Dirty Beaches is the musical project of Alex Hungtai. He creates a musical scope that paints a picture of washed out coasts and endless romantic highways at dusk but also somehow manages to interlace some slightly unnerving feelings of restlessness in there too. It’s as if the music is constantly moving, just like the man himself. We caught up with Alex for a quick chat to discuss the road, live shows and influences.
You’ve been compared to Suicide on VICE, which is pretty cool. I think this is especially evident on track Coast to Coast. Do you think it’s a fair comparison to make?
I think its definitely fair, it is only natural for people to compare because it helps them understand something when they can’t. It’s an honor to be compared to Suicide. The necessity of working alone or with budget cheap equipment lead all of us out there by circumstance, and that similarity in path. Like many others out there like me or before me, since 2005 I’ve been playing alone with tape players, ipods, drum machines as backing tracks, and it doesn’t always work out but you do your best with the cards you’ve been dealt with and blaze right through it all, good or bad. And I think that spirit is inherited in me and other musicians of this generation. We just do what we do.
Your voice reminds me of Jim Morrison, in his most twisted, acid induced frenzied stage, do you think you’d enjoy going into the desert?
I think that depends what the journey entails . No, I do love the desert. Have driven through it many times now through the heartland of America.
I love the concept behind Badlands, it’s like a cult novel Jack Kerouac never wrote. It shows you think about your music a great deal more than most bands. What do you think is the most important part of creating music?
I think I’m gonna quote Jim Jarmusch on this one, I’ve always lived by this rule since 10 years ago when I got my first sampler:
“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery – celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.”
Your songs capture a love for being on the road, what is it about the road you love so much?
I grew up in many different random cities that have no correlation to one another due to circumstances involving family matters, but I think that residual impact is left within me. I have a hard time staying in the same place for over 3 years, I tend to leave after that. The road takes care of that for me. And you meet the most amazing, interesting, hospitable people to the most rotten, evil piece of shit on earth. You never know who you will encounter on the road. All your support systems are cut off and far away from you. But that’s been pretty much my whole life, since I was a kid, kick starting over and over again each time I move to a new city. Maybe the road exorcises all that shit away from me.
I haven’t been lucky enough to see you live, but what can an audience expect from your shows?
The live show set ups are always changing and evolving, I’ve done most tours on borrowed equipment from each city, so its different each night. But hopefully in the future I will be able to bring my trustworthy Solid State Ace Tone amplifier with me on the road so people can hear the sound I recorded with. Most of the fans I’ve spoken with over the past 4 years are the ones who know that I make weird music and score independent film productions, and I will continue in these ventures possibly until I die. If I don’t write another True Blue, it will be ok because even if I perform a drone noise set in the future, I know there will always be 10 or 20 people there to support me like they have over the past 4 years. LIVE, LOVE, DRIVE. Don’t lose the romance.
Listen to the man himself with Golden Desert Sun, below:
Dirty Beaches – Golden Desert Sun
Kid Adrift: A4 in ecstasy
Kid Adrift has been receiving good praise this year having released his debut EP Oxytoncin in the summer and last week saw the release Kid Adrift’s latest single A4 in Ecstasy. FST caught up with the mastermind behind the music Iain Campbell.
Your music combines elements of rock and of electronic, and you have been compared to early Muse and Radiohead in the press. Do you think this is a fair comparison, and do you count these bands as influences?
We all grew up listening to both bands as kids, so it has influenced us definitely but I think Muse have the monopoly on augmented classical harmony at the moment! I guess if anything our new stuff will be seen as dirty pop.
The video for Oxytocin is cool. It’s a pretty terrifying yet funny idea to have a Japanese girl on a murderous rampage with a Hello Kitty chainsaw. Was it all High Contrast’s idea or did you have an input into it too?
This was really exciting, Lincoln (High Contrast) had been playing Red, Green and Blue our first single on Radio 1 when he stood in for Rob da Bank. He got into our songs and literally wrote about 4 different video ideas for them just for fun, we were completely taken aback. Then Island got behind it and made it happen. We knew Lincoln had a strong vision for the video so we gave him free reign and he went Tarantino on it!
When did you start to create music?
Nico (drums) and I have played together since we were in school in our teen angst phase spending most nights chasing the latest metal bands online to see what game they had to bring. So I guess you could argue that is was back then. Although as individuals we have all been writing music in our own time way before we even began to combine our efforts together. . For the last year, since we have been working as a group, we have found a whole load of useful ways of writing more and more and bringing together all the various elements of our separate influences of when we were younger. It’s amazing to see how those personal ideas we had years ago have been completely sieved through the kid adrift machine to what they are now.
Did growing up in a remote part of Scotland inspire you to write songs?
