Sailing past not one, but several motorway exits because you’re so absorbed in the album you’re listening to is probably a fairly good indicator of the quality of the music. Towards the end of last year, I added unplanned time to a journey in just this way when I discovered London based duo, Walls.
I highlighted this immersive quality when reviewing the album, noting how it consumed my consciousness in a particular way, leaving the physical details of my journey difficult to recall. The last time I experienced this peculiar sort of musical transcendence was when listening to Stars of the Lid. Whilst their sound is entirely different to Walls, for me, they have a similar power to enchant.
Walls appear purposeful in pulling the listener into a vortex of sound like some sort of crazy audio salvia trip. Expelled like so much spittle at the other side, you’re left grinning idiotically, uncertain who or what you are. Eager to dig a little deeper, we caught up with Sam from the band to talk shop and see what inspires him to produce these lush intoxicating soundscapes.
BR.So I notice neither of you lads have any hair on your chinny chin chin, any reason why you're not sporting a face curtain?
SW. I can’t grow a proper beard, sadly it’s too straggly.
BR.If you were to join the Beard revolution is there a particular famous persons Beard you'd be most likely to imitate?
SW. Tolstoy’s beard was pretty beast mode – I’d go for that.
BR.How did your paths cross with Sam being from Manchester and Alessio Being from Vasto in Italy?
SW. Alessio’s actually lived in London for the past three or four years – the way we met was that I was asked to do a remix of his Banjo Or Freakout project (under Allez-Allez) by Richard Onslow who runs the Half Machine label – Alessio really liked my remix and suggested that we work together, just for fun… We clicked really quickly and very soon had a bunch of tracks that became the basis for our debut album.
BR.What sort of process do you go through when you start your song writing, do you just jam and see what happens or do you sit down with an idea and work on it?
SW. It varies, sometimes one of us will come up with quite a fully formed idea, sometimes we’ll just jam on our respective instruments / samples / synths etc. until we come up with something that excites us, and then we just follow that germ of an idea to its conclusion, many times we think we’ll be writing a more dancey track, and then we’ll decide to halve the bpm and change the mood entirely.
BR.Do you both agree during the writing process or is there the odd quarrel about where a song should go?
SW. We never quarrel, so much as discuss animatedly! We’re very quick to agree though when we both feel something is working as we have quite similar tastes.
BR.For the rest of the tech heads like myself, walk us through your equipment. Do your live and studio setups differ?
SW. We have a range of synths, guitars, pedals, and of course laptops… Our music is a combination of the best that analogue and digital technology have to offer, there is some great stuff that you can achieve with some of the basic Ableton plugins like ‘Simpler’ but it sounds so much nicer when you feed it real world instruments / sounds to play with. Composition happens in Ableton for me, and us when we work together, whereas Alessio writes in Logic, but then we end up mixing finally in Logic… it’s nice to separate out the process a bit like that.
BR.How do you separate your time between this and your other projects, is it quiet evenly matched or does any one project take preference over others?
SW. Pretty evenly – we live very close so we tend to do at least a couple of hours most days, but yes, it’s definitely a balancing act trying to working in our various individual work schedules, but we always manage!
BR. Ever think about bringing a third or fourth member to the group for even more depth than you’re already pumping out?
SW. We’ve talked about the possibility of introducing a drummer at some stage, but we’re such a strong unit, the two of us, also that would mean splitting what little money you can make these days from the industry even further! Definitely wouldn’t rule it out in the future, it’s all about what feels right at the time.
BR.Your album was one of my personal favourite albums of 2010 what are your plans for 2011 are you working on anything new?
SW. Yes! We’re currently working hard on the next album, and we’re really pleased with what we have - it feels like an extension of the last record, but with perhaps more nuance and depth to it.. It’s definitely challenging looking back, appreciating the rawnesss and immediacy of our first songs together, but at the same time, I feel like what we’re doing now is equally good but in a different way…
BR.Your music bleeds through the boundaries of a few different genres, how would you best label yourself or are you happy to float around and keep the music snobs making up new ones for you?
SW. Ha! Yeah, I think the very fact that we’ve not been put into a particular genre box will stand us in good stead, in that it’s given people more of a personal connection with the record, rather than being assisted or limited by a label like simply ‘dubstep’ or ‘techno’ or ‘indie’… Similar to Caribou, Four Tet or Hot Chip whose music is equally spread across different musical boundaries, we’d rather be perceived as simply ourselves rather than beholden to a scene or genre.
BR.If the world was to end tomorrow and you could tell our readers to go out and do one thing, what would it be?
SW. Go sky diving!
Apocalyptic adrenaline fix duly noted, Sam and I parted ways. Walls support Caribou and Factory Floor on the 22nd of February at Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London. This is a sold-out gig and if you’re fortunate enough to have pocketed a ticket, you should anticipate a lavish audio feast.
Posted: Fri 18 February 2011