We caught up with the London-based band Tullamarine, following the release of their stunning latest EP ‘Stratosphere’, enjoy!
What is your earliest music memory?
Joss: My first musical memory is my mother singing to me when I was very young until, one day, I asked her to stop, and that was the end of that. By the age of eight or nine, I remember being aware of my father’s love of classical music, Bruckner in particular. But it was only when my parents informed me – again at around nine years old – that I was going to learn a musical instrument that my world really changed.
I didn’t want to at first, but I didn’t have a choice. It was one of the best decisions my parents ever made, and I started piano lessons. A couple of years later, I went to music school for a few hours each Saturday morning with other kids, and it all went from there. I loved that music school, slightly chaotic as it was. Then onto synths and drum machines…
Adam: One of the earliest memories was being at home on Sunday mornings. This was pretty much the only time that my Dad would play music at home. He was (and still is) a big Santana fan, and I remember him blasting out some of the early Santana albums at a volume that almost certainly would have annoyed the neighbours – frantic Latin rhythms filling my ears on a weekly basis. Maybe that’s where I get my love of techno.
I also remember hearing Jean-Michel Jarre’s Rendez-Vous whilst I away camping with the boy scout; that was a defining moment for me, and it opened the doors electronic music to my young ears. You have to remember that this was way before the Internet, and the only way you would really hear different music at a very young age was by chance.
Who influenced your latest EP release, ‘Stratosphere’?
Tullamarine: This is quite hard to answer as we don’t often sit down and say, well, we want this track to sound like someone specific. Occasionally we do, but then it ends up sounding nothing like them, obviously. In the case of this EP, no one specific comes to mind. It’s a case of us both having made music for many, many years, across electronic genres, so influences seep into you. And any musician subconsciously favours certain sounds/production styles etc.
One of the things we do is try and challenge one another to do the opposite of what the other would normally do. That doesn’t always work, but it can work gloriously. And we have already made two albums as Tullamarine before this (Code and And So We Followed Her Blindly Into The Sun), which sound different to one another and different to this EP; different to our forthcoming album Frequency too.
‘Stratosphere’ is taken from the soon-to-be-released album ‘Frequency’, can you tell us a bit more about the forthcoming release?
Tullamarine: We’re very excited about ‘Frequency’. It’s taken a lot of effort, time and consideration to complete it, which we’re just doing now. It’s a mix of quite a few different genres, and one of the challenges has been to make it work together with all the way through.
As a result, it’s the album that we think is our most ‘together’. It ranges from ambient through to clubbier productions with nods to minimalism along the way – think Steve Reich or Philip Glass. And there are some almost pop moments too. It is who we are.
‘Stratosphere’ is an electronic release; how do you think the genre has evolved over the last decade?
Tullamarine: That’s a good question. One thing that’s clear is the sheer amount of electronic music out there, which can make it hard to keep up or to find the really good stuff. It takes time.
The average level of production has continued to rise, courtesy of modern technology, but there’s a danger in that as it does tend to mean that a lot of music ends up sharing the same production and overall tonal quality. But that same technology, particularly soft synth versions of old analogue tech – Arturia’s Moog synths are a great example – are truly outstanding.
For us, analogue warmth is crucial. But the audio tools now available are fantastic too. At the end of the day, we are musicians, and we should control the output, not be governed by the last whizz-bang technology.
Together, you are a formidable duo, how does the writing process evolve between the two of you?
Tullamarine: It’s evolved a lot since we started working together five or so years ago (we’ve known each other for more than 20 years). Dropbox is our friend as we work remotely in two separate studios. We have tried working in the same studio together, but it just doesn’t work. I think as we are friends more than just workmates, we’re just too honest with each other and precious about our own ideas – because we can be.
As a result, we debate everything, and nothing ever gets done. Working remotely works for us, as it’s instant sharing as we can pick up immediately where the other has left off. We use probably a 50/50 mix of audio and synths across Frequency. There’s no one approach: sometimes it starts with a few drum loops; sometimes a motif; sometimes a set of chords. Some tracks we don’t share with each other until they are quite fully formed; others are shared very, very early on.
Each track has a life of its own. But the main thing is not to be too egotistical about a track (although there are times we reserve the right to veto the other’s changes, but that’s quite rare). Tracks either tend to take a few hours to get fundamentally correct. Others can take months. Often tracks end up sounding nothing like the way they started out.
‘Monochrome’ is a superb track off of the latest EP, we see it has its own official music video to accompany the release. How did the video idea come about?
Tullamarine: Thank you. We work with Melanie Christine Amengual (melanie-christine.com) for all our design work. We were very happy for her to take the lead with the video for Monochrome.
We agreed on black and white and that 8mm/16mm sensibility, and she suggested an early David Lynch film kind of feel with a touch of Boards of Canada’s videos too. She took the rhythm of the track and use that to create the movement in the video. We’re very pleased that people like it. It works really well.
Who would you most like to collaborate with?
Tullamarine: That’s another good question. Anyone who wants to collaborate with us! Big fans of artists like Daniel Avery, Rival Consoles and Four Tet. Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs too.
We are always open to suggestions and would love to work on a collaboration or remix. We’d love to work with more club producers too, people at the more techno end of the spectrum like Happa and Boddika.
What changes would you like to see in the music business?
Tullamarine: The return of proper, old school record shops. But that might be showing our age a bit. And fewer DJs using too much tech when mixing. Or, rather, being lazy in their use of it.
Also, and this seems to be happening already, the ability for producers to earn a living releasing the music they want to release without the pressures from the bigger labels to commit to a particular genre or style.
What is your favourite song to play live?
Tullamarine: We don’t (yet?) play live, but it’s something that may come in the future. Being honest, we’ve been so busy producing it’s not something we’ve discussed a great deal at this stage.
Have you started working on your next release?
Tullamarine: We are just putting the finishing touches to our forthcoming album Frequency. We have let it be for a little while to regain some objectivity, but it’s very close now to being finished. We have been working on a lot of other ideas in the meantime, some more club-based and some more classically influenced, so it’s looking like a busy 2021. Watch this space!
FV Music Blog October 2020
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