Monday, July 25, 2011

Visitor Interview

VISITOR is a new duo out of the UK bringing back the pop flavor in the synth pop scene.  Their beautiful pop vocals and dance beats are some taking the dance scene by storm.  With their debut album just around the corner, I was very excited to have a chance to talk to Lucas and Kyle about their synth choices, working with Diamond Cut (a guest a few weeks ago) and what's to come from their debut album.

Hey Visitor! Thanks for joining me.  You guys are pretty new on the scene, especially in the US.  Can you tell me a bit about your background and how you met?  Who plays what in the band?
Luc: We met at high school, when we were around 13 years old in Melbourne, Australia. The two of us started doing music after Kyle bought a Juno 106, we kind of taught ourselves how to write music and went from there really.. We left Australia after finishing school and moved to London via living in Italy for a bit. We both write our music, Kyle sings and we have various ways of performing live.

Who are your biggest influences? To me, you sound very 80s and French House influenced.
Luc: Our influences are always changing, but a couple of mainstays have been Stuart Price, Daft Punk, The Killers and artists like Alan Braxe and Lifelike. It seems that the 80s feel of our music is just inherent in what we do and how we write. We generally don't listen to music from the 80s to draw inspiration from or for recreation. We're more interested in the future...

Currently, you have one single released, called "Los Feeling", a very dance-friendly song that still has a full set of lyrics much like a pop song.  What inspired this track?
Luc: Los Feeling was written to encapsulate the feeling of heartbreak and numbness one feels when drifting apart from someone. It came about like most of our other tracks; an idea will come from somewhere and we will write the best soundtrack to that idea that we can. We write in a very visual way, where it's not so much about a narrative as it is about making the audience identify with what we are imagining, like bringing them in on the idea so it's shared. Los feeling is a good example of that.

My favorite of your tracks is the club edit of "Love".  The filters, pads, beat, build up, and vocals are all perfect, upbeat club pieces.  This type of track hasn't caught on in the US quite yet.  Are you guys big fans up the more upbeat dance tracks?
Luc: Yeah absolutely. I'd say the way we write is more synonymous to the writing of dance music, and so remixes kind of suit our theme and don't seem like an add-on or something that 'you have to do' as a band. Remixes and dance music are very much part of what we do and how we want Visitor to progress. 

Your tracks have great synth sounds.  The pads strike me especially, they're very clubby.  What type of gear are you using for your sounds?  Are you using hardware, software, digital, analog?  What are your favorites synths/ synth plugins?
Kyle: We don't actually use any outboard gear until Diamond Cut gets involved.  As far as softsynths go, the Korg M1 features on loads of stuff.  The Polysix... We use the Arturia Minimoog for bass quite a bit... The Jupiter 8 is great for pads... The M1 is probably the big one at the moment though...  Diamond Cut often replaces parts with his Poly Evolver.  Drums are done with the MPC3000...

What is it like to work with Diamond Cut?  Does the mix get sent back and forth through email frequently?
Luc: It's an interesting relationship we have with Diamond Cut. We haven't met him, or even spoken to him on the phone, however we're on the same page when it comes to making music. We both have clear ideas about the sounds we each like to use. Through working with him we have really been able to develop and establish the overall 'Visitor' sound. In terms of process, the way we work usually is that Kyle and I will write and record most of the music to a level where we're excited by the song and think it'd be something that DC would like to work on, send it off to him with some notes and we take it from there.

What method do you use to start a track, and what methods do you use to program your synth sounds?
Luc: It depends. Sometimes it comes from an idea recorded on our phone which we develop later, in which case the track will start with a chord progression or lead line, then drums, bass, and the track will evolve from there. Sometimes it will be more about the beat and bass, if we are wanting to do a dancier song. Usually we will start off completely electronic, then bring in real bass and guitar, then vocals.. I think you just end up with a method that instinctively suits the track. Programming synth sounds is done by playing stuff in. We might tinker with it later and move notes around, but essentially we record then loop sections. We will then arrange it all so it is more like the structure of a pop song rather than a dance record I suppose...  

What advice do you have for producers new to the scene?
Kyle:  Just do your own thing, and do it well.

What are you five pieces of dream gear?
Kyle: I'd say:
Akai MPC3000
E-mu SP-1200
Roland Jupiter 8
Korg Poly six
Yamaha CS80
Would probably do it.

What is your current production set up like (Logic, Ableton, other)?
Kyle: Logic from beginning to end.  We're not always working together in the same room, so it makes life much easier when we're all using logic... 

"Los Feeling" has a wonderful remix by Alan Braxe.  How did that come about, and what is it like to have a remix by one of the godfathers of French House?
Luc: That remix is awesome. We were introduced to him a while ago, and he identified with the track and was interested because it fit in with what he was doing with Vulture. Having him remix our first single is obviously incredible for us, I don't think we could have been happier.

Your SoundCloud has several "rough" mixes.  Are these tracks slated for your debut album?
Kyle: There are of course some givens, but over the last few months we have been working very hard on writing as much as we can for the album. 

When can we expect your debut?  What can you tell us about the tracks?
Kyle: Quite soon... We need to ensure our album is a well-ballanced, thoughtful representation of what Visitor is and sounds like. We walk on a fine line between being more conventional electronic pop and more club/dance, so the aim of the album is really to solidify where we stand in that sense. We also want it to sound like an album, not just a collection of songs bunched together.  We will be finished in the next 6 weeks.

What are the themes of your new album, lyrically?
Kyle: The themes are quite universal. Love, loss, humanity, weakness, strength etc.. It's all about creating a series of moments rather than a linear narrative.

What is your favorite dance record?
Luc: There are a lot for different reasons... but the one single record that originally influenced the visitor sound the most was The Killers' Mr Brightside remix by Thin White Duke. After hearing that, we changed how we wrote and the sounds we were using…

Are you going to tour the United States?
Luc: Yeah, we are. We've been planning it recently although getting the album finished has been the priority for us, especially over the last month. After it's finished, the live show is going to be the focus and we are definitely going to be coming over to the states to do some shows.  

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