Alfie Granger-Howell of Dusky: “We tend to play quite eclectically”


Load up on Red Bull and bring your friends – English house duo Dusky will be playing some seriously lengthy sets on their Australian tour, says DJ Alfie Granger-Howell.

“We have already started our tour in the UK and Europe,” he says. “We’re doing extended sets; about four hours, which gives us the chance to play a lot of different music and new stuff.”

Formed in 2011, the duo rose quickly to play clubs and festivals internationally, including a recent appearance at Glastonbury.

“We hoped that it would kick off and turn into something big,” Granger-Howell says. “At the beginning we were both doing part-time work and other music work. It’s been a while now, but being able to just put our whole lives into Dusky has been pretty amazing, and not something that we really expected. It’s quite a short space of time, but the last three years have been a steady [rise] for us. At the same time, if we look back and think how much has changed for us, it does seem like a short space of time. We had some other music projects before – both producing and deejaying – but for Dusky, it does feel like it’s happened quickly.”

The upcoming Australian shows will give the duo – known for their eclectic tastes – a chance to air an abundance of new material.

“We’ve been playing a few new tracks in the set and people have been getting into the action, which is always good fun. We like to tailor our sets to the crowd’s reactions. Sometimes we’ll play something deeper, something more house or something more techno, depending on what the crowd is reacting to. Either way, we tend to play quite eclectically, so expect a few different styles and genres in the set.”

With an almost unbelievable six EPs already under their belts, expect a follow-up to 2012 debut album Stick By This to be released in the not-too-distant future, albeit after one more EP release.

“We just love the EP format,” Granger-Howell says. “We’ve always just had the music sitting there, so it makes sense to put them out, although we have a few tracks we keep just for our sets. We enjoy getting the music out there, seeing the reaction and letting people listen to it. We just enjoy doing it, and to me it doesn’t seem like a huge amount of music, but I guess when you really look at it, it is a lot. We are aiming to release another album at some point next year, which we have been working on. We began working on it alongside our future EP. It’s probably about halfway there now; we’ve got about six or seven tracks finished, so it’s well on the way.”

With such an eclectic range of music emanating from the mixing desks of two people, it’s certain that they won’t agree on everything, says Granger-Howell.

“We’ve got quite similar tastes but we both listen to stuff outside of dance music that we don’t necessarily share the love of. Looking at my musical background, I’ve been into a lot of classical music and jazz which I don’t think Nick has any affinity to. He listens to some electronica and old soul stuff; I wouldn’t say I hate them, but I wouldn’t listen to them.”




For mX

Lou Rhodes of Lamb: “The mind is a terrible editor”

lamb band

THERE was only one recipe for success when writing the latest Lamb album: keeping things organic.

The English electronic duo’s sixth album, Backspace Unwind, is the band’s second since their 2009 reformation, and singer-songwriter Lou Rhodes says it took her and Andy Barlow to get back to basics to make it happen.

“When we split in 2004, the whole thing was getting very confused,” she says. “I was dying to go off and do more acoustic-based stuff, to the extent that I was trying to pull Lamb in an acoustic direction. At the time, when we wrote Between Darkness and Wonder, we were writing with a full band as well. As a result, that album is quite confused as a Lamb album as it has all these elements pulling in different directions. When we split up, I wrote three solo albums then got back together in 2009 to do Lamb shows and subsequently write 5, [after which] we talked about what Lamb was and where it had gone wrong. The essence of Lamb is basically Andy’s electronica and my song-writing, and the kind of strange dialectic that they do with each other. So, writing a Lamb song is very much of a case of starting from really basic principles like a drum track from Andy or a few simple words from me. We always have to grow [songs] between us, and that’s what makes a Lamb song.”

Formed in 1996, the genre-defying duo may have found a new lease of life with Backspace Unwind, helped by their new, relaxed approached to song-writing and the ability to banish that doubt-instilling inner monologue.

