North London house duo Gorgon City have had a big last 12 months, moving towards the release last October of their first full-length studio album, Sirens. The two producers, Kye Gibbon and Matt Robson-Scott (AKA DJs Foamo and RackNRuin) have just slogged their way through a European tour ahead of Future Music Festival this month. The BRAG catches Robson-Scott midway through breakfast.
“I think it’s just been ingrained in us to make music constantly, whether we’re on tour or in the studio,” he says. “We’ve been making music for so long it’s part of who we are; we can do it anywhere. People who are the most prolific and people who make the most music are the people who can make music anywhere. Nowadays everyone’s touring constantly so you’ve got to make music on the road.”
For the release title, Sirens, Robson-Scott and Gibbon opted for a Hellenic link with the band’s name. “I think we liked the idea – obviously it’s from Greek mythology – that sirens are this thing of beauty but they also have this twisted side to them,” Robson-Scott explains. “I think the album’s a bit like that; there’s a lot of lush sounds but it also has a lot of hard basslines. A lot of the songs are uplifting but they also have kind of twisted parts, like with the ‘FTPA’ song – we thought [the name Sirens] fitted quite well for the album.”
Writing songs hand-in-hand with the many feature artists on the album was a big influence on the diversity and dichotomy of its sound. Being creatively open and experimenting with style is something Gorgon City want to be known for, says Robson-Scott.
“The whole album was never really planned; we experimented with it. We were just hoping that people would be open to anything that we were doing. We want to make albums that stand the test of time and aren’t really just of one style or one genre or one time period. The lyrics have to mean something; the sounds have to be interesting and not just generic. It has to sound unique and different and like it hasn’t been done before.”
Like all producers, Robson-Scott and Gibbon have go-to sounds that they’ve developed separately over their careers. Combining them for Gorgon City saw the emergence of the pair’s trademark rich, layered synth lines, something Robson-Scott says comes from their preference for analogue.
“We like using analogue synths, like Rolands and analogue Korgs, things with a warm sound. We like the PolySix, which is a great synth for Korgs. Lots of soft synth for bass. We’ve built loads of sounds over the years as separate producers, so we’ve got quite a lot of stuff we’ve created ourselves that we can go back to as well.”
Part of this analogue preference comes from their history of DJing together as childhood friends. The old-school British electronic music scene was a seminal influence on both Robson-Scott and Gibbon.
“I used to go to the record store every Thursday, just to get as many new records as we could for the weekend,” says Robson-Scott. “You’d meet people and you’d see people you knew at the record store, then you’d talk to the guy working there who would save you a couple of tunes you’d like. It was a very good community vibe. Record stores were a massive part of the music community when we were growing up.
“We used to go get our own vinyls cut, ready for the weekend. Maybe we’d make a tune during the week and then get our record cut at the local cutting house. I mean, there’s only a couple now but there used to be loads and that was always a really fun feeling. You’d spend 20 quid to get one song pressed on a vinyl so you could play it on the record player.”
With music moving towards a more global, internet-based connectivity, Robson-Scott sees the local genre-spawning communities that characterised the early British dance wave as a disappearing phenomenon. While he acknowledges both the pros and cons of technology, he doubts British music will ever become too Americanised because of the internet.
“I think with British music it’s always going to stay British but [America] likes to take on their own idea – you know, like they did with EDM and dubstep. They took a European thing and gave it their own identity. I don’t know what’s going to happen next but I don’t think it’s going to be an issue for British producers or the British scene because it’s so different to what we do that it doesn’t affect us. They adapt it and it turns into their own thing.”
Gorgon City play Future Music Festival 2015 at Royal Randwick Racecourse on Saturday February 28. And Sirens is out now through Neon/VirginEMI.