Link here: http://equilateralmedia.co.uk/2012/05/feature-galaxians/
Interview for Equilateral
1. Introduce Galaxians, who are you?
Jed Skinner (Roland JX3P synthesizer / Nord Electro synthesizer / programming)
Matt Woodward (drum set / programming)
2. How would you describe the music you play?
It's essentially dance music. It's a blend of styles from the late 70s and early 80s, namely disco, post-disco, boogie and house.
3. What artists initially got each of you interested in writing/playing music?
Matt: You mean writing/playing music together, or as individuals when we were younger? This is kinda funny cuz Jed and myself have quite a few years separating us. For me it was a lot of different bands, artists, styles etc. I started playing drums in 1988 when I was 17 and at that time I was just discovering US indie, metal, punk, post-punk, hardcore etc, but at the same time I was into a lot of UK indie, punk and post-punk, and stuff like classic rockabilly. Before that I was really into the early hip hop and electro stuff, stuff I used to breakdance to at school discos when I was 14, so that was the first electronic music I loved. I used to love the Rock Steady Crew in particular, but I also remember my mum having a Kraftwerk tape that really intrigued me, in the sense that I loved it but it perplexed me. I used to wonder if it was music that had been made by machines or humans. From the moment I knew I was serious about how much I was into music I just wanted to be in a band. Then I got obsessed by the idea of buying a drum kit and teaching myself to play, so I did.
Jed: James Brown and DJ Shadow were big influences - Brown for the awesome rhythmic groove, and Shadow for a curiosity in checking out old and slightly obscure records.
4. What music do you two listen to right now, and how much of it has a direct influence on Galaxians?
Individually we listen to a heck of a lot of stuff, covering the full gammut of music. Too many bands and artists to list, but stuff that's old, new, mainstream, underground, weird, wonderful, western, non-western etc, you name it. Individually we both have huge appetites for music and soak up as much new stuff as often as we can. We both have a huge passion for discovering new music, and we're really driven in that respect. When we say 'new' we mean music that is new to us.
Collectively we're really into the output of classic disco and early house labels such as Prelude, Salsoul, SAM, Sunnyview, TRAX etc, plus DJs / producers such as Shep Pettibone, Francois K, Larry Levan etc. Basically, we're VERY into the stuff that was coming out of NY, Philly and Chicago at the beginning of what would later become modern dance music. Pre-computer dance music if you like, or at least that period when live players and traditional instruments met with the first classic synths and drum machines. For us that's just a really exciting time and we have a huge, seemingly never-ending passion for that stuff. We both love modern dance music too, but there's just something about those early experiments and developments, those furtive and prolific creative periods during the 70s and 80s that blow us away.
In terms of Galaxians' sound that's where we're coming from mostly. Particularly the periods when disco began to turn into boogie and then headed towards early house. We sample those early Roland TR 606, 808, 909 drum machine sounds (though obviously we'd have the real things if we could afford them) and we look to try and emulate some of that earlier stuff, which is why we're doing it through a mixture of live playing and instrumentation, and programming. So much of that older stuff still sounds fresh and vibrant to us, and we think that's because you can hear the human hand behind it all. We think that kind of process has influenced us insisting on playing live analog synths and drums, rather than staring at a screen - we do have a laptop, but it has a background role.
5. Who are your picks within the Leeds scene of late?
Jed: There's so many good bands and artists in Leeds at the moment, we're really lucky to have such a vibrant music scene here. I honestly couldn't pick out one over another because so many bands are so different in style and their approach to music. My favourite bands are ones that get the crowd jumping. Literally and metaphorically. I do think that the Brudenell Social Club is probably the best place to catch the sort of stuff I like.
Matt: Okay, my first response here is to say that I tend to shrink away from the word 'scene'! In terms of stuff I've seen lately it's hard to say, because I've honestly not had much time to go to as many gigs as I'd like. I'm not always as aware as I'd like to be about Leeds bands, but I think it's just because there's a lot, old and new, and it's hard for me to keep track sometimes. I don't tend to go with trends too much either. What I mean by that is that a band doesn't have to be hip or new to be good or relevant. There are Leeds bands who have been around for over ten years who are better than they've ever been, I think. Cowtown have always been good, but as songwriters they've upped their game consistently over the years. Quack Quack were ace and I wish they would return. Same goes for Printed Circuit. Runners are good. Nope too. Hookworms are pretty good also. Slowcoaches too. Pifco are always fun and who doesn't enjoy watching Mary play drums with one hand and synth with the other? T.O.Y.S. I saw once last year and they were cool. There are lots, including bands I've forgotten to mention here and bands I still need to see.
