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Escape Velocity

Extreme Exposure: Nedry Reveal Light Behind The Darkness
Simon Jay Catling , October 5th, 2010 11:47

London-based trio Nedry talk depression, experience and their plans for "phase two" with Simon Jay Catling

Parents saunter along the small line of local stores, attended to by cheery red-cheeked souls between anything from 40 to 70 years old. Children greedily devour ice creams or run across the yellowing grass with the kind of contented directionless manner only achievable at such an age. Others either recline lazily on the ground, beat down by the summer sun, or sup local ales under whatever shade they can find, the warm burble of chatter interspersed with the sound of Radio 2's Bob Harris introducing the next melodic soft-rock from the tent situated nearby the gnarled tree that Nedry and I are seeking our own protective solace under. Truck Festival's humble Oxfordshire farm setting doesn't really seem an appropriate location to interview the London-based trio; their music recalls the dimly lit streets and 4am quiet of suburban dystopia, the sort of time a metropolis finally rests and allow lurking vagrants to crawl over its concrete skin. Debut mini-LP Condors comes from a different angle than dub step benchmark Burial, yet still manages to evoke the same emotions of nocturnal still, a hauntingly beautiful eight tracks that draws in anything from trip-hop, glitch, dream-pop and murkier forms of electronica. The resulting sound comes from a group born together seemingly out of a necessity to create, their combining characteristics proving the best alchemy with which to do so. For programmers and guitarists Matt Parker and Chris Ambling, Condors is merely an advancement of their lineage, the pair both having history as bedroom musicians. Vocalist Ayu Okakita however comes from having a major record deal in Japan, a world away from the intimate nature of Nedry's DIY setup.

Like their performance at Truck, though, Nedry themselves don't quite fit the mould; the trio don't let on too much but there's a closeness between them that goes beyond convenience. They're also quick to dispel the notion of themselves as a brooding doom-merchants; hospital and warm in nature, they're excited about where they are and where they're going – putting their gripping performance later in the afternoon in an entirely different context.

Since we're at Truck, I should ask how festival season's been this year?

Matt Parker: The ones we've played have gone really well. We were playing at Sonar and Roskilde and, having gone from playing the Beat Hive at Truck last year to the main stage at Sonar this year, it's been really good. We've been getting treated well by the promoters as well which is a bit different from gigs. Chris Amblin: It's a complete jump up in level.

Has the success surprised you?

MP: We had a one year plan, and it came right.

CA: We didn't really imagine it would happen like this. Every time you get one of these requests to play it's a complete shock. It's not like we're taking it for granted now, we're always delighted and calling each other going "how did this happen!?" It's brilliant.

How did Nedry come together as a band?

MP: Shotgun not answering!

Ayu Okakita: Shotgun not!

CA: Don't leave it to me.

MP: It's a good story man.

CA: It's really not a good story. Erm, I don't really know if I can put a better spin on it but essentially we were both making music separately and Ayu was doing her own thing in Japan. We found each other on Myspace through friends of friends saying "check this person out," I got in touch with Matt and we started an email chat and Matt found Ayu and we all met in one place and decided we wanted to do it.

How's the creative work process worked from that foundation? Are you all from diverse musical backgrounds?

MP: Both myself and Chris have been doing a lot of bedroom computer music stuff but we'd also both been in quite a variety of bands. You've been in about ten different bands.

CA: Delicate Cock was a favourite band name. I was in a band called Death Bitch; I was in a lot when I was growing up – me and Matt share that rocking out on stage, four-piece stuff, but we both have this interest in electronic music too.

This is a bit of a departure then.

MP: Yeah I think so. The first proper band I was in was an instrumental post-rock thing who I drummed for; they were quite like Tortoise and that kind of stuff. Then after that I was in a psychedelic hip-hop band and doing most of the production, so I guess I'm trying to find a balance of both those with Nedry. Meanwhile, Ayu, your musical background's quite interesting…

AO: I started out in Japan on a major label, but I was really fascinated by music from outside the country and so I came to London and formed some bands and I sang on my own with acoustic guitar and then joined Nedry.

MP: Yeah that's when I discovered you - "I'm gonna make you a star!"

Is it true that you were supposed to go back to Japan but you've decided to stay over here owing to the success of the group?

AO: I had to go back because my VISA ran out and I came back because I got it, but of course for Nedry as well.

MP: Would you have come back if we hadn't done all the recording?

AO: I don't think so, I'm not sure. I was ready to go back to Japan because it felt like time; but then Nedry went really well and I thought "yeah, why not?"

How does it compare being a musician over in London as opposed to Japan?

AO: I was signed to a big label back in Japan and I was really young, like 19 years old, and had no idea what I was doing; everyone prepared everything for me. Nedry is more DIY, they are really good at planning things, and it's hard work but it's more down to earth and we have more control and freedom which I think is a good thing.

Your LP Condors seems to contain a real darkness tinged with rays of hope.

MP: A friend of mine who made the music video for [the track] ‘A42,' he said if any of our songs went over seven minutes it'd be just enough time to get a rope out, and he's been begging me to call the next album ‘Seven Minutes And A Rope.' But I disagree with him: I think our music's dark but I personally really like that and find it hard to make anything that's happy. I just can't do it, it's not in me.

CA: There's an element of humour that people don't really realise until seeing us live. We have a lot of fun doing this, we take it seriously but we don't take ourselves too seriously and I think people who see us live can go back to the record, take a step back when they listen to it and see that it's not just a bleak picture that we're projecting.

