The elegantly subdued sonic world of Two People – Phoebe Lou and Joey Clough, formerly of triple j Unearthed High-winning group Snakadaktal – is as delicately immersive as it is entirely transportive. We asked the duo about their debut album, First Body.
You’ve said that the big space you rented in Melbourne “almost… defined [the] album.” Before this, did you think of your music as being anchored in (or contoured by) a physical place?
Joey: No, I hadn’t consciously thought of our music as being anchored to certain spaces, but looking back now I realise how affecting the spaces we worked in were. We recorded parts of the record in our bedrooms, in warehouses, and in our studio. These all shaped the sound and feeling of the record; sometimes the actual recorded sound itself and sometimes the energy or mood of the performance.
Why did you decide to start the project with writing a manifesto? Was there anything in particular about the way your previous project Snakadaktal progressed which you wanted to avoid, or have more control over?
Phoebe: Yeah, ‘control’ is the word here. This project is a really personal one for us, and if we’re going to pour our whole lives into something it’s got to be right, you know? That’s really important. The thinking was to create a core/heart which we could always come back to. We’ve learnt that it’s necessary in this industry – in the madness of it all, and even in the creativity. We just sort of had this feeling we would be doing it for a long time, and for that to be sustainable we needed to be really clear from the get-go. I think it’s also just in our nature: when we’re creating something we have to write it all down.
Did distilling things in this way ever feel at odds with your more improvisational elements?
P: No, because I think even an improvisation needs a particular set of boundaries or guidelines. In order for it to be good, worthwhile, you know, it has to belong to a moment and that moment has to come from an intention.
Which giants or obscurities of visual art are your favourites, which may have influenced the very cinematic sound you’ve evoked?
J: Picking favourites is really hard but some visual artists that inspire us or have influenced our sound and visuals are Bill Henson, Experimental Jetset and Vaughan Oliver.
Across the album there’s the spirit of Massive Attack and other sensual electronica bands which refuse to hurry, or unnecessarily embellish. Do you two ever feel the pressure to over-decorate?
J: Yes, it’s always hard to not overdo things, especially when we are involved in all aspects of the record – but you can quickly hear when things have gone too far. Often we’ll listen back to things and go ‘Nup: this, this and this are not necessary,’ and we cut it. We find minimalism really exciting.
First Body is out now via Liberation.
Read our review of the album.