Interview with Telepathe
Telepathe - aka Busy Gangnes and Melissa Livaudais - are an electro-pop duo who have just released their very fine debut album 'Dance Mother', which was recorded with TV on the Radio's David Sitek last year. Formed in 2004, their line-up has gone through several changes, but the pair have settled into their sound and are currently razing the hipster landscape with their offbeat, rhythm-heavy incursions. A bit ironic, since they hail from the centre of the hipster universe, Brooklyn. Nonetheless, I caught up with them last week to hear about their experiences to date.
How did Telepathe form?
Telepathe came out of a band called Wikkid. We played with two other girls, Emily Powers and Allie Alvarado. Emily decided to go to graduate school and we soon after started working on new music, Allie joined up with us and then left a year later. We've been making music ever since, sometimes bringing other collaborators into the project.
Who were the main influences that brought you together and made you want to make music in the first place? You've said that hip-hop was/is a big factor, and I can hear that in your music, with the repetitive beats.
Originally, we had a shared vision of forming a band together but didn't have one specific musical idea. We all had different ideas, but were both very into the idea of collaborating with women only. The influence that eventually came to the forefront was a shared love of hip hop - especially raw creativity and overall attitude of 'anything goes', but still making "catchy", "hooky" music.
How does the songwriting process work between you? Is one person the lyricist, one the composer, etc., or is every aspect a collaboration?
We take turns. Collaborate, smash our ideas together with practically every aspect of songwriting. This was one of our main ideas in starting Telepathe, especially since in our old band, we used to specialise as only a drummer, or only a guitarist. We both got a bit bored by having to stick to our "roles".
Brooklyn seems to be churning out top-quality diverse bands like some sort of machine. What is it about the borough that inspires such creativity?
There are a lot of opportunities here for new bands. There are tons of venues and people willing to go to shows every night of the week. A lot of people migrate here from all over the US. One main drawback, though, is that the cost of living is high - people have to work a lot, so that takes away time from making music. We couldn't afford a practice space for about 2 years... We practiced in our loft space.
What's your favourite track from the album, and what ones get the best reception live?
My favorite track is Devil's Trident, seems to get a pretty good reception live also.
How was Dave Sitek to work with? What kind of producer is he - demanding, or willing to sit back and experiment?
He's both demanding and willing to experiment. He fully supported any ideas we had and brought them to fruition ten-fold. He's really good at bringing out the best in people and making people push themselves. He's also a slave driver, and locked us up in his studio for 14 hours at a time - 4pm til 6am - every day for an entire month. But with that discipline, we had enough time to go crazy and try anything we wanted. It felt very collaborative, free and very fun!
The album takes in a lot of different styles, from electro-pop to spoken word. Is your own music collection/taste as diverse as it sounds?
Yes, we're interested in a lot of different genres of music. We take from hip hop, house, dubstep, shimmery pop music, trying to bring all of our influences into our songs.
The album's unusual for only having nine tracks. Was it a conscious decision to keep it relatively short and sweet, or did it just happen that way?
Well, we consider 'The Trilogy' as 3 separate songs, so there are actually 11 song titles and it runs over 40 min. But in general we did want to keep it short and succinct. It's our debut.
What have been your favourite albums of the past year?
Chairlift, "Does You Inspire You", MGMT "Oracular Spectacular", Lil Wayne, "The Carter III"
Do you enjoy touring? What's on the typical Telepathe rider?
Yes and no. Mostly yes, as long as beer isn't the only thing on the rider. We like veggie platters, chocolate, and something to drink other than beer.
What are your plans for the rest of the year? Are you planning any Irish dates?
We have tons of touring coming up this spring, and for the moment we're preparing for it. We went to Dublin twice last year, we're definitely coming back to Ireland this spring. We love it there!
'Dance Mother' is out now on V2. Check Telepathe's MySpace page for details on any upcoming Irish dates.
Watch 'So Fine' here:
Story by Lauren | 09:00 | Tuesday 10th February 2009 | Music
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