Radd: What makes London unique compared to other cities you play in around the world?
FF: We’ve been coming to London for probably like 14 or 15 years as a band and when we first started touring it was the first place we ever came. It’s always been a great city to come and tour and I think that London is like the tastemaker for the rest of the world.
Radd: What’s it like being based in Wellington, so far away in the world and yet you’re putting out all this music internationally? What’s it like as a hub for creativity?
FF: Wellington is a great place to live, it’s beautiful; you’re very connected to the sea and the land. It’s a great lifestyle. We’ve got a really global taste; we’ve got our ears open to the rest of the world. In the early days there was this huge Wellington reggae scene and then there’s the jazz school that a lot of us went to. It’s still a great place to work.
Radd: So you’re now 8 or so records deep, how has your music evolved over this time?
FF: If you look at the first record – that was recorded live at the Matterhorn straight onto a MiniDisc, then onto CD, then MiniDisc onto vinyl – it’s hilarious. That was a magic gig. From that we were a live band primarily and had no ambition about recording, but then we got around to doing an album, that was Based on A True Story. That went stupid. From then, with every album we’ve kind of got better at our studio craft and refining our process. I think we re-evaluate or re-negotiate the terms of how we work in the studio. It’s a different process and a different feel. It kind of depends on the location too, Based on A True Story was recorded in a one room little downstairs place right on the water in Lyall Bay, then we moved into a slightly bigger space which had 2 bedrooms for Boon. Then for Blackbird we moved into our studio-home and we were all able to stretch out and all play in the same room together. That evolved the sounds. And then with Bays we refined it even more.
Radd: I noticed one of your tags there was a lot of different genres on there, but it had techno there as well…
FF: Oh yeah? Many years ago we did the Movement Festival in Detroit and that was awesome. After our show we went out with Derrick May to his first ever club night and it was so much fun, we got a nice little taste of the Detroit Techno scene. I just love dancing, I really enjoy the techno sensibility.
Radd: I know Jazzanova was an early fan. What was is like working with him?
FF: We actually initially hooked up with this guy called Daniel Best, Best 7 Records; he was the one who brought out Midnight Marauders in Europe. That was actually brought to Europe by Recloose who played it to Gilles Peterson and then played it all around Europe.
Radd: So Recloose helped you out?
FF: Oh yeah totally! Daniel Best, from Best 7 records- he was affiliated with Cyanide Records, they’re a nice smaller label.
Radd: Do you have a set creative process, do you have rituals before you make an album?
FF: A lot of the time we’ll just pick the instruments, get the keyboards plugged in and the guitars in the room and we’ll have had a sample session earlier. Then we’ll basically let that play and marinate for a couple of days and then we’ll just jam on something for a day or half a day and record all that and then some poor sucker, actually Toby Ling trumpet player – we call him the librarian, we’ll all sit down and he’ll pick out bits he thinks are interesting or that work. Then we’ll go back and jam on it a couple of times and see where it goes and what ideas are triggered.
Radd: That’s a really interesting process, it’s almost mathematical but also quite natural.
FF: Yeah that was how it worked on the last album. We used to do half hour jams live and the songs would take shape organically in a live setting.
FF: But we don’t really have time for that now. We’ve got too much back catalogue so we can’t do it. But we kind of transpose that creative process into the studios.
Radd: What about the fact that these smaller venues are shutting for example here in London?
FF: Yeah that’s a huge problem at home too, drinking laws are tightening up, gentrification is forcing people out of inner city warehouses. Those were always good places to meet people and throw parties do fun shit and throw some paint on a wall, set up turntables, band set up. It was cheaper and easier to get an inner city warehouse loft space, I think those spaces are really important. I think small clubs are really important. We can’t all go just into doing big clubs or big festivals.
Radd: My final question is what advice would you give to a young producer/ musician or DJ sitting at home trying to crack it in the music game…?
FF: It’s all gigging man, it’s all gigging now; that’s gotta be your primary income stream too so you might as well get good at that. And if you’re a bedroom producer then figure out a way of getting your beats out there, and make it an exciting way to play. Do some gigs, get some collaborations together. Get out there and perform as much as you can, that will build the hype. That’s how we did. Do every gig you can, play every crazy little festival you can get your hands on.
Co-Interviewer – Chris Turner @CCTblues