Their glitchy textures and widescreen sonic excursions burrow their way straight in our hearts, and when they get their groove trousers on live, they only go and crank it up a gear. That’s Sun Drums, never knowingly underwhelming. With a commission for the Biennial under wraps, and a new set of beat-driven workouts setting their soundcloud page alight with loops and samples, we’re sure they’re going to be a stand out set in FestEvol, part two.
Last week was a belter – crowded, friendly, smokey and bouncy: especially that fella doing rave shapes to Folks’ set inside. So we expect another squeeze in the beer garden this week too. We catch up with Sun Drums today, and Wirral’s electronic heartbreakers, Dass Unser later.
We’re loving the new pieces you’ve released. There’s a definite shift in emphasis at camp Sun Drums this year, yeah?
Definitely. I guess we’ve always leant towards expansive soundscapes and textures. I love music which reveals more with every listen, and would hope that this notion is relevant to our own output. For our last EP, we worked a lot with deconstructing and warping organic sounds and samples.
The new material is less layered. We consciously wanted to use fewer yet bolder, more distinct sounds to achieve the same impact as using 20 separate layers. Sound design is still fundamental, but this time around there was less of a tendency towards reconstructing organic sound, and more of a focus on sound design through synthesis. I guess this leant itself to a more urban, dance oriented style.
Yeah, there’s definitely a groove to your stuff – It’s not afraid to shake its booty.
Haha, yeah definitely, the new material is certainly more beat-oriented whereas our older stuff was probably more defined by its textures, and tones.
It’s partly out of circumstance (with the three of us not living together anymore) that we’ve, for the moment, veered further away from traditional songs (if you could ever call them that) and more towards dance or hip-hop tracks and instrumentals which we can produce independently of each other. Over the last year we’ve definitely been listening to far more hip-hop, r’n’b, footwork etc, so this is going to have an impact on what you write.
We also want people to be able to move to our music, rather than just think about or emotionally connect with it, so it was definitely a conscious decision to move towards music which is more of the body than the mind.
How do you approach a live gig – do you attempt to recreate the studio experience, or bring something different to the mix?
I think we’ve struggled with the live set-up, probably in trying to recreate the studio experience. We’ve always generated a bigger sound in the studio than is possible to recreate live with the three of us, and so we’ve had a strong reliance on sampling and looping, which can be prohibitive.
In our last round of gigs we recreated one of our older tunes, ‘Dry Chalk Bone’, in a far more minimal style than the original. It felt great. We’ll look to do something which expands on this, and allows for more of an expressive interpretation of the songs.
We’ll be debuting a few new tracks at FestEvol, pairing them up against some of our favourite tunes of the moment, so that’s what to expect of us this weekend.
What’s your best gig so far?
Going back to our Bagheera days, the HEALTH gig at the Kazimier really stands out as a high point. They were such chilled out, nice guys, who happened to make earth-shattering music, and it was one of our better performances of the early material.
As Sun Drums, the last couple have been awesome. Laurel Halo for Deep Hedonia and the Everisland show back in January, with our buddies, Capac. The Everisland show stands out as there was such amazing local support.
Where do you fit in to the Liverpool musical landscape now?
I think the way our sound is heading, it’s probably got more in common with artists like Evian Christ and Forest Swords than anyone else. That’s not to say we’re trying to emulate these artists, but I don’t think we’d be out of place on the same bill as either.
I’ve been following Forest Swords for quite a while. ‘Dagger Paths’ is one of those records that seems to only come along once every few years, and just hits you, because it sounded simultaneously incongruous yet so relevant to the current musical landscape.
As for Evian Christ his Album on Tri Angle this year, seemed to come out of nowhere, and it’s a bit of a breath of fresh air, so it was interesting to hear he’s from just across the way in Ellesmere Port.
Does that mean an electronic band feels, at last, like part of family?
We’ve not really shied away from our thoughts about Liverpool’s indie scene. It’s tough being a band in a scene where the initial outside perception of a Liverpool music is probably that of an uninspired Cast tribute act.
It’s got a lot going for it both in terms of guitar based music (Outfit, Loved Ones, Eyes, We Came Out Like Tigers, Stealing Sheep) and urban music (Forest Swords, Evian Christ, John Heckle, Mele, Afternaut, Kaast, to name a few) and people are starting to take notice.
What state do you think Liverpool’s venues scene is in – and what about audiences, how healthy are they?
There are venues in Liverpool which rival the best in the country. I’m referring to the Kazimier, Wolstenholme Creative Space, and the Camp & Furnace. I just don’t know if Liverpool has the appetite for contemporary music. I’ve seen some awesome bands over the years in Liverpool, and have been lucky enough to share a stage with some of them, but why oh why was Laurel Halo playing to a crowd of less than a hundred people?
You can apply the same question to Dan Deacon at the Masque a couple of years back, when he played to around 10 people. Securing these sort of artists *should* be a big deal.
That said, I think the Camp & Furnace has amazing potential, and what the Kazimier crew have done with extending the venue into the garden area is fantastic, even if it is temporary. Hopefully things like the PARK Weekender with Holy Other, Fort Romeau and Jam City later this month will prove me wrong. Props to the Deep Hedonia dudes and LMW for bagging that!
How hard is it to get heard? What’s your attack plan?
It’s difficult. I think most of us by now know about the benefits of internet dissemination and the democratisation of music since having an infinite global platform to upload onto, but it’s the level platform which makes it difficult to stand out from the crowd. We don’t really have a business plan, we just want to continue to put out music, more regularly than before, whilst making sure that some of the right blogs, zines and artists/djs hear it. Sam’s been experimenting with some Max MSP patches to create abstract visuals, so maybe there will be some of that accompanying shortly.
Quality is the most important thing, otherwise you’re not going to get very far.
FestEvol Gardens part 2, Aug 11 (4pm-2am, £10)