MUSIC: HELIUM ROBOTS INTERVIEW (FAULTmagazine.com 18.06/12)
Hailing from the deepest, darkest reaches of space, and now marooned on Earth, Helium Robots (or, as they’re known on this planet, Lydia Jones and Ewan Willmott) are whiling away time till they’re picked up by the Mother Ship by making atmospheric, galaxy-infused electronic indiepop. Having just beamed in their debut EP Voltopia, we get under the wires of robotkind’s most promising musical act.
FAULT: You describe your music as ‘the heavenly apocalypse’ – what do you mean by that, exactly?
EWAN: One of my first reviews used the word ‘apocalyptic’; I’m just trying to copy Daft Punk in using reviews to my advantage. We liked the ‘heavenly’ idea because Lydia sings in a choir.
FAULT: And what was the inspiration behind the name?
Ewan: My early tracks never had enough bass, so it was essentially a high-pitched computer noise – a helium robot.
Lydia: We’re also robots from the H314 galaxy waiting here in human form until our lift comes to take us home. Instead of doing Sudoku, we thought we’d use the time making music.
FAULT: Ewan, Helium Robots was originally your project – what motivated you to extend it into a duo?
EWAN: I always thought I’d need more people. I found Lydia’s MySpace through an Internet band website. We’ve actually still never met, except at gigs; but even then, we don’t look at each other.
FAULT: Tell us about your new debut full-length, Voltopia.
LYDIA: Expect unusual harmonies on the vocal tracks. I sang all the parts. Together with the electronic backing track it can sound intense, with complicated layers of interesting sounds. Our engineer said he’s never used as much reverb as he did with us.
EWAN: The main themes are humans as robots, experimenting and mystery. And a bit of drinking.
FAULT: As an up-and-coming London-based act, where do you ultimately want to take the project?
EWAN: Back to the galaxy we came from. We’ve been on Earth for eons now. I miss my mum.
LYDIA: Before we go home, I’d like to play the Sunday night show of Strictly Come Dancing. Anything else is secondary.
FAULT: Many electronic acts can be somewhat stale to watch on stage – do you ever find it hard to translate your music into an engaging live experience?
LYDIA: Helium Robots has a singer, which helps – but even a girl singing could get boring; I haven’t mastered popstar dancing quite yet. We’ve been experimenting with hitting a drum on some songs. It’s much harder than you’d think.
EWAN: We’d like to get some visuals in the show. There’s also some talk of enhancing my sartorial aspect. No idea why.
FAULT: And what are the average Helium Robots backstage demands?
EWAN: Wasn’t it word on the street that Adele asks for six teaspoons in her dressing room? I’d go for seven spoons. If we can’t beat her in album sales, we’ll beat her in cutlery.
LYDIA: And with my teaspoons I will have seven tiny pots of malukah honey. And only blue M&Ms. And a pony.
FAULT: You’ve remixed a Lana Del Rey track in the past. When producing, would you rather work on music by established mainstream names, or smaller underground acts?
EWAN: It’s funny; that was my first ever remix, and it came together so easily. Liking the track is the main thing when it comes to remixes. After that, I don’t really care.
FAULT: What other bands should we be listening to right now?
EWAN: CEO’s White Magic album.
LYDIA: Autoheart, and Andrew Montgomery, of indie band Geneva fame; his voice is so beautiful it hurts. Even my robot heart can feel it.
FAULT: … and who should we definitely NOT be listening to?
EWAN: Me singing.
LYDIA: Agreed. Ewan singing is like the sound of a computer buffering.
Voltopia is out now on iTunes – for more details check out heliumrobots.tumblr.com.
Interview by Charlotte McManus