Interview: Django Django
After their 2012 debut which sky-rocketed the four-piece on a two-and-a-half-year-long world tour and gained them a Mercury Prize nomination, Django Django are now bursting into 2018 with their highly anticipated third album, ‘Marble Skies’. Recorded in their own studio, which almost got the band taken to court, the recording process proved to more of a relaxing journey compared to the recording of their previous album. With a sense of freedom this time around, the band was able to experiment as much as their hearts desired.
We had a chat with the band’s vocalist/guitarist Vinny, who gave us a further insight into the recording of ‘Marble Skies’ and what elements of the album he’s particularly proud of. Vinny also hinted at the possibility of a 2019 Australian tour, so be sure to keep your eyes open for this one if you’re a Django fan!
Congratulations on the album! It’s been out for a few weeks now, how has the response been so far?
I think good so far, it’s always quite nerve wracking the week of the release, but it seemed to go well. There’s a lot of people saying that it’s quite different from the last record and maybe a bit more positive and brighter sounding, and more concise. I think we got our shit together in terms of edits and being a bit more rigorous with our shows, which is good. But it seems to be going well, all the tours seem to be selling well; I suppose we won’t really know until we actually start the tour in a couple week’s time and we’ll see first-hand what the vibes are like.
You recorded the album in your own studio this around didn’t you?
Yeah, it’s really close to where we all live too, so it’s been so good having it.
Yeah that would definitely make things easier. Do you think that recording it in your own space had an effect on the overall sound and feel of the record; compared to your last album that was recorded in a bigger studio?
Yeah, I think so. For one, the studio we recorded at last time was in the middle of nowhere, it was in these fields in the middle of the English countryside. So personally, I didn’t find it was great for being to be able to just leave and go to a bar or the markets or anything, where normally you’d be able to go and being back some inspiration or at least an idea that could lead to something. So being isolated like that, it was quite hard to get excited and get in the right creative mind frame. I personally like being in a city when we’re recording; with the hustle and bustle and you can go out and see different things and take more of it in. I think just in terms of having control over everything in the recording process helped too. We didn’t have to worry about any huge costs, we didn’t have a big mastering desk; we all shared the same crap computer that has like four tracks for recording. But that all keeps us in a place that’s comfortable, and it allowed us to make mistakes without freaking out about it. In the bigger studio, we almost felt like we were forced to get things done very quickly. Sometimes we’d feel like we wanted to record something in a different way or play around with a few things, but there just wasn’t time. Recording in our own space, we had time. We could do like 16 versions of each track, which ended up being a bit of a nightmare when it came to choosing and finalising what version we wanted to use, but it meant we had a lot of freedom to experiment with different things. So it ended up being a lot more enjoyable and when we were done we actually all felt quite refreshed.
When we were building the studio I had a mate do the building, and he doesn’t know anything about sound insulation, and he totally fucked the whole studio in that way. The neighbours were going to take us to court, but we eventually got it sorted, it just took time. We managed to get it all sorted in the end, but it was months and months of not being able to work in there and getting threatening emails from the other tenants. It was very stressful for a while, but we got there in the end.
That would have been so frustrating!
Vinny: Yeah, you can’t really concentrate too well on getting anything done when there’s constantly people banging on the door.
The album is quite eclectic and varied, is that how you wanted the album to sound from the get-go or did that just happen with the recording process?
I think if we went in with the idea of making it eclectic or doing something very sonically varied, we’d probably end up with twelve acoustic tracks (laughs). It seems as though whatever way we set out to do something, it comes out the complete opposite.
I suppose because of there’s four of us in the band; we all have similar music taste but we also love different types of music, so there’s a bit of variety brought to the table in that sense. At one stage, someone might be listening to some sort of dance-hold music, so they’ll write four tracks influenced by that, then someone will write a piano ballad, then I’ll be in a slightly rock-ish mood, so I’ll write a song with that sound. Then I’ll get sick of that and start listening to English-folk and that will start coming out in my writing. It’s like that a lot of the time, but if the songs we’re writing are good, it doesn’t really matter what genre it is. We try to embrace that. We figured out quite early on as a band that we don’t want to write albums with ten or twelve similar sounding tracks. We’re not trying to make something that sounds like someone else, or we’re not trying to be anyone else; we’re just going with the flow and embracing whatever comes from that.
When it comes to making a tracklist for an album, we try to connect the dots so it makes a bit of sense and fits; we don’t want it to jump all over the place and feel disconnected.
Everything on the album does fit so well together, and even though there is a lot of different sounds, it still has a very distinct Django Django sound.
Yeah, that’s pretty much what we’re trying for. I think because we all grew up in the ’90s when mixtapes were big; you’d give them to your friends, if you had a crush on a girl you’d give her one thinking it was the most amazing thing in the world that’s going to blow her socks off. There would just be so much going on and they were so exciting to listen to, so I think that kind of element; with a few twists and turns and surprises is what we try to strive for. They’re the kind of things we look for when we’re listening to music, and we try to put that to practice when we’re making a record too.
It definitely keeps things interesting.
Yeah absolutely. It keeps it interesting for us as well, not just the listeners. On the track Surface To Air, Rebecca Taylor helps out with vocals, which is something different for us, so it’s like a bit of a curveball on the album. It’s good to go to places that is out of your natural comfort zone too. It almost feels like; you know when you see a button that says “Don’t Press”, we kind of think “well, why not.” At the end of the day, it’s only music. It’s fun and we can afford to be experimental with things.
Is there any particular song or element of the album you’re especially proud of?
I think that Sundials is a track that we’ve never really done before, and I’ve always wanted to do a song like that. It’s almost like a track that you’d listen to if you had a hangover on a Sunday morning. I think it’s quite a nice track. And I think Real Gone is something I’m quite proud of. It was one of those tracks that I didn’t like when I first wrote it. But I put a pause on it for a couple weeks so I could give it another chance, but it’s one of my favourites now. That tends to happen a bit; the songs I’m not sure about in the beginning turn out to be the ones I like the most. We’re rehearsing Champagne at the moment, and I didn’t really think that was a track that was going to work out too well, but it’s come to be way better than some of the other material I thought was going to be far better.
You’ve got a pretty busy touring schedule over the next months and a few festival sets as well, have you got much else planned for the year?
Yeah we’re pretty busy for the next few months. We’re playing Coachella, which is a really big one for us. We’ve never played that before so that’s a pretty big deal. We’re also kind of gearing up for another tour I the States after Summer, and there’s been talk of touring Mexico and South America. We’ve never played there before so we’re trying to gear something up for that. We’d love to go to Russia as well, we really want to go to places we’ve never played before.
We’re also going to see about coming to Australia next year too if things are still going well and we haven’t killed each other after this tour.