It’s beautiful up there, I lived in a little village on the side of the Ochils hills with a castle and the most insane sunsets you’ve ever seen. The sun would set behind the hills leaving everything pitch black except the sky which would be bright red. Robert Burns the Scottish poet used to go there to write because of this phenomenon. I was pretty reclusive when I lived up in Clackmannanshire and I don’t think many people understood when I disappeared to write music. Now a lot of my friends are like “Ahh so that’s what you were up to”.
Having worked with High Contrast you must be familiar with the UK dubstep scene, do you have any favourite electronic/dubstep acts around at the moment?
When we first moved to london we met a guy named “Kulture” who is an upcoming dubstep DJ who was one of the people who first put us onto the dubstep scene. Too many late nights with that guy going further down the rabbit hole of sub bass and crazy synth sounds. I think there are so many amazing electronic music artists around at the moment – most impressively guys who bring a real emotion and heart to electronic composition. With electronic music its very easy for it to sound cold or disconnected, but there is some stunning and interesting music being made by people like Burial and Jon Hopkins for example. Then at the other end of the scale you have dubstep artists such as Akira Kiteshi and Noisia who are basically just making the heaviest music, bringing grooves and aggression the like of which we’re use to associating with Metal.
What does 2011 hold for Kid Adrift?
We’ve got an album we’re finishing off at the moment which will be out in the early part of next year. We’re locked away in our studio in london, getting serious cabin fever and creating some crazy stuff in the process. Then we’ll start touring starting with the Q Magazine party in January and Eurosonics in Holland. All 4 of us are ready to vent some pent up energy – Pete is like a caged animal. If there wasn’t keyboards in the way, I think he might kill a man…
Futuresoundstemporary were at the Happy Birthday show at the Bodega Social Club in Nottingham on Monday, and while we were there we managed to catch a short and sharp interview with Kyle from the band. Unfortunately the band were due on shortly before we conducted the interview so it was only a quick exchange, just enough for them to tell us about their music, their art and their love of Nottingham History.
FST: It’s kind of hard to find information about you on the internet, when you type in Happy Birthday you just get the song. Why did you name your band Happy Birthday?
Kyle: It just fitted the best. It seemed like the weirdest thing to name the band because first of all it was weird there wasn’t a band named that already, and it’s like a saying that everybody knows, a song everybody knows and it just seemed interesting, different to the other band names that we thought of.
FST: What else did you consider?
Kyle: You don’t want to know.
FST: I noticed that you guys are into your artwork. Is that something that is just a hobby or do you take it as seriously as your music?
Kyle: I’ve definitely always been an artist, I do a lot of art with my brother, and also Ruth is an artist, and Chris.
FST: Ruth’s stuff is real good.
Kyle: Yeah, she did a horrible portrait of me today where I look really mean but it’s really good, it looks really real. But yeah, art is really important to me, I tend to focus more on the music because you can’t really perform artwork live… I could but it’d be a bit… weird. But I guess I’m always looking for ways to combine the two. But I think when I get older; I’ll definitely focus more on the artwork. Like I’ve always thought I’ll be an old man just oil painting…drunk.
FST: You’re on Sub Pop Records which is pretty cool. How did they approach you?
Kyle: I made another album before this one, a solo album called King Tuff, some people at the label had that album and I played one show at SXSW and they came to it because they liked the record and I was like, you should put out my new band. But props to them because they didn’t even hear it before, they just liked it.
FST: They had such faith in you. Do you have a favourite fellow Sub Pop band?
Kyle: Right now? I actually like a lot of the bands. I like that Beach House album, I like No Age a lot and Male Bonding. I like a lot of the stuff they’re putting out. They kind of like a Renaissance label. I don’t know, I guess I didn’t really listen to a lot of the stuff they put out in the early 2000s.
FST: Ok well thank you, I don’t want to keep you for too long.
Kyle: That’s it?
FST: I don’t want to keep you; you have a show to play!
Kyle: What’s the interview for?
FST: A music blog called futuresoundstemporary.
Kyle: Oh cool. Do you live here?
FST: I live in Leicester, it’s like the next city.
Kyle: With the Sex Beet guys?
FST: Yeah they’re from Leicester, you toured with them right?
Kyle: We played with them in New York. I like those guys. We always tell the one guy he looks like Jodie Foster. Don’t record that!
FST: I won’t quote that, promise.
Kyle: Do you think Robin Hood is real?
FST: Yeah. I buy into that.
Kyle: We went to that old bar, it’s built into a cave, we just came from there, it was awesome. We wanted to go to Sherwood forest in search of Robin though.
FST: Thanks again.
Here are their respective blogs, and the other places that you can find their work.
Sex Beet: Full Response
Slightly more fluent and jocular than FST’s previous attempt at gathering interesting information from a band (see Harlem); Sex Beet have provided the goods. Here we speak to guitarist and vocalist Luke Reilly about sounds, records, Hunx and His Punx and other shit we remembered to ask him. Gratefully he replied. I wouldn’t. Read on.
FST: You come from Leicester, which is fucking cool, because literally no one who comes from Leicester has ever done anything cool. Is this statement true or false? If false, examples please?
