1st Nov 2012 2:30am | By Hugh Radojev
One half of celebrated Aussie electro-pop duo, Xavier Bacash, talks to us about the band's new album, The Late Blue, leaving Sony to start their own label and making music for the cows of the sea
The new album is less full of singles than the last, was that deliberate?
Yeah, I think the kind of thing we’re doing now is what we always wanted to do. The first record was really ghostwritten for films, it wasn’t necessarily written to be released as part of a band. We toured it a lot obviously but by the end I couldn’t really relate to it [Gilgamesh] anymore and nor could Lionel. I guess we just both needed a change. So I guess part of it was conscious, but another part of it was just what we’ve always wanted to do.
Was the songwriting process much different back then?
Yeah, because I think we sort of rushed through the last record in a sense. Everything on that record was programmed and now everything is live. We’ve obviously played live a lot in the last two years and that had an effect on the way we came to write the new record as well.
You guys originally met as DJs in Melbourne?
Yeah, I mean not like serious DJs, that kind of thing got blown out of proportion a little bit in the early days of the press interviews. We just played at the same club together and met there.
Initial reactions to the new album have been good, is that a relief?
Well yeah, I think a couple of people literally previewed thirty seconds of our new songs on iTunes and hated it, wanted another Jona Vark or whatever and I guess those are the kinds of fans we can afford to lose. If they don’t want to listen to the record that’s fair enough but we didn’t want to make the same kind of album as Gilgamesh. Lots of reviewers are getting it, because they listen to it intently, I don’t think it’s a record you can just skim over, you have to listen to all of it.
So you can’t relate to anything from the first album now?
There are some good tunes on that record, but they’re surrounded by pop. I don’t hate Jona Vark, I’m quite grateful to that song in a way but yeah, most of the others I have a really tough time listening to.
You’ve used the word 'pop' in quite a negative way there, the new album’s still quite poppy...
The songs are supposed to be euphoric and dreamy but at the same time it’s pretty tough, with the live drums and stuff. I guess when I say pop I mean it’s not like Rihanna or anything.
How was working with producer David Fridmann?
We‘d never really sat in a studio with someone, so it’s really good to have someone help us make our choices. It’s important having another person’s ear on things. When you’re recording there are obviously a lot of sounds going on and it was interesting to hear his perspective of things. He was absolutely integral in drawing it out, making it as good as it could be. He helped toughen the shit out of a lot of stuff as well.
Why did you leave Sony?
At the end of the cycle for the last album the guy who signed us for Sony got fired, then they replaced him with someone else who we got on alright with, but then he got fired as well. It just got to the point where we couldn’t get money for the video clip for Jona Vark, everything just came way too late. Like we were booked for Lollapalooza and Coachella, these huge international music festivals and they wouldn’t even pay for us to go over there. It was preposterous that a label would deny a band those opportunities. So it got to the point where it was like, no way.
Have you guys had a chance to play the new songs live yet?
Well at Splendour in the Grass this year we played four of the new songs, but we’ve not played all of them. Yeah, it’s going to be interesting.
Do they sound bigger live?
Yeah, because of the last record being all programmed we maybe didn’t get great dynamic on stage, as much light and shade within the songs themselves. With live drums, you can really get that dynamic happening.
Are you going to take up the offer to make music for Sydney’s Dugong Island?
Probably (laughs) I don’t know. I’d rather do the aquarium proper, but we’ll see. Well, hopefully after this little Australian run we get a chance.
Catch Gypsy and the Cat at the Metro Sydney on Nov 8 and the Hi-Fi in Brisbane on Nov 10