MP: It's not like when we play live we're all dressed in black with mood lights or something, we're not rigid or anything.

Obviously there's Ayu's vocals, but aside from that too there's a real human feel to the electronics.

MP: That was really important for us and is generally what we try and do. It goes back to our roots in music really, being more based around rock and metal and stuff, but I really like more organic sounds and trying to balance that with the electronic stuff's really important.

It feels like an album that's come through on its own terms at a time when a lot of albums seem quite reactionary and aware of what's about at the moment, do you feel that?

CA: I think we'd love to believe that but I think it might be dangerous to do so because if you do make things feeling that you're out on your own you can end up disappearing up your own backside. I think there's a lot of bands doing similar things to us that are just going unheard, or we've just had a mixture of luck and hard work and got noticed, but I definitely wouldn't say we're out there on a limb.

Do you find yourselves tagged in with any particular sub genre at all?

MP: I think the tag we've been given is live dubstep band, which is so far from the truth. I saw this band at Latitude called Submotion Orchestra who were really good and they were a live dubstep band, everything was broken up into the formulaic 16 bar and then the drop. We don't follow those rules and most of our songs aren't even remotely dubstep sounding, they're just dark. I guess trip-hop and dubstep are what dark electronic is at the moment though.

How do you feel about coming into the industry in its current climate?

CA: We're quite control freakish, we control everything we do and only work with people we know personally. Most of the people we work with or who do stuff for us do it for free and at this point in time you can only make it work if you can do 90% of the work yourself and you know the right people who can fill in the gaps. At the moment I'm seeing a lot of bands struggling, but they're not conscious of how much money they're spending on things around them, and if you're a full band with a back line and drum kit touring is really hard now.

MP: Yeah you're right. When we first started making stuff the whole initial premise of everything we were going to do was, "we can get everything on the tube and get it to a venue and back again." We wanted it to be a portable package basically, and we've expanded that a bit. We've got a people carrier and that's sufficient, we're very conscious about trying to save money so we can keep the dream going a little bit longer, but you guys have both recently started working.

CA: We had some time off to tour but now it's back to work again. You just have to be really realistic about it and be grateful for the opportunities you have.

It separates the wheat from the chaff now because acts who don't realise how much work they have to put in fall by the wayside now.

MP: You'll find a lot of bands'll get the initial hype marketing stuff that happens and they'll push up really quickly but they can't sustain it – and you can't go back. I think that's going to happen to a lot of people if they're not careful.

CA: I think the advantage is we're not 19 years old; we've got a lot more experience. I can totally emphasise with the younger bands, all these things can happen quickly if you're an exciting young group. We've been really lucky with the way things have worked that we can contemplate who we really want to work with and that's been our blessing really, not rushing into anything too quickly.

How do you approach playing live?

MP: The first time we met together I basically transported the same set up I had from my previous band. Chris had seen my old band before so I guess he knew what I was going to be doing, but it was always with the intention that it'd be as live as we could make it despite it being electronic. You have to sequence stuff, sometimes you can play it in, but I guess the ultimate idea is to make it visually interesting.

I interviewed Paul Wolinski from 65daysofstatic, and he suggested that the laptop maybe puts something of a barrier between audience and performer.

CA: We keep talking about our ultimate vision where you just don't have the laptop on the stage. When we saw Caribou at Sonar he had the laptop hidden away, he was playing a keyboard but he was controlling sounds with it.

MP: I think there's a barrier with a laptop being on stage. As soon as you see that item there on stage you think "oh he could be doing anything." But when I saw Animal Collective last year they had an SP404 sampler and you're ultimately doing exactly the same thing. You press play or you trigger something and it doesn't look like a computer which changes the way the audience feels about it, it feels more live and natural. It's the same processes occurring but visually it's different so if you had like a tablet turnaround so that no one saw that screen and you had the display there and you could adapt and touch and move it it'd be really different.

You said before that you had a one year plan, how far are you through that?

CA: We're on phase one and that's coming to an end so we're about to start phase two.

MP: We're going to need a subtitle for that Chris. ‘The New Hope.'

AO: We're making another album. I think that we should have a few songs where we don't use computers at all, which would be exciting.

CA: The stuff we're working on is definitely moving towards that.

AO: And we'd have a back up plan if the computer fails live.

MP: This one show in Italy my computer decided it didn't really like playing anymore and I couldn't work it out; it normally doesn't happen ever. But Ayu had to improvise.

CA: Also regarding phase two; we're asked to play between 30 to 45 minutes of music at the moment and we're getting to the point now where we want to play longer, build up an atmosphere and have different moments and things happening. We've gone past impressing someone in half an hour, we really want to make more of a connection.

And what above drives you to keep making music? What's your main reason for being together?

MP: You both make me laugh. Chris has cool speakers.

AO: Sometimes it's a torture to create something but then you get a lot of pleasure and you can't beat that.

CA: You can spend days working on something and it's just not happening then it can come together and that's the most amazing experience.

MP: I'd say that as well, you're making hours and hours of crap and then all of a sudden it goes somewhere and you don't really know where that comes from. On another level, playing to big crowds, these big festivals have been so good. Afterwards there's about two hours where you feel really good, and I want a bit more of that.

Nedry will play the following shows on their UK tour:

October 20 Corsica Studios, London
October 21 SWN Arts Festival, Cardiff
October 22 Brainwash Festival, Leeds
October 23 TBC, Manchester