To coincide with the release of their debut album, Bicep joined us at Phonica for a special in-store DJ set on Thursday 31st August.
Nine years since they launched their Feel My Bicep blog, the London-via-Belfast duo have asserted themselves as continual favourites with dancers and DJs alike. Their recent turn towards a more lush and synth heavy sound attracted the attention of influential record label Ninja Tune, who released the duos twelve track, debut LP on September 1st.
Hey Andy, hey Matt, How are you guys doing? The last 12 months have been extremely busy for you two, with the live show, Dj sets and album, how has it been coping with the madness which ensues from all of this?
We are good, it was probably hardest when we were spinning all the plates, touring non-stop with DJ gigs, trying to find a label for the album and actually having time in the studio when we weren’t drained or braindead. Since all this has kind of fallen into place we are focusing all our energy into the live shows and the rest of the DJ shows we have this year, taking a few months away from the studio. It’s a bit more manageable and easier to cope when a lot is in place and you can put your mind on one thing.
We understand that you guys focus around using found sounds, raw recordings and analogue equipment. Do you find that working with the equipment that you guys own has expanded your ability, experimentation and workflow in the studio?
Yeah, ability, experimentation and workflow have all massively improved from the days when we would watch each-other push blocks around a screen.
You must have racked up some great bits of studio equipment over the years. Are there any pieces which have stood out for you guys when producing the album?
There is stuff like the Waldorf Microwave, Alesis Andromeda and the Roland SH101which we used quite a bit. But overall we used a pretty big range and used a lot of different bits from the studio, on some occasions experimenting with up to 4 different mono-synths to re-do a bassline to see which worked best. If we ever used the Juno-60, we would never record it raw, it would always go through 2/3 guitar pedals. The different chain of pedals changed on a daily basis, sometimes we would incorporate the eurorack effects in there too.
Are there any specific records that you have collected over the years which have played an important influence on the album?
Umm don’t know, nothing really directly as an influence but loved Skepta – Konnichiwa, Burial – Untrue and Aphex – Syro over the past few years and those a few that immediately spring to mind.
Understandably you guys have a great connection on stage. What have been the advantages of being a duo when it comes to producing, playing and touring?
You can split the work when it comes to digging and finding sources of inspiration, it helps when one brings in a sample or something fresh when producing. At the same time, we share similar taste so digging is more fun as you can work together.
With great success since the beginning of Bicep, how do you guys manage to stay on top, with touring the world, running your blog and at the same time producing new music?
We spent less time producing in the early days, with most time spent in an office banging out blog posts at any chance we could get. When we both quit full-time employment was when we could actually dedicate time and money to our production, but it took a while to get to that level. Touring has been pretty constant from the early days and we have been used to playing most weekends for the past 7 years, but we really make an effort to get back in the studio first thing on a Monday and work all week.
Are there any venues, past or present, any era, which you would have loved to take the live show to?
Can’t speak much for the past especially for places we have never been. The only one that is no longer and comes to mind is the ‘We Love” party at Space, this would have been great to play the live show there. This was always a party in it’s purest sense, by the end of the years playing there we knew all the DJs that played week in and out, it was a proper family. In the next few years we really want to think outside the box and do some live shows in places we feel suit the music but not what most people would suspect.
You guys have travelled all over in recent times with you DJ sets and live show. Over the last few years, have there been any cities or locations which have really inspired you to develop your sound into the place it is now?
We’ve really got into the Futurist art movement led by the likes of Dupero, it’s amazing how they would paint their vision of the world in the 1920s. Japan is an overall inspirational place, for Futurist thinking it has to be one of the best places. Even though a lot of the city feels old it still feels futuristic at the same time. Same with the mid century architecture in America by John Lautner. It’s a hard thing to pin down and get right but when it’s done well it is amazing. You get the same feeling when you look at the Trellic Tower, it’s not hard to imagine that as part of a Blade Runner set.
What are your current top 5 releases?
Feel My Bicep/Bicep has turned into an iconic brand, with being a record label, holding club nights and producing and releasing music. What’s the next step for Bicep?
Think we are going to keep developing the live show for the next year, we really want to take it to the next level in terms of production and sound. After that we will look ahead to album part deux.
Thank you guys!