Ahead of their slot at Shrewsbury Fields Forever, Jasmine Phull talks to We Are Animal originator Owain Ginsberg about the new album and a Japan distribution deal all thanks to the wonders of the Internet.
In life we have too many options. That's not my opinion, that is most certainly a fact. And despite the frivolity of it all we're still left wondering whether IT could be better.
Too many options breed a lack of conviction. Though this is a dilemma not so often faced by North Wales collective We Are Animal. Founder Owain Ginsberg simplifies his approach with a 7-track recorder. Recording all their songs on the day they are written, Ginsberg assures this is a certified method in eliminating the 'umming and ahhing' bands so often face.
Their sound is an early Nirvana meets Animal Collective; it's electronica, and reverbery, riffs and vocals. It's back to basics, and this DIY method means the quartet aren't so flippant about their time (well)-spent.
You've said all your songs are recorded on the same day as they are written. Why is that advantageous to We Are Animal? Why is that your best practice?
It works in some ways to our advantage, it's not all completely advantageous as sometimes when we listen back to the track we bashed out we always pick up on something that could have been added or improved, but from my experience in music almost everyone that has spent time in the studio on one track will always have something they wished they'd added to their work. It's basically a simpler method, and because of the technology we use, we're restricted to how much we can apply to our work because it's simply a 7-track recorder.
Debut album 'Idolise' was released late last year, did you have a theme in mind while creating it?
There was a theme to begin with, I guess it just happened naturally after the first three or four songs were recorded; they were all recorded in the same style where the drums and bass were very dry and the guitars and vocals were reverby. It gave the songs a nice blend of sound; we kept the guitar work very simple too, playing over riffs with guitars and synths that would sneak in and out of the tracks, like a drone, but a melodic one.
How important is the environment to your writing and recording process?
It's not vital to be honest but I'm sure that it does effect you in one way or another and inspires you to take subconscious decisions when working on your material. Then again, that might mean absolutely nothing to the next person you ask this question to.
What will you definitely do differently when working on the follow-up album?
Our next batch of tracks that will be released will be in the form of a 5-track EP, which so far has all been recorded in a studio, a proper one. We have kept to the same sort of formulas as the last album but this time we are trying out more things purely because we can, and the technology is there so we can experiment a bit more with sound in general.
Where in the world would you uproot to in order to further progress your sound and technique?
We're quite happy where we are to be honest.
How important is visual aesthetic to We Are Animal? Is it part of being a live band?
I don't think it's essential, most of the bands that I've grown up listening to have been punk/ish bands that have had nothing visual as far as props go, just pure on-stage live presence and energy. We try and give it everything we've got when we play live, if we aren't sweating after the show then we haven't done our job!
Festival season is rounding off. How important is festival season for bands?
Festival season is really cool for artists that actually get to play festival season; most of them are taken up by agencies and labels. We've been really lucky to play some of the bigger festivals this year, we have no label or booking agent so we've had the privilege to play in front of some amazing turn outs and audiences!
Has the Internet and in turn the decrease in actual sales made commercial ventures and collaborations with big businesses more valid for musicians?
We don't really know how bad the decline of sales would affect us because we haven't really sold a big number of records, well not that we know of anyway. We're still an unsigned band that is just doing what we do without really thinking about the marketing side of things. We just want to keep on writing; we made enough money to record this new EP in a proper studio so as long as we aren't digging into our own pockets then we are quite happy to just keep doing what we are doing.
Is the digital realm an important part of We Are Animal?
It is because the price of getting your music online is very cheap, we've somehow built a fanbase in every corner of the world with the last album as we were approached by a label in Japan (Art Union) who distributed our album in CD format in Japan, Germany, US and the UK. We're still trying to work out just how that all came about! (Laughs).
What element from your youth played an important part in shaping where you're at now?
I think it's all about the growing up from being a kid to where you are now, having being influenced by certain occurrences/happenings and bands and certain songs along the way, along with the beliefs you have and hold on to now....
How important is collaboration in your work?
I think collaborating is essential, especially when you call yourselves a 'band'; it's crucial for a band to have some sort of chemistry when it comes to knocking ideas together. Sometimes you find yourself struggling with an idea so you bring it to the table, then all of a sudden the idea you had been working on has loads of stuff going on in it. Some people can write whole albums themselves but I find that the most effective music is always better when it come from two to three people that have worked on it together.
Last song you listened to?
'I'm Your Torpedo' by Eagles of Death Metal, coming back from Cardiff last night.
First album you bought?
Chuck Berry 'Sweet Little Sixteen'
Interview by: Jasmine Phull
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