Sex Beet: That’s pretty much true, I can’t really argue with that to be honest. The only good band from Leicester before we left was The Dirty Backbeats, it’s a shame they stopped playing.
FST: How much did you enjoy your Nottingham show with Hunx and his Punk? I imagine that they are as far removed from Leicester life (and to a much lesser extent London life) as you can get. Hunx looks to me like one great raging ball of testosterone wrestling with being a truly inhuman orgy of avarice stuck rather awkwardly in a mortal’s body.
Sex Beet: Hunx was a fucking character. The first thing he asked us when we met was “what are our chances of hooking up?” He had a huge crush on our keyboard player William actually, and they email each other songs still, it’s all pretty cute. In fact our new 7″ which is getting released today has this really shit song on it, “Homopunk,” which is about Hunx.
FST: I love the dirty sound of your records, they all have this wonderful droning clatter of noise as it swims in that organ squeal; though it still manages to retain that surf pop sound. Most peculiarly that surf sound finds itself in music as incongruous as Washed Out or Best Coast, what do you think it is that binds these sounds together?
Sex Beet: I’m pretty high right now, I have literally no idea what this question even means. I have a £9.99 echo pedal, that’s why some of our songs sound a bit surfy. Maybe that’s the answer you were looking for. We never aimed to be a surf band really, but it’s not a problem. Best Coast rules BTW, I’m really looking forward to her full record.
FST: You’ve recently been touring with Strange Boys, who have risen from Austin’s garage rock scene along with Harlem, who FST recently interviewed and inspired this feature thanks to their short answers. Are Strange Boys they as strange as their name suggests?
Sex Beet: Yeah they are pretty strange, but I love them. Ever since I heard their first record they’ve been one of my favourite bands, so to have them email us asking if we would be interested in touring with them was really cool. The tour ended two days ago and I miss them already.
FST: You have a new EP coming out with The Castilians, which we are looking forward to. Whats next for Sex Beet? Anymore releases lined-up?
We’re on a few compilations coming out over summer, I can’t remember what they are though. One is on Fierce Panda which is cool though. We’re not playing too many shows for the rest of the summer, but we’re off to Sweden in a couple of weeks to play a festival, we’re pretty excited about that, our boyfriends Lovvers are playing too, also The Strange Boys, it’s going to be one hell of a party. Then in September we’re recording our first album. Then probably signing that over to a huge faceless company for $$$$$$$$$$$, so I never have to work in a mexican restaurant ever again.
All that remains is to pour rapture over their most accomodating replies and then send a round of applause around the world. Below is the superb and rather mischeviously funny video to She Don’t Surf, as well as their one remaining tour date – don’t worry we’ll let you know when more come about.
30th July – WWDIS Summer Weekend Festival , Stockholm
Harlem: Short Questions to Long Answers
While it is evidently obvious that we enjoy the globetrotting band Harlem, we enjoy also enjoy concise answers to interview questions that air a certain brevity onto the page – forthright I believe it is called – for it is orderly and spacious and among other things does not take up too much time to read. So when both things collude it is indeed a very special day for us. With that in mind I alight you to the below Q and A session between ourselves and Harlem, currently doing a short tour, with brevity may I add, of Britain:
FST: Hi, how are you?
FST: With 2008’s Free Drugs Harlem we’re within a much tighter lo-fi Austin scene, as catalogued by Matador’s Casual Victim Pile compilation, now, post-Hippies, Harlem have entered a wider global scene, how have you seen the band progress since those early Austin days, personally or in terms of sound?
Harlem: I don’t have a house anymore and I get to miss hot Austin summers.
FST: Futuresoundstemporary have been to SxSw, and um, let’s say it’s pretty interesting. What’s it like living in Austin surrounded by the madness of SxSw?
Harlem: It’s only a week out of the year. The rest of the year is mostly just american football fans running around hollering and wearing ugly orange sweaters.
FST: Are you taking well to touring in the UK? Is it as interesting and quaint as you imagined or something quite different to what you expected?
Harlem: Yesterday we drove into Newcastle while a fanfarey bit of a Kinks song played on the radio and it was quaint as hell.
FST: Ariel Pink’s new album Before Today is a distinct move away from his previous lo-fi recordings into something altogether more polished. Was the recording of Hippies conscious in its choice of lo-fi sound? Was there ever the option to hit the high-production button?
Harlem: We’re not allowed to push the Ariel Pink Button until the fourth album.
FST: What are the plans for Harlem for the rest of the year?
Harlem: Lots of driving. I’m trying to start eating more candy.
And with that, concludes the short, short interview. Frankly the abridged answers made it funny as hell. So much with music journalism pompery or rock-star hyperbole. Sweet. Below are the two final dates you can catch them on, also try and get hold of Hippies too, it’s very nice.
16th June, The Corner, Manchester
17th June, Spanky Van Dykes, Nottingham