Monday, August 15, 2011

Bag Raiders Interview

BAG RAIDERS is an incredibly big name right now.  The Aussy duo exploded onto the scene with their track "Shooting Stars" in 2009.  Last October, they released their self titled record, which contained brilliant tracks like "Sunlight" and "Snake Charmer".  More recently, they've toured  with the phenomenal Ellie Goulding and brought their amazing sound to the, in my opinion, dance-deprived US.

"Shooting Stars" tore up the Australian charts, as well as the Hype Machine.  The track features an amazing synth hook that builds upwards and hooks the listener to a climactic explosion of dance greatness--the beat is even featured in Madeon's "Pop Culture" mix.  The music video for "Shooting Stars" features fantastic flying-on-car action.  Their record Bag Raiders follows up perfectly to this.

I chatted with the duo recently about their tour, their hit "Shooting Stars", collaborating with Dan Black, and their amazing synth collection (the one I envy most since Diamond Cut!).  Read on below to check out the inside scoop on Bag Raiders.

Hey Bag Raiders! Thanks for joining me. How is the tour going?
Bag Raiders: "So far so good.. We're actually just sitting in the airport right now on the way to Portugal for a quick in and out trip to play the SW Festival there."

You recently played several sold out shows with Ellie Goulding. Did you guys and Ellie and her crew get along well?
"Yeah they're all really nice. We're actually still in the middle of the tour now! All the shows have been incredible. Really good response from the crowd to us so that's always very nice to see. Ellie's show is great aswell, i've watched it about 8 times."

Your debut Bag Raiders came out earlier this year-- I was a huge fan of 'Shooting Stars' since it was released some time back, so it was great to finally hear a complete record. Who are some of the artists that influenced this record?
"I would say artists that influenced it range all the way from earth wind & fire, hall and oates, daft punk, fela kuti, all kinds of people. All kind of music from jazz to classical to rock to techno influence us and i think that sort of comes out in our music because the album is pretty varied for a dance record."

One track that stands out in particular to me is 'Sunlight', which features Dan Black as vocals. How was it working with Dan? How'd this collaboration come about?
"We heard him actually for the first time on a mixtape when he did this cover of madonna's get into the groove. I loved his voice and we basically just approached him and said we'd love him to sing on the record. He had some great ideas for the track and he recorded it and sent it over. We went back and forth on it a little over email.. it was pretty funny as we were on the road and at one stage we were singing into a computer in a noodle house in the airport in Malaysia. We never met Dan until after the record came out we were both on the Parklife tour in Australia. He actually sang sunlight on stage with us there it was pretty awesome."

'Sunlight' also has a great video. How involved were you guys in the video making process?
"Our involvement with videos (unless we are featured in them) is pretty minimal. Basically what happens is we get around 5 people to pitch ideas to us and we just pick the whackiest one. There were a few pretty insane ideas but when we read the draft of the directors Fleur & Manu, we just HAD to go with the monkey. When you are choosing someone to do a video you are picking them because you really like the work that they do, so we don't interfere, we just let the artists do their thing. We were very happy with the result of this video."

'Shooting Stars' seems to be one of those tracks that sticks with people-- I have friends who aren't into house or dance and really love this track. The track is a couple years old at this point but is still reaching listeners in the US. I consider it a perfect pop-dance song because of the beautiful build up, catchy vocals, and the synth hook that immediately reels in listeners. What was the inspiration to this track? What was the writing process like?
"Actually the inspiration to this track was to create something completely opposite to the record which it was the B-side of. Originally it came out as a B-side to Turbo Love which is pretty charging and heavy. We were writing it so that the record had something really contrasting and relaxed. It was going to be an instrumental originally, but then we were listening over and over to it, and we decided that it absolutely needed a vocal. So we wrote a song on the top and had our friend Rhys Taylor sing it. That's why the structure is the way it is, not regular verse chorus verse chorus sort of songwriting." 

What is your synth collection like (hardware and software)?
"Let me see if i can reel it off the top of my head.... So far as hardware goes
Korg MS20, Monopoly and Polysix
Roland 101, 303, 727, 808, 909, Jupiter8, JX-3P
Yamaha Cs15, Cs30, Cs80, DX7
Minimoog C, minimoog XL
Dave Smith Prophet08, PolyEvolver
ASR 10
Nord stage - mostly just use this for the piano and organ sounds..
And for software... We're generally not so into soft-synths but being on the road so much we've needed to find some for sketching ideas.. I like the spectrasonics stuff like trillian and omnisphere."

What is your production set up like? Are you using Logic, Cubase, Ableton, etc?
"We use Logic."

How do you guys typically start tracks? When you use synth sounds, are you using presets, or editing them, or making fresh patches?
"Every track is different. Sometimes they start out as a jam in the studio with drum machines going and us tweaking about on synths.. Other times they might start on a plane, making a beat on a laptop.. Sometimes they start as a whilstle in the shower which we'll record on a voice note on a phone, and then make it into an idea later on. Sometimes we are doing tracks together from the very beginning, others we do separate and then work on together later. It's always different."

What advice do you have for young producers?
"Just finish stuff. When we first started we would have a billion ideas going and none of them ever got finished. You could work on something forever and you might not ever think it's perfect. So instead of agonizing over something and finishing nothing, just let it go and promise yourself that you'll do better in the next one. Once you start finishing stuff that becomes a habit and before you know it you have a lot of ideas that turn into finished songs."

What is next for Bag Raiders?
"More touring!! and then later this year we will start work on our next album which i am pretty excited about. I love doing shows and performing our music to people but i have been missing playing with our synths in our studio back home."

BAG RAIDERS on SoundCloud
BAG RAIDERS on Twitter
BAG RAIDERS official site

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