
Do you think working at lower tempos, away from drum & bass speeds those familiar with your work might expect, was one way of achieving this?
Not really. Music of different tempos was always going to be a feature of the album simply because the album is a showcase of us as artists. We have always made music at other tempos, but we haven't ever had a platform to release it. We took the opportunity to include some in this project because it seemed like the appropriate outlet and the time was right to do so.
Is this variation in tempo and style reflective of your own music tastes?
Absolutely. Our musical tastes are very, very broad. I think it would also be fair to say that most of the music we like is not electronic music. It seems silly to take influence from music that is so closely related to what we produce ourselves; incestuous if you will! We love anything from Bon Iver through to Timbaland.
You obviously enjoy working with vocalists, what do you think the use of the human voice adds not only to these tracks but to music in general?
Firstly, it makes the music more accessible. That is something that we're not ashamed to admit. We love vocal music, so vocals were always going to be a fundamental component of the music we made for the album. We can still do what we do, stick to our musical principles and tastes, but to then add a vocal to that, it takes the music somewhere else; into a new realm.
Many elements of drum & bass have been used and transposed into different styles on this release. Do you hope that those expecting a drum & bass album will have their horizons expanded into the more general realm of music that you so obviously enjoy?
We hope so. Honestly though, we didn't consider what people would think. Not one little bit. It was kind of selfish in that way. We had to do it to maintain our own sanity and in order to end up with a more rounded product. In essence, it is a drum & bass album. We just want to expand on what we already do/ have already done. It seems that drum & bass is the hardest genre tag to shake. We, as producers, have far less freedom to produce what we want without getting "hate", or experiencing a backlash than some other producers in other genres do. We will always make drum & bass-esque music, but we will also produce other styles as well.
One of the greatest advantages of releasing a mixed genre album like this is it breaks it up into little stories, each with their own visual counterpart that thanks to thematic sounds, are still able to link together to form a complete narrative. Was this the intention or rather a happy coincidence of the individual tunes?
The coherence of the album was certainly something that we worked very hard to achieve. We hoped that our audible aesthetic would be the element that would tie it all together; regardless of genre. We didn't include certain tracks if they didn't sit well with the others. At the final stage that was something that we considered quite carefully.
Was the plan always to release this on Shogun Audio? Was this in response to the faith they showed in you when you first started and as way of thanks for the space they've given you to produce this in your own time?
Absolutely. The guys at Shogun have been fantastic. We have known Ed (Friction) and Keir (Ktee) for some years and it was the natural progression to work with them on this project. They have had the patience and open-mindedness to allow us to do our thing and take our time with it. They had the confidence to take the risks that we all needed to take to make this project work, and they have been fully supportive since day one, not just for this project.
At the album launch party you played this live, how easy and or comfortable are you doing this? What sort of equipment do you use in order that two of you can successfully play such layered sounds?
After three months of practicing and ironing out technical issues, we felt fairly confident with it. We knew that we had written an album that would and could translate quite well into a live environment, and we were keen to push ourselves to make it happen. As soon as the LP was complete in late February we began working towards the live show. We got the vocalists together and told them our intentions and luckily they were all as excited as we were to get it moving.
Tech-wise, we each use a laptop and midi-controllers. We sync the computers through the power of wifi! The backbone of the track is controlled with Ableton on one computer, and the additional parts are played live with Native Instruments Maschine and a keyboard. We both have a load of FX units, reverbs, mixing desks and other such toys to add all the extra embellishments. And of course in addition we have all the vocalists to front it. It worked well first time out and we hope to expand it further in the coming months.
When can we catch you playing this again live?
We have no plans to do another live show yet. We are going to see how the land lies in the next few months and consider what we want to do moving forward. Rest assured, we will be doing more live shows in the future!
What's next for SpectraSoul? We hope not another four years till your next album?
We are currently settling into a new studio closer to our home and we're gearing up to start writing again. We have a few remixes that we're finishing and some other production work to be cracking on with so that will keep us busy for a while. However, we will be aiming to start work on another SpectraSoul project very soon. Keep those eyes peeled!
Words: Sam Oliveira
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