What inspired you to first start making music? And how did you come to be in your current incarnation? Or if you prefer, a brief bio about you.
LB: One day when I was about 7 years old I was singing to myself, as kids do, and realised that I’d just written a song. I remember thinking “I have to try really, really hard to remember this”, and forgot it about 5 minutes later. I’ve kept writing songs since then, but it was a lesson to always write things down or record them.
CS: I started much later – I didn’t write or play any music at all until I was about 23 or 24. I was at art school, learning about Fluxus, Dick Higgins, Allison Knowles, George Brecht and all that, which gave me the idea that music could be anything, made by anyone, and that it was easy to do. I’m not sure if this is actually true, but it was a useful thing to believe for the first few years, and definitely got me started.
As for our current incarnation, I’d say it’s a combination of the two – Lani’s ability to compose and write songs, and my feeling that music can be anything, and can come from anywhere. That’s really how Ducks! got started.
Provide us with some info about your latest release…
CS: It’s called ‘Pinprick In’, an indie-disco style track with lots of noisy percussion and a really weird and wonderful bass sound. I especially like the sound of Lani’s vocals, they remind me a bit of Kylie Minogue, around the time of ‘Slow’ or ‘Come into my world’.
LB: That’s what I was going for! The track actually started its life as a remix for our friend Joel Sarakula. It didn’t get used for whatever reason, so we got to repurpose its parts (we’re a waste nothing kinda band) and this is the outcome. When we recorded the vocals we’d just been talking about the Moulin Rouge, so the lyrics are about the power of sexuality and performance.
Which ones would you consider your main influences both music-wise & non-music-wise?
LB: For the album that’s coming out next year it’s been all about late 90s and early 2000’s house music; Basement Jaxx, Moloko, ‘It’s Yours’ by John Cutler and E-Man. As for non-musical influences, in general I tend to write about environments and distances a lot. But ‘Pinprick In’ was influenced in equal parts by champagne, butts and Kylie Minogue.
CS: Susan Sontag, for showing me that ‘content’ is not the big deal everybody thinks it is. And all the artists Lani mentioned, for proving that it’s true.
In what way does your sound differ from the rest genre-related artists/bands and why should we listen to your music? In other words, how would you describe your sound?
CS: I would describe our sound as Modernist Disco. It wants to make you dance, but it also has other ambitions, and looks to the future.
LB: It’s luxurious and dirty at the same time. There’s almost always casio keyboard and lots of harmonies.
Please name your 3 desert islands albums, movies & books…
LB: I can’t imagine ever getting sick of Frank Ocean ‘Channel Orange’, Massive Attack ‘Heligoland’, and St Vincent ‘Actor’.
CS: Mouse on Mars ‘Dimensional People’, Joni Mitchell ‘Hissing of Summer Lawns’, Avalanches ‘Since I Left You’, because I don’t understand how any of them work, and feel like I could happily spend the rest of my life trying to figure it out.
LB: I suck at this question. Gonna go full old Disney for the orchestration. Alice In Wonderland, Bambi and Snow White.
CS: ‘Mulholland Drive’, ‘The Apartment’, ‘Ed Wood’.
LB: Margaret Atwood ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’, the single book edition of Octavia Butler’s ‘Xenogenesis’ trilogy, Haruki Murakami ‘Kafka on the Shore’
CS: Susan Sontag ‘Against Interpretation’, Hannah Arendt ‘The Human Condition’, Gertrude Stein ‘The World is Round’.
Do you prefer studio or performing live and why?
LB: Don’t make me choose! I love experimenting in the studio – I feel like I’ve really grown as a musician, songwriter, singer and producer because the way we work is so ‘anything goes’. But I also love nothing more than seeing people dancing to our music, I adore colourful costumes and dancing like a weirdo onstage.
CS: Studio, for sure. I can never really figure out what people like to listen to, so making music is much easier for me if they’re not there and we don’t have to think about it too much.
Is there any funny-unique story you would like to share with us, always in relation to your music ‘career’?
LB: Last year we spent a month in Malta as artists in residence at a contemporary art gallery called Blitz. Craig has a tendency to get super involved in work and not even think to do anything else, but I wanted to go to the beach as well as work, so I had to invent reasons to get him out of the gallery. One of these excuses was finding and recording a Maltese bird called a Merril that nests in cliffs by the shore. So we went for a nice long cliff walk with many beach breaks. We didn’t get a very good recording of the Merril, but we did record a bush full of bees that appears on the album.
CS: The bees were great! And the beach was nice too.
Which track of your own would you point out as the most unique and why?
CS: ‘Top Horse’ is a bit of an experiment in lots of ways, but mostly because we approached the vocals quite differently. We recorded them in a workshop in Malta, with lots of different people who’d come along to the session saying short phrases, all something to do with a ‘top horse’ who may or may not be in a bathtub. So the lead vocals in the song are kind of like found objects, or samples.
Would you like to share with our readers your future plans?
LB: Our new album ‘Things That Were Lost’ will come out in early 2019, and we just finished mixing two ‘Walkmix’ collabs with TV Heads and Maya Shenfeld for Ableton Loop in LA in November. They’re soundtracks for people to listen to when they’re walking around Hollywood.
CS: We’ve also been working on some projects with a group of Berlin-based musicians, including Ori Moto, Vacant Lake and Yvois. It’s a multi-headed hydra born from a couple of years’ worth of late nights, beat-making retreats and spontaneous remixing competitions.
Free question!!! (Ask yourself a question) you wish to answer and haven’t been given the opportunity…
What role do words play in the music of Ducks! and how has it changed?
LB: When we first started making music together I still had a very pop lyrical mindset – the words I wrote were all about relationships and circumstances. Now the inspiration is much more abstract and I’m more experimental with both the words themselves and the way they’re expressed vocally. ‘Pinprick In’ is a perfect example of this, because it’s pure, unedited stream of consciousness, but I feel like it conveys the concept of performance and sexuality perfectly.
Photo credits: Harriet Richardson
Curated by: Christos Doukakis
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