MUSIC: BELLERUCHE INTERVIEW (DON’T PANIC MAY 2012)
Since 2005, North London-based trio Belleruche have been getting toes tapping and hips shaking with their addictive, highly original electronic-soul sound – and now they’re back with their shiny new fourth album, Rollerchain. Guitarist Ricky Fabulous tells us more.
Rollerchain has just been released. What kind of lyrical and musical concepts were behind it?
It’s more experimental in sound than our previous albums. We would write parts then chop them on the computer, replay them through amps and them start chopping again. This fits with the lyrics, as they’re very much about personal feelings and experiences, and the music takes this kind of form – kind of like fragments of thoughts and ideas laid against each other to make sounds and lyrics.
It’s your fourth album – has there been any pressure to live up to the success of the other three?
I think felt the least pressure with this one, as we were so into the music we were making. We’ve always felt very free as to how we approach our music, and don’t feel we have to sound a certain way, but with Rollerchain we felt really happy pushing our ideas.We’ve become more confident with writing music. We don’t go into writing with a clear idea of how something sounds; we’re open to where the idea might go.
I’m always struck by the very classic aesthetic that Belleruche seems to evoke. Would you say that a sense of nostalgia influences your work?
I don’t think we’re necessarily a nostalgic band. We like a lot of very old jazz and blues, but then a lot of these recordings sound as fresh today as they ever did. We don’t have much interest in trying to emulate these recordings, but we do want to create a similar atmosphere. If you’ve got a good riff and vocals, there’s no point having layers over that – let people hear them as they are.
After seven years of working together as a band, is it ever difficult to get inspired and come up with new material?
We don’t really have much trouble coming up with new stuff, as we all listen to a lot of music, both new and old. We’ve always got ideas to try – sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but that’s all part of the process. Even when things don’t work, then at least that’s that avenue explored.
Belleruche is known for having a wide-ranging and diverse spectrum of sound. Is experimentation important to your creative process?
Experimenting is vital. I’d rather try new ideas and have them fail than just knock out the same old stuff. We try jams quite a bit in our live shows – they’re not always great, but when they work it’s fantastic, as you know and the audience knows that this is something unique being created in that moment.
You’re also set to play a whole slew of UK and European dates over the next few months. What can we expect from your live shows?
Our live show is pretty exciting now, as the sounds on Rollerchain are different to what we’ve done before. There are a lot of doubled baselines, so both Kathrin and I play bass on a few songs, and there’s also some vocal looping, and DJ Modest has an assortment of toys to create the songs. The songs on record didn’t finish there – we’ve been writing new sections to make them work live. Playing the songs make them come alive for us, as we approach them as live songs, not trying to recreate the album verbatim.
You often give away free downloads to your music, and on your tour, UK crowds will get the opportunity to download different tracks or remixes from the album at each gig. Do you think the prospect of free music is necessary to keep acts interesting to fans nowadays?
The music business is changing. We went to SXSW this year, and most of the seminars (not that I went to any that didn’t involve free booze) were about record companies trying to cope with free/illegal downloads. It’s quite liberating. I’m cool with people getting music for free, as long as they put something back in, like coming to a show or buying a T-shirt. It’s important for people to remember that they’re part of the process as much as it is for bands to remember they wouldn’t be able to do this without people supporting them.
What are your plans once the tour is over? What can we expect from Belleruche in the future?
We’ll be back on tour in October, but with regards to music we’re always playing with ideas. Having made Rollerchain, it’s made us all realise how many more things there are to explore. For example, one day, when we were staying in Bulgaria, I went to see DJ Modest in his room, and found him hanging out of the window with a microphone. He was recording the sound of the cars on the ring road, which we then looped (ironically), filtered and made it into the bonus take on the iTunes album. It’s things like that which work well and make you want to continue exploring. Who knows what stuff we’ll be making in the future?
Interview by Charlotte McManus
Posted on 10/05/2012, in Music and tagged belleruche, charlotte mcmanus, dj modest, don't panic, don't panic magazine, interview, kathrin deboer, music, ricky fabulous, rollerchain. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.