The Kaje Talks “Anomie” To Tantrums

Melbourne based electro quartet Tantrums have spent the past year and a half perfecting their line-up and their sound. Initially a duo, then a trio and now, happily a quartet, founding member Sarah Phelan tells The Kaje a little bit more about the journey that has culminated in the release of debut single “Anomie”.

Band names are not easy to settle on – what made you choose Tantrums?

Stories from our hospitality jobs of customers cracking the shits provides hours entertainment, so in a way it’s paying homage to those douchebags. One such story was being shared over an after work lock in piss-up when the thought of using it as a band name crossed our mind. Then discovered the line “All bands end in tantrums” –The Manual and the deal was sealed.

How much importance do you think there is for a name?

Not much. How the band name is perceived is always informed by the music. Band names, on their own, don’t mean much. Some of the best bands in history have had ridiculous names. The kind of names you feel embarrassed about telling your friends, unless they’ve heard the music. But these days everything’s Post-something and bands are starting to have fun with band names like Holy Fuck/ Fuck Buttons for instance.

How did Tantrums come to be?

Jade and I had both been making music separately for years. We met, became friends, bonded over music and decided to move in together to collaborate on what would become Tantrums. This was about a year and a half ago.

Your original line-up has doubled – what prompted the change and how did you choose new members?

Shortly after we started playing, Nic Oojges from Tic Toc Tokyo/ No Zu joined the band, which pulled us more in the direction of his very unique style. He left the band about a year later to focus on his other projects and we got back to the roots of what we wanted the band to sound like and set off writing again as a two piece electronic duo.

We soon realised that we couldn’t translate all that we wanted to live with this set up and looked to expand. We’d just been offered the PVT support at the Corner and realized we needed to pull ourselves together pretty quickly.

John had been doing live VJing at our shows, I loved his music, he and i study sound art together at uni, so he was a no brainer when it came to recruiting. John in turn invited his friend James in on drums and then there were four.

The electronic element is still the backbone of our composition but having four members and lots of instruments on stage has made us feel more like a band and able to share the load and share ideas.

What roles do you each play in the group?

We write the songs together by bringing ideas into the rehearsal room, fleshing them out, then taking them into the studio to arrange them properly.

More specifically:

Jade – vocals, bass, guitar, keys
Sarah – samples,beats, synth
John- keys, guitar, beats, production
James – drums

You are about to launch your debut single ‘Anomie’ – can you tell us a little about it…

It’s coming out through New Weird Australia’s Label “New Editions” and will be available in cd form or download from Thursday  25th November. We are launching it on the same day at The Workers Club. The single features awesome remixes by Collarbones and Worng and a Horse Macguyver remix is on the way.

What made you choose ‘Anomie’ as the lead single?

It’s a song that’s taken shape over a long period of time and we’ve battled with it to get it down. Lots of re-recording and facepalm. A true love/hate relationship. We felt that that song best represented us at the time. We wanted to put this song forward and disregard the rules about what makes a single.

If you had to describe your sound to a stranger, what would you say…

I’d say take Becks’s disregard for genre; Radiohead’s will to put whatever they want on an album and always know better; Dead Can Dance and Trent Reznor’s synth driven goth; production value from UK’s UNKLE, Massive Attack, Portishead and Warp Records sense for forward thinking luminaries and you’d get close to what’s filling our collective head-space and hopefully seeping through the music. We are essentially experimenting with making electronic music that is performed live.

If you could be compared to any group, who would it be and why?

Our ambient track ‘Beat the Happy Pavement’ has been compared to Pantha Du Prince. Some of other stuff has a harder more jammed out krauty Kraftwerk meets NIN (without the angsty lyrics) vibe.

Who do you think people will compare you to?

While being compared to people you admire is lovely when it happens, we’re trying to carve our own niche. Who we are as a band is becoming clearer the more songs we write and by touring together. Obviously, like any band, we are the amalgamation of filtered influences. I hope people find it hard to compare us to other bands or box us in.

Who would you say are the central influences on the group?

We’ve grown up with varied taste that could loosely fit under the umbrella of alternative. As we’ve matured as musicians become more interested in the new technologies available and incorporated sampling and beat-making while still being a ‘band’ rather than DJs. I like artists like Primal Scream, Beck, Radiohead and Bjork that can start off doing one thing and end up changing into something completely different. People are willing to follow them on their artistic journey because they trust that where it leads will be interesting.

Like most of the industry at this time, the old models are breaking down and new hybrid forms are taking shape. I think we fit within this philosophy. You don’t necessarily have to be one thing or the other these days. We just ‘are’. Our influences come from artists of all realms that trusted what they were doing even if it didn’t make sense at the time and pursued their vision to its conclusion. It’s the job of every new generation to break down what was laid out before them and make their own rules.

You are about to launch the single with a gig at the Workers Club – what can people expect from Tantrums live?

Live VJing by James Wright, two boys, two girls, a couple of laptops and controllers, a home-made circuit board synth, a guitar, bass, drums and two keyboards. Freshly printed t-shirts featuring a design by the one who got all the talent: Oliver Hunter.

Good buds: Pets with Pets. Sydney electronic musician extraordinaire Cleptoclectics. Crumbs playing his electronic compositions live (think bedroom producer a la Baths or Mount Kimbie but from Melbourne!!) and WORNG noodling with his modular synth and downbeat electro rhythms between sets.

Do you alter your sound between live and recorded?

Yeah there are some things you can do in the studio that you just can’t do live. That said we try to stay as true to the song as possible. The studio is also a big part of our writing process and often informs how the programmed stuff will be structured live.

Which do you prefer – performance or record?

They are two entirely different art-forms. I’d have to say nothing compares to the thrill of a live show. The studio is much more finicky, cerebral and process driven.

What is the key to a great set?

Knowing the songs well enough to let go and be taken away in the moment. Losing all self-awareness and working on muscle memory and instinct.

If you were each a different identity within the unit – similar to the cheesy pop bands of the 90s – what would your individual identities be…

James would definitely be the goof (or Harrison Ford- Star Wars era for the resemblance), John would be the cutie-pie brain, Jade would be the saucy rock chick front woman and I’d be Daria.

Tantrums launch “Anomie” on November 25 at The Workers Club, Fitzroy, Victoria.

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1 Comment

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by The Kaje, Perspectic News. Perspectic News said: Perspectic News: The Kaje Talks “Anomie” To Tantrums « The Kaje: How the band name is perceived is always inform… http://bit.ly/bU2S8C […]


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