Analog oblivion, digital climax, audiovisual hedonism. Gabe Gurnsey and Nik Colk Void, -or if you prefer-, Factory Floor are among the most striking names in the exceptional James Murphy’s (LCD Soundsystem) label DFA Records. With the latest ’25-25′ they managed to explain the hype round their name, and keep up, quality-wise, with their self-titled predecessor. For those who suffer from technophobia, Factory Floor is not your cup of tea. The rest can sit back and rejoice the interview with Nik. Ya!
Since forming back in 2008, in what way do you think that Factory Floor has progressed? In other words form your initial ‘Bipolar’ single to 2016’s ‘25-25’ which would you point out as the main differences, sound-wise?
I joined in 2010, this was after ‘Bipolar’ – but it was ‘Bipolar’ 7” that brought my attention to Factory Floor. Gabe, Dom and Marks sound was post punk, Joy Division, touch of The Fall – discordant and brash. The set up was guitar, drums and bass. When I joined I played guitar and used extended techniques with bows and sticks to create more rhythm. Dom introduced the SH101 and began to use sequences, Gabe introduced more drum machines – so the sound was slowly morphing into dance music made with acoustic and electronic instruments. Live this was very exciting. I took on the vocals – these became more processed influenced by house and experimental production. The song structures naturally became more sound scape than verse – chorus as we improvised a lot live. Nailing our tracks down into recordings has always been the hardest part. Our recording out-put has been a learning curve, and we welcome this part of making records, we try everything possible to experiment and learn in the studio. Our studio practice has been structured close to the live experience as possible. We find buildings that can accommodate a loud PA and track our tracks directly then edit after. These tracks are often not laboured over before recording, we try to record in as soon as an idea hits us to keep the feel fresh. ‘25-25’ has retained the minimal existence of Factory Floor sound – behaves more linear and I think braver than ‘Factory Floor’ self-titled first record. Factory Floor is now a two piece, Gabe and myself – so we no longer occupy the space of three. It is more electronic and modular synth based letting the machines move us into unassuming directions.
You have been characterized as a post-industrial band since your early days. Do you believe that this description suits you best then?
It depends on how you define industrial. Industrial to me means doing things your own way – which we defiantly have stuck to. Setting up practice in an industrial environment – this to we have stuck to. I also work with Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti who pioneered the term industrial. They define the word industrial in a similar way. It can get confused with the genre industrial, which I’m not sure we are too much to do with other than we enjoy noise and use reverb. But, Nine Inch Nails we are not.
Regarding ‘25-25’ were you satisfied by its reception? Not an easy task after your immaculate, self-tilted breakthrough album, I guess. Please discuss, how stressful was(?) to write the successor of ‘Factory Floor’?
Oh wow ‘immaculate’ thank you! It was slightly stressful personally as I had to take on a slightly different role, which I’m not afraid to do, in fact this is what excites me taking on new ways of working – but I did say to myself I would not read the reviews to protect my creativity. Then I did see a couple of reviews and I was overwhelmed and so happy to see that reviewers got it – they liked the fact we had moved on and perhaps it’s not as accessible as our debut and there is not so much hype surrounding it as it’s our second release (which I’ve been told are always hard), but it seemed to hit the right spot! Energizing, trying to create something pure against this saturated world we live in.
Continuing on your latest release, I can listen to strong Yello along with acid house influences. Which “sounds” have mostly influenced you for ‘25-25’?
Chicago house, acid house, the equipment played a huge part in colouring the sound of the record, 808’s, 909 clones, Make Noise and Tip top Audio to mention a few, plus along side the people we meet – Nicolas Becker, Foley artist from Paris, the artist Haroon Mirza – the way visual artists see the world and translate this into their art gives inspiration, fashion and sports also.
Having a look at you Facebook wall, I found out that you ‘have been commissioned to write and perform a live Factory Floor score to Fritz Lang’s 1927 sci-fi masterpiece “Metropolis” at London’s Science Museum on 28th April 2017. You also feel really excited about it! Are you Fritz Lang fans, or sci-fi movies’ fans in general?
I am not so much a sci-fi fan, I have however been so longing to do a live soundtrack. I saw “Metropolis” at school in drama class, it just seems the perfect fit, especially with our use of euro rack and sequences. Very much looking forward to the preparation this month.
Would you like to discuss about the visually exceptional ‘Wave’ video that was directed by Gabe? How important are visuals to the Factory Floor’s art?
Our video budgets are extremely low – but this is ok, it just means we have to think harder. We direct and make our own videos because it gives us chances to develop our visual interpretation of the tracks – which often happen when first making them. Plus has been a significant colour for this release, so like ‘Ya’ and ‘Wave’ this was the starting point.
I will mention some names now. Joy Division, Stephen Morris, Blast First Petite, DFA Records. Which are the first words that come to your mind about the aforementioned?
Joy Division – Stephen Morris, the human drum machine.
Stephen Morris – Real Love, he turned up at a studio we found in the country side with a box full of mics and processors. We met via Paul Smith sending him a 10” of ‘Untitled’ address to STEPHEN MORRIS, MACCLESFIELD on the envelope – and that was it! Somehow he received it. He must have a friendly post man.
Blast First Petite – My once mentor Paul Smith runs this label. He was our first manager, he put out ‘Untitled’ and organised our release with Optimo and working with Stephen Morris. DFA Records – Fun times! NYC, Jonathan Galkin and Kris Peterson. A great team to work with! Jonathan mysteriously landed a demo of ‘Two Different Ways’ and offered us a deal there and then.
Apart from Factory Floor, are you involved with any other side-projects this period?
Gabe has his solo work, he is currently working on a full length record, I’m sure details will come out soon. I am still heavily into collaborating, I had a show with Swedish noise artist Klara Lewis at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall a few days ago – playing with Carter Tutti Void celebrating COUM Transmissions at Hull City Of Culture in March, and Shoreditch Festival in December. Gabe and I are currently planning our next record – we have two tracks to date, again a difference in sound – all will be revealed. We are also starting a label with Nicolas Becker and a bunch of like minded artists who we met during our involvement at Tate Modern during the Phillipe Perreno Turbine Hall installation. This will provide a platform for more experimental collaborative and visual art combinations. Very exciting!
Feel free to add anything you like and you haven’t been asked…
Thank you Christos! You have the same name as my Dad who was born in Greece!