6. What's your overall opinion of the Leeds music scene and how it functions?
Jed: From what my non-Leeds friends tell me, Leeds is unusual in the sense that quite a lot of people are either, a), in a band, b), doing a home music project, or, c), their best friend is in a band. Plus people in bands are often in two or three others. I think that's something priceless, that there's so much music going on. It seems to me that people end up playing because of these shared connections between so many musicians.
Matt: This is a difficult question as the answer is potentially complex and I could talk about it forever too. I guess that after almost 15 years living here Leeds is still where I want to make music and play in bands. Again, that word scene doesn't mean anything to me really, because there isn't one here, or at least I wouldn't describe it in that way. There are different communities involved in different things. Sometimes they meet or cross paths, sometimes they are completely polarised stylistically, ethically, politically etc. Sometimes people get together at something big and everyone parties and goes nuts. All of these things make Leeds an attractive city for me. It's the sense of community, the fact that you regularly meet people here from all over the UK, the US, Europe etc. After living here for a long while I'm still going to new club nights, parties, going to see new bands, making new friends, having new kinds of fun etc. It regenerates and that helps keep it fresh. We're lucky here, but people have also worked hard to establish communities. We have quality and quantity here, which is rare I think. Something to be cherished. For me it's better than anywhere else in the UK for music, at least in terms of what I want to play, see, or get involved in on any kind of level.
7. Describe your composing and practicing dynamic.
It's the usual mix of playing songs from our set or just playing new shit, often fuelled by too much coffee, crisps, chocolate, and cans of pop, depending on how thirsty or starving we are. Sometimes the pop sets the mood. If we have Lucozade we blow up and play loud, faster etc, but if it's Rio we're drinking we tend to slow it down and get a bit more boogie-house. We try and get together once a week or so. We'll just tend to have an idea, sometimes it's a synth melody, sometimes just a synth bass part, and then we flesh it out a bit. Often we'll issue complex, technical musical instructions to each other, like "make it a bit more like that Carol Williams track", or something. It's rare that one of us comes to the rehearsal with a full song idea though, we both tend to develop the ideas at the same time. Usually we start from the ground up. For example we might work on a tempo for the drums with whatever nuances we might wanna add, (syncopated snare notes, open hi-hat accents etc) then the synth bass parts are added and programmed, followed by a main synth melody played live, extra programmed harmony or melody parts, percussion samples etc. Sometimes it's not done in that order, but essentially it's a layering process.
8. How do you go about getting gigs?
It's probably the same as it is with most bands like us who are relatively new. It's been really ace for us so far as after we played our first couple of gigs we got asked to play more, so now we're seemingly on a bit of a roll and have gigs around the UK to look forward to. In terms of how, we just did the usual things: write a bio, set up pages on Facebook, Soundcloud etc, put some demo recordings online, email a headsup to contacts we've made from our previous bands, tours etc, and just chase after support slots at gigs we might really want to play. What's been nice for us is that every gig we've done so far has led to another gig, so we'd like to keep that momentum going.
9. Any words of wisdom for Leeds acts just starting out?
Jed: My advice would be to play what you like, even if it's something you don't think anyone else will like. Try to hook up with other musicians who you think might be into the same stuff as you, too. Play as many gigs as you can get, be that a house party, pub cellar or a 'proper' venue, because then you might get offered another gig afterwards.
Matt: Well I'm not wise by any stretch of the imagination, so am not sure about words of wisdom. I dunno, it depends on your reasons for being in a band or wanting to play music. If what drives you is the desire to make money, be famous and get laid then you should probably apply for Big Brother or X Factor or some shit. For me music is an art and it's a serious thing, but it's still got to be about enjoying something, feeling good and having fun. I'm driven by lots of things: my desire to write and play what I hope is good music, the creative process, developing as a live act, my own obsession with music and being a better player, writer etc. Therein lies the fun, for me. I think that if you adore music, want to be in a good band or be part of a thriving musical community then Leeds is a good place to be. Personally speaking, one thing I would say is always try and retain a sense of humility about what you do. Arrogance is most unattractive.
10. What does the future hold for Galaxians?
Well in the near future just more gigs and our first record hopefully. We've recorded our first six studio tracks, so the immediate plans are to get those mixed and mastered and whore them around a bit, including sending stems to people in the hope they might wanna do remixes for us. Other plans include playing more gigs outside Leeds, carrying on with writing our second set of songs, doing some artwork for t-shirts etc, setting up a blog or website and a bandcamp, setting up a band fund, saving for a Juno synth, and then going on tour in 2013, hopefully with a 12" to sell. It's all about the vinyl. Then after that we wanna play on Jools Holland. That last bit is a lie.
Drums, drum machines, Pure-Tone Analog Frequency, digital keys and other electronic devices.