People who really know their indie-electronica describe WALLS as a genre-breaking cross between Animal collective and Caribou with krautrock influences. People who aren’t cunts describe WALLS as that band that sounds a bit like happy ghosts wailing. Or maybe a dancey soundtrack to a bright childhood holiday flashback. It’s all very abstract and chilled out.
Sam Willis, the synth and samples man of the duo, describes their music as “definitely not frenetic music BPM-wise, it has a contemplative aspect to it. We still focus on rhythm and groove, we just don’t push tempo. I’ve more of a hip hop background, Alessio [Natalizia] is more classical. It feels quite natural for us to go a bit slower. Though, our newer stuff – the stuff we’re making now – is pushing the speed up.
“The album version is more geared toward headphone listening, unlike the arena experience. Live, it’s slightly more psychedelic and drawn out. Seeing the response at shows, it feeds back. In the future, we’re going to explore the trippier side of the dance floor.”
‘Explore’ isn’t Willis’ over-inflated sense of his music’s importance, the pair do challenge themselves in the studio and refuse to make lowest common denominator electronica focused on style over substance.
“Brian Eno once talked about treating the studio as a musical instrument,” Willis says. “The ability to do things like stretch out time and sounds. But Brian Eno still has melody. We don’t want to be lumped in with chillwave. It feels quite surface or insipid, too offhand, not carefully considered.
“We couldn’t be farther away from stuff like Washed Out, even if he’s our contemporary. When The Libertines were around, a lot of bands just sounded like bad versions of them. We don’t believe in talking down to our listeners, sticking to just one style. Adam Sandler does one thing again and again and again. But who wants to be Adam Sandler? I’d rather be Willem Dafoe.”
Unlike Hollywood though, Willis believes dance music is undergoing its own golden age.
“At the moment America is discovering dance music with dubstep and all that. It’s sort of developing naturally, so it’s an exciting wave of discovery. To me the bands that are interesting incorporate dance themes into rock music and that makes some of the freshest rock music out there. Look at the legacy of guitar pop like New Order, there’s not that weird, trippy, outsider thing going on. People automatically default. We have more of a kinship with the experimental side.
“For us It’s an on-going conversation rather than something we put down on an album and leave. We’re always exploring a bit of equipment or theme or technique. The way we make music constantly changes and shifts, we want listeners to know what we’re excited about in the moment rather than just build a brand or chase success and money.”
One of the songs on last year’s Coracle, Ecstatic Truth, is named for a speech by filmmaker Werner Herzog, where he claimed that art isn’t very good at communicating facts, but that’s not what it’s there for. Instead it can induce a type of ecstasy, which is a sort of truth in itself.
Sam says: “We think very hard about naming songs, to give them depth. Like naming a child – you wouldn’t give it a funny name. It would get beaten up in school. I saw Herzog talking about ecstatic truth in London. It chimed with what we believe in. We felt that there was something in the speech that pointed toward the euphoria of the track. We like what he does – trying to reach truth through films.”
WALLS are playing the Twisted Pepper on Thursday, the 24th of May. You can listen to Coracle, out now on Kompakt, below.
Published by VenueOne.ie in May 2012
It can be found online at: http://venueone.com/#!/blog/interview-walls/