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Interviewed by
Courtney Sanders
Tuesday 12th November, 2013 8:58AM

Alba are a Sydney-based electronic outfit who recently released their Knokke/Law split 12". They're heading to New Zealand this weekend to play Square Wave Festival and UnderTheRadar caught up with them to discover what makes them tick, what their digging at the moment, and why they are psyched to be invited back to New Zealand.

How did Alba form?

We have known eachother since we were pre-pubescent, and have been making, getting excited, and talking about music ever since. Alba is simply the most recent in a string of projects we've had together - from Jamiroquai cover bands to EBM stylings. We hope this is the best so far.

For people who haven't heard your music, how would you describe your sound?

It's electronic music - as crude and lazy as that term may be. Not completely for the dance floor, and not completely for the lounge room, we intend for it to be functional for both. I suppose it's melodic, synthesised music that takes on particular tropes of the last 40 odd years of dance music.

Do you have any particular ongoing references or inspirations?

Again, we draw from a pretty rich history of electronic and dance musics. While we don't discriminate, we've seen a lot of our tunes following cues from classic House, UK Garage and the various permutations that surround them. We also agree a lot on music that seems to create and exist in its own space - Arthur Russell or more recently Andy Stott are artists that come to mind. Aside from electronic music, we take a lot from Jazz, later style Soul, some quite psychedelic stuff and a lot of percussion-based music.

You guys are Sydney-based. How would you think being from Sydney has affected your sound?

There isn't exactly a "Sydney-Sound" to draw from - we gave up trying to sound like Severed Heads years ago. For whatever reason a lot of our influences have a sound that is pretty rooted in its location - whether it's Krautrock or old Dubstep, and I think we are conscious not to fall too deeply into a genre for that reason; we are not post-war Germans or Croydonites who grew up with Jungle and Hardcore - to use my earlier examples. And I think that in itself has a pretty significant impact on our sound - we have to take these influences and run them through the filter of our own context. Also, of course, we are also partly products of the people we surround ourselves with and fortunately a lot of them make great music and have great taste in music.

Is there a strong electronic community in Sydney? What other artists do you admire or play with over there?

In the last couple of years Sydney's electronic music community has gone from strength to strength - I can safely say a strong one does exist. With Astral People doing their thing (no-bias) and clubs like GoodGod putting a strong focus on especially local electronic music - for example through nights like GoodGod Congress - it's becoming much easier to go put on and hear great music, and see a bunch of familliar faces along the way. As far as artists are concerned, we've got acts like Dro Carey, Cassius Select and Cliques, and DJ's like Ben Fester and Andy Webb who are all seriously representing.

More internationally, are there any artists that you are particularly digging at the moment?

We've been loving recent releases from Special Request, Kevin McPhee, Oneohtrix Point Never, Fis and Vakula to name a few.

You've just released a 12" Knokke/Law. Tell us about writing and recording that one.

We actually finished this record almost a year ago now, so it's been super fun and relieving to be able to share it with everyone. The writing and recording process was very simple really. We had written a bunch of tracks for our live set over the years and had this idea to do a series of live performance videos. Canyons were nice enough to let us use their studio space for this and we had a lot of fun doing it. I guess we just never really finished the project - however we ended up remixing the audio stems from these sessions and realised we had ended up with something that we wanted to release.

What are you working on at the moment?

We've been doing a lot of writing and organisation for our live show lately. This probably means we are writing for our next release through doing so - we like to write songs for live shows before they are ever recorded or programmed. It's more of a classic band recording procedure as opposed to a purely start to finish in the box production style, and it gives us a chance to see how people react to songs live and time to think about them and easily change them without getting too attached. We've also just closed off a couple of remixes which will see release in the next month.

You're coming over to New Zealand for Square Wave Festival: when Blink initially talked to you about the idea for his multi-venue, multi-city festival, what did you think?

We are really excited about coming back to New Zealand! Blink had us over earlier in the year for Camp A Low Hum, which was an amazing experience for us, and we just feel lucky to get to come back so soon and see more of the country. The festival seems like an amazing idea, we are really excited and honoured to be a part of it.

What are the future plans for Alba over the next year or so?

We are just going to try to keep doing what we do - writing music, playing music, and learning. We are looking to have our next release, or two, in the 12 months following the recent 12". As we mentioned earlier, we've been throwing some tunes against the wall for our next release by preparing for the current tour, and we've scheduled a summer sweating in the studio once its wrapped up. While we aren't planning an album any time soon, the coming releases will have more material - more along the lines of a 3 or 4 track EP.


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