Beginnings: The 405 meets Friendly Fires and AlunaGeorge
Bacardi Beginnings is a new project which sees established artists collaborate with and mentor up-and-coming musicians with a £10,000 budget from Bacardi. First was Mylo and singer-songwriter Ronika, followed by Hot Chip's Joe Goddard, and singer Jessie Ware.
The latest collaboration is between Friendly Fires and AlunaGeorge, and it came about when Ed first saw the video for 'I Know You Like It', completely unaware that the Aluna of AlunaGeorge was his friend from back home in St Albans. The two bands met up in Miloco Studios in London to start working on their collaborative remix, and I caught up with them to learn more about their involvement with the project.
What was it about AlunaGeorge that made you choose them?
Ed: It was my initial reaction. When I first heard 'I Know You Like It', it was kind of like that era of R&B that I really enjoyed, kind of like Timbaland and Missy Elliot. Aluna's voice is amazing, and it sounds really sexy, and not super trancey like most R&B you hear on the radio at the moment. I didn't know that it was the Aluna that I knew from back in St Albans. It's really satisfying and great seeing someone that you're friends with succeed.
Do you try and pay attention to up-and-coming artists and bands?
Ed: It's relatively easy, because when you're in a band you spend so much time sitting around doing naff-all. If you've got a laptop in front of you, you can pretty much listen to everything.
What comes under your mentoring responsibilities?
Jack: We're just going to do a remix of their new single, and I don't know if we'll be teaching anything…
Ed: I don't think anybody's really going to be learning anything
Jack: If anything, it's going to be a two way process. It's nice having them around here, because it means it's going to be a bit more collborative, which'll be interesting.
Ed: It's definitely more of a collaborative remix than us just being back in our garage and having 100 percent control over it. I'd find it quite weird if it was us hovering over someone doing a remix of us, and being like "Are you sure you want to do that?"
How has it been working in Miloco Studios?
Jack: We recorded a lot of 'Kiss of Life' here, when it was just a big oblong room. It's a great space, because there's so much room to do things.
Ed: What I really liked about recording here in the past, is that the desk was in the room with the band, so it was all very involved.
Edd: It's great being back here on someone else's money! We can just enjoy the time and not have to worry. And the free coffee and endless rhubarb and custards isn't too bad, either.
AlunaGeorge is quite a different sound to FF...what was it like working on something so out of your comfort zone?
Ed: We've had about four starting points, and now we're finally at one that we're happy with, and we've tried to keep it close to the R&B feel of the original track. We haven't sped it up or anything like that, and I think we're going to try and include more a live aspect to the track, and make it a little less electronic.
Jack: We were listening to it last night, and listening to Aluna's vocals over and over again, and it didn't get boring or annoying. It's kind of nice to start with a really great vocal and be able to meld everything around that. The way we usually work is building up some instrumentals, and then the vocals coming later, so that was great.
Has the different kind of production used for the remix changed the way you'd like to produce any new material?
Ed: I think the way George works, which is very minimal, is quite inspiring, and the way he comes up with interesting and creative ideas kind of reminds me of when we were starting, as we had a really stripped down set-up. We've brought in a lot of new gear since then, and it's made it easy to lose sight of what's important, which is writing a really good catchy song, so I feel like I've been inspired by that from doing this project.
Apart from the Bacardi project, have you guys been writing/recording anything new?
Ed: We've been getting a lot of ideas together, but at the moment each song is sounding completely different to the next, so it'd be kind of unrealistic to predict what the sound of the new material is going to be yet. We've been writing all of our music here, and coming here is a nice change from being in my garage!
What's next for the band after Bestival?
Ed: We've been very strict to say that our last show is going to be Bestival, and we haven't got anything planned, so I think the plan is to get right back in the studio and knuckle down and focus. I can't wait, because we've been touring for ages.
How did AlunaGeorge come together?
Aluna: I was in a band, and George and the guy I was working with had been talking on MySpace, and then George did a really cool remix for us. I got together with George to see if I could write a song for the band, and we got in the studio and wrote stuff that was completely unrelated to my old band, and we thought "hmm, that was fun….that was surprising."
George: We just kept writing because we thought it was so much fun. It just clicked, very organically and very easily. As well as it working musically, it was just very fun to hang out. I got to know Aluna as we got to know each other musically, too.
How would you describe your music?
Aluna: We still find it very difficult to explain to people what we're doing, because we don't have a genre to compare to, and we were never trying to do anything in particular. We were just making a track, and then another track, and then another. I think we were just trying to do something that we hadn't done before. Generally, there's a good beat going on, good melodies, and a good song structure.
George: I think at the moment we're just trying to match the most interesting music we can make, and having the best song on top of it. Not letting the music overshadow the melody, and just trying to make it interesting to ourselves.
How does the writing/producing get divvied up between the two of you?
Aluna: George does all the production, and I backseat drive sometimes, and I do all the singing and the melody stuff, and George backseat drives that! We're often mixing it up.
George: That's by-and-large how we work, but for 'Your Drums, Your Love' Aluna had the song with different chords and in a different key, and we paired it to a song I had, and started with it again. Sometimes one of us will have a more finished idea.
George: For the aesthetic, it's more Aluna's thing than mine, but we've got to look like what we've got to look like! We kind of want to hold on to that control.
Aluna: I don't make my own clothes, but I have been known to try.
What do you think attracted Friendly Fires to choose you guys?
Aluna: The video, apparently! I guess Ed came across the video somehow, and noticed it was me!
You guys have done remixes for other people, what's it been like having your music remixed?
Aluna: We're always really excited to get remixes back, because it's something we know so well, and something we're almost bored of, so it's a fresh injection of creativity. We're currently tantalised by speak of the Friendly Fires remix. We haven't heard a note yet.
George: When we're able to get hold of someone that we're fans of, and when we get to hear a producer we really like working on our song, it's awesome. We try and get someone who has their own sound, and do something with it that I wouldn't be able to do.
If you could collaborate with anybody other than FF, who would you choose?
Aluna: I would like to play games with Grimes.
George: Maybe Thom Yorke.
What's next for the band?
Aluna: We're going to get our album finished off, and we're going to do a little tour round some places!
George: A little headline tour in November. It's daunting, but hopefully it'll all work out!
Friendly Fires are the latest to remix AlunaGeorge's new single 'Your Drums, Your Love' and it's rather killer at that. The electronic R&B track is given more time and space between heart thudding bass kicks, with the beat still likely to put a crick in your neck. [read more]
Friendly Fires will release their second album, Pala, on May 16th through XL Recordings. The first single from the album will be âLive Those Days Tonightâ, which Zane Lowe will broadcast on Radio 1 tonight. It will be then be available to hear at www.wearefriendlyfires.com. Tracklist 1. Live Those Days Tonight 2. Blue Cassette 3. Running Away 4. Hawaiian Air 5. Hurting 6. Pala 7. Show Me Lights 8. True Love 9. Pull Me back to Earth 10. Chimes 11. Helpless [read more]