“I was describing this to a journalist the other day,” Rhodes says. “It feels like from the very beginning of the process of writing this album that there was a flow that somehow set into place and we just ran with it. It just feels like that’s kind of continuing now that it’s released. The response has been amazing; people seem to really get the album and it’s really very, very positive. This is our sixth Lamb album, so at the very beginning I had this though in my head, ‘oh shit, what have I got left to write about?’ So I started playing around with free association ways of writing, so rather than thinking about what to write about, I almost got my mind out of the way and it became almost like a meditation. I’d kind of let the thoughts come through me, rather than from my mind, if you can imagine that. The mind is a terrible editor; it’s like ‘no, that’s shit’ or ‘no, that’s great’. It comments. If you do some meditation, you notice your mind kind of commenting on everything, and you’re just like ‘won’t you shut up a minute.’ That was my process with certain songs; ‘Shines Like This’ and ‘In Binary’, which are very much examples of that way of writing, where I just let it flow. As a result, the lyrics are quite abstract in a way.”

An invitation to perform with a Dutch orchestra found the duo more than a little out of their comfort zone.

“We were asked if we would like to play some shows with the Amsterdam Sinfonietta,” Rhodes says. “It’s a world-class orchestra, so how could we refuse? It was a real learning curve for us, as there was quite a communication barrier between our world and theirs. I mean, they are very much a classical setup with recognised boundaries and they like to play what’s on the page, and Lamb is just about the opposite of that – we play almost exactly what’s not on the page. Andy can a bit bolshy at times, so it was a very interesting dynamic, I’ll put it that way.”

A five-date February tour of Australia is locked in, and Rhodes is hoping to go down as well as they have done in these parts in the past.

“We always have an amazing time when we come and play there. We find Australian audiences incredibly open and enthusiastic. Australian music is generally very positive, and when we play live it’s important that we have that amazing connection with the crowd – we certainly seem to get that in Australia. There’s a lot of positivity in Australian people, maybe because it’s a relatively new country in the world; you’re not dragged down by history as much as many of us. We seem to have made a connection there and long may it survive.”


For Scenestr

Record review: Trust – Joyland (2014, LP)


The music project called Trust was formed in 2010 by Canadians Robert Alfons and Maya Postepski, who – having been signed to Toronto’s Arts & Crafts label – put out a 2012 debut album of dark electronica which received a series of good reviews, including a pretty decent one from Pitchfork. Since then, Postepski left to pursue her involvement with electronic trio Austra, leaving Alfons to make Trust’s second album by himself. The result is a twelve song collection that will inspire nothing but an intensely jaw-breaking series of yawns, or perhaps the idea that maybe listening to Nickelback’s latest album isn’t such a bad alternative. There’s no point even analysing each song or pointing out high or low points; the entire record is one big homogeneous dull mess of beeps and blunt clicks that’s the musical equivalent of a spilled tub of yoghurt on a dirty pavement; you’ll have no interest in picking out the less shitty bits. One thing that Joyland achieves and must be admired is its ability to evoke a feeling of such utter indifference to every song; that and its lack of a single shred of memorable musicality in any form whatsoever. I’ve just listened to the full album twice in a row and I can’t remember a single second, other than the feeling that I’d rather be doing possibly anything else in the world other than listening to these songs. Alfons himself describes the album as “an eruption of guts, eels and joy”, but this album is about as joyless as music comes. (Create/Control)

Record review: Elizabeth Rose – Elizabeth Rose (2014, EP)

Sydney producer, singer and synth-twiddler Elizabeth Maniscalco – a.k.a. Elizabeth Rose – has had a pretty stellar last twelve months. With a debut EP, performances at festivals across Australia and North America, and collaborations with the likes of Sinden and Flight Facilities under her diminutive belt, it’s time for the traditionally difficult second record. Luckily it’s something the twenty-three year-old takes in her stride, as this five-track EP is a fine collection of dreamy, layered electro-pop, warm synths, and flashes of R&B and dance spread over a cool twenty-one minutes. In many ways her voice is the most appealing aspect of Maniscalco’s music, as on opener and lead single ‘The Good Life’, which has had plenty of airplay and critical acclaim thus far. Smooth, clean vocals wash over edgy and angular synth sounds on second track ‘Out of Step’, with plenty of echo and reverb thrown in for good measure, before third track ‘Is It Love?’ presents a lighter, more airy vibe. ‘Sensibility’ continues in a similar vein, and final track ‘Only Me’ features Sydney R&B vocalist VCS in a strong finish. This EP – Maniscalco’s second – puts her in a similar bracket to a small group of young Aussie producers and performers (think Flume, Chet Faker etc.) doing plenty of great things with electronic music. Based on this evidence, 2014 should be a pretty good year for Elizabeth Rose. (Inertia)