In Sydney to support Jamiriquoi and promote their new EP "I Thought of Numbers", I had a brief chat with self-confessed 'bedroom bangers' Dan Whitford and sidekick Joel McKenzie about the state of the world, over Lemon Squashes at a Broadway Pub.
RA: I noticed you've got a real Eighties influence going on, why is that?
Dan: "Well, on the production side, I suppose being a child of the eighties, you tend to absorb all these bands, and whether it's a conscious thing or not, a lot of the sounds kind of end up sounding a little big eighties, in a fresh now kind of way. I think it kind of does resonate. I think the offensiveness has really died down. Twenty years is probably the cut off point. Things stop seeming kind of offensive and you remember the good point from the era."
RA: Why was your single "1981" only released on vinyl?
Dan: "It was kind of a conscious decision by me and the record company, that it was just a cool way to do it. We weren't trying to sell a hundred million copies of it and get it top five in the charts or anything. We just it was a cool idea, and it was actually one of the first tracks I ever wrote, but at the same time, both the record company and I both liked the idea. An 80's homage. Part of that whole era."
RA: What kind of equipment do you use in the studio?
Dan: "A computer sampler, I've got a few keyboards, like it's a new synthesizer which emulates old 80's synths and things like that, and obviously like turntables and everything. Bascially, it's just a setup so I can sample, record other people playing instruments, play my own stuff on the keyboard. It's a pretty open setup. Small, but plenty of flexibility there."
Joel: "The thing with computers today is you don't really need that much to have a really high production value anyway. Some people really go over the top."
RA: Do you consider yourself a real bedroom banger.
Dan: Well, I suppose to be picky, most of the production work does take play in my bedroom, but at the same time we've been getting out there doing our DJ set, which incorperates the sampler and trying to get out of that bedroom mentalitity.
RA: You could put a bed on stage perhaps to recreate that vibe. Do you want to describe your live set to people who haven't heard it?
Joel: Yeah we have three decks, two mixers, a sampler, a sequencer and a mixing desk that all runs into. We just try and smash it up basically. It's not so much a skilled set, but basically just trying to play bits that we really like.
Dan: I suppose to the average person coming off the street, who doesn't know what the equipment is, basically we have three turntables, as opposed to the usual two, which gives the two of us more scope to kind of mix things together.
RA: And not run into each other as much.
Dan: And the sampler allows us to play some of our own stuff and little edits of other tracks that we do. I suppose it's a chace for us combine things you wouldn't normally hear in a DJ set, try and do something that anyone can sort of appreciate and shake their ass to."
RA: Do you have a rigid set or do you improvise?
Joel: For what it is, is has to be worked out technically, with all the mixes. So it's not just a slapping things together on the fly kind of set.Yeah, I suppose if you were like doing house, you could kind of improvise.
Dan: There are elements of improvisation and there's flexibility in there. But at the moment we're just kind of honing the set as we have it planned out. Probably if we're called upon to play a longer set, there'd be more improvised elements. But usually for the one hour show it's pretty fine tuned down to the last detail."
RA: What was it like opening for Jamiroquai and Groove Armada?
Dan: Well for Groove Armada it was really good, we really enjoyed it. There was a good crowd response and a great venue, the Forum in Melbourne. With Jamiroquai at the Entertainment Centre, we had a little bit of a technical hiccup with the sampler blowing up. So that wasn't so good.
RA: Did that happen during your set?
Dan: No, it happened before hand, so we had a little bit of time to pull our hair out and work out what we were gonna do. We were able to still play, but it wasn't the usual set that we have planned out. There's improvisation for you!
RA: So did you guys get through it alright?
Dan: Yeah, it was tough. Because of the crowd, I think the Jamiroquai crowd didn't quite know what to make of us. It was really Jamiroquai's night, and the show really went off for him, and we were just the little DJ's at the start. We didn't rock the house. It was a really young crowd.
Joel: That sort of venue doesn't really lend itself to a DJ set either. It's a real kind of performance place.
"I Thought of Numbers" is out now through Modular.