Wednesday, 16 September 2009

interview: django django

Stuff that falls into place beats carefully contrived hands down. My favourite discovery of 2009, Django Django has been bubbling away on the stove for a while now.

I met up with Vinnie (vocals / guitar) a few weeks back and we went to a pub quiz in Hackney. Whilst assisting my inept friends to a totally undeserved fourth place, he filled me in on the Django Django story.

Vinnie met Dave (percussion / programming) through a mutual friend at uni in Edinburgh around nine years ago. His friend informed him that Dave was knocking out some dance beats. Vince was churning out garage and they intended to work together but got sidetracked.

Fast forward six years and Vinnie had settled in London, working as an architect. Dave moved down and the two boys got together for a chat about their musical ambitions. It sounded like they were on the same page, so Django Django began.

I attribute their thrilling promise to the presence in their music of buzzy, electronics set against a raw, warm bluesy sound. Keeping the whole ship ubertight is a great sense of rhythm underpinned by choice lyrics. Vinnie admitted as much, “I write stuff trying to think of the melody and the rhythm at the same time. I don’t sorta go through lots of versions trying to find the right one.” The words and the rhythm always seem so on the ball; any clumsy turns of phrase swiftly righted by Dave’s talent as a ‘pun-master’.

Their composition process isn’t always so straight forward, debut single Storm being an example of how Django Django like to flip things on their head. “It was almost like a folk song. Dave just had this little fucking Casio thing and we just switched drum beats, found something new and played along to it. It changed the song completely.”

Dave and Vinnie are the key players in Django Django, the melodic nous of Vinnie backed up by Dave’s prowess on the production side. “We started the band and formed a lot of what Django Django sounds like. Dave has a real talent for making links and joining the dots. He’s a music boffin. He can sit down with someone and talk about some obscure record released way back when. I’m not really like that. There are cases where it comes from me, cases where it comes from Dave and stuff that we’ve done as a more traditional band type of thing. You get three different sounds, not different sounds but different sorts of feeling.”

The predominant feeling that comes across my conversation with Vinnie is a measured desire to not overextend themselves. “The good thing for me is I don’t really like playing guitar as guitar, I like to play it pared down, sparse. Dave is the same. It comes from the fact we’re not brilliant musicians.” Such awareness is reassuring, their songs ooze with self-assurance.

Their lineup has chopped and changed slightly as they've progressed as Vinnie goes on to highlight, “We had another bassist who was in the Phantom Band. He was with us for about six or seven months, then the Phantom Band were getting too big and he headed off with them. Then Tommy (bass) who we started off with Edinburgh and Jim (keys) we know from mates who went to Glasgow.”

I’d talk more about it all coheres in their live show but I can’t actually remember anything; at their 93 Feet East gig earlier this year I was too busy necking. Anyway, Tommy and Dave supply all the artwork for the group, an artistic vein clearly runs through this group. No surprise then that they chose to put out on Shadazz, the tiny Glaswegian label set up by Luke Fowler, an artist of international repute.

Django Django don’t care for being flavour of the month or belonging to any particular scene. “We’re a wee bit older, we know what we want to do in terms of sound, so it’s not derivative. We don’t have any strong links with other bands, it’s more mature that way, less faddish.” When quizzed on who they wanted to emulate, Vinnie dropped classic names like 60’s psych band The Monks, Talking Heads and recent ‘Aussie Cream-rip offs’ Tame Impala.

All recording to date has occurred in Dave’s bedroom, and will continue until the album drops next year. This autumn will see a second single, with the group set to sidestep the temptation to unleash solid gold future smash, Default, whilst momentum is still building. Playing live over the last eighteen months has brought a new depth to the more recent, as yet unheard, recordings - described by Vinnie as “dirtier, faster with bigger beats and more balls.”

Django Django - Love's Dart (Live on Marc Riley)

I can’t wait to hear where it all ends up. Modest as they are, there’s a lot more to come from these guys. I'm proud to announce they will be headlining the inaugural shattered satellite party. Until then, wrap your ears around Wor, a frenetic affair which I’d like to compare to Insistor era Tapes ‘n’ Tapes on happy pills. The other session tracks show a band who don’t just replay their recordings note for note. I like that. Sit back, relax and enjoy the final part of the interview as I just started asking the questions that really needed asking. And watch out for Winds of Cairo I’m told.

Django Django - Wor (Live on Marc Riley)

J: What did you have for breakfast?
V: A nectarine and a clementine.

J: Last time you feared for your life?
V: I had to break in through my kitchen window the other day and had to jump down into the kitchen from a seven-foot high ceiling and was potentially going to fall down onto all this broken glass. The leg on the table broke as well.
I had to break in. I’d been locked out for three days. It was dangerous. Not life threatening. I could have been terribly scarred.

J: Last fight?
V: Think it was at Standon Calling last weekend. I think we’d run out of beer, we got down there last. Everybody had been drinking my booze out of my bag. Band guys had all gone and it got a bit narcy at about 4 in the morning.

J:Last cried?
V: Cried laughing or cried?
J: Cried.
V: I think when I got locked out of the house.

J: Who would you rather kill? Superman or Spidey?
V: Superman. He’s just got a dodgy quiff.

If it were me I’d kill Spidey, Toby Maguire is the human embodiment of wet.

Django Django - Storm (Live on Marc Riley)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was happy to discover this interview and the live tracks. "Storm" and "Love's Dart" have been on constant rotation here at home. There's a Western sound to it that goes amazingly well with the harmonies and staccato rhythm. I'm itchin' to see what comes next. Thanks for the post and the music!