Yamba-based indie-electronic group Nocturnal Tapes have been rather busy of late. With the release of their debut EP ‘Visions IV’ which came out late August. Throughout September the duo stopped in each capital city supporting none other than synth magician Luke Million. Since the touring has died down we took the time to catch up with Nocturnal Tapes to reflect on the Ep and what inspires them as artists.
Atmospheric, groovy, and rich on the high end. What inspires the music of Nocturnal tapes? How is your sound developed?
The sounds and concepts we present in our music reflect how we are feeling at the time. A song can start to be written at any given time such as during a rehearsal, alone in the studio or with headphones on in bed. Inspiration can strike at any given moment which is kinda the magic of creating a song. We both listen to so many different styles and eras of music not just something that could be similar to us, so we draw on the feelings and sounds these artists give us.
‘Hybrid’ bands like Jungle, LCD Soundsystem or Tame Impala and more alternative electronic artists like Caribou, Joe Goddard or Soulwax through to music that we grew up on like Talking heads just to name a few are all a constant inspiration with their music and passion. Our instruments and new technology also help to develop and shape our sound through constant experimentation and love for playing with sound. Combining organic sounds with electronic ones have always been something we are interested which usually results in something we both like to listen to ourselves.
In the world of electronic and dance music, we often encounter duos. What is the story of Nocturnal Tapes? Were you friends before forming? Or did the music push you together?
We both grew up in a really small village near Yamba called Wooloweyah, and we knew of each other through friends and because the place is just so small. We were both doing separate musical projects and would jam together with our friends on the weekends. At that time we both had a clear difference in what we brought to those jams which sparked the idea to produce a track together.
This first track also featured Harry’s brother Jack on bass and had a much darker and slower feel but was the start of the Nocturnal Tapes sound. What followed was writing sessions focused on playing live rather than produced tracks ‘in the box’ so we could play a local festival called Salty Sounds curated by one of our friends in Yamba. We continued to write in this way for around a year, playing gigs locally before taking out the National University Band Competition in 201…..
Is there anything noteworthy behind the name Nocturnal Tapes it does seem like some thought was involved?
We had been throwing around so many different ideas back and forth and nothing felt like it fit. At the time Lachie had been reading about and watching old doco’s about the history of recorded music and how recording onto MAGNETIC TAPE affected the end product. We had also been experimenting with Plug-in emulations of these classic tape machines such as the STUDOR A800 and the AMPEX ATR-102 and loved the character they gave certain sounds and groups of sounds.
We still weren’t completely sold on the name but knew it was close. Harry came back with NOCTURNAL TAPES that night after a realisation that the music suited a night vibe and almost all of our work was done after the sun went down and deep into the night. The combination of these two ideas fit perfectly with what we were feeling the band was about at that particular time.
Indie Electro has been a premium genre in Australia since the early 2000’s groups like Van She, Cut Copy you could even include The Presets and Midnight Juggernauts. Each of the groups carried (still do to an extent) a distinct sound. How are next generation groups like yourself building upon what has already been created and making it your own?
Experiencing these above-mentioned bands as part of a crowd at a festival makes you realise what these sounds and dance vibes give you. You are part of a ride that the band takes you on and its this feeling we love to share with audiences at our shows and through our recorded music. When writing, playing our instruments and experimenting we like to think about how the music will e.g. translate on a stage, listening intently on headphones or hearing it out at a party with a group of friends. These thoughts help to make songs sound a specific way and give a specific feeling through the lyrics.
How long had you guys been working on Visions IV? The EP is now released are you happy with the final product? Is it an accurate representation of where you guys are in your life (musically and privately)? Did you have other tracks you decided to leave off Visions IV?
We had these songs on the backburner for a while, we had been playing half of them live already so we had known for quite a while what songs would be on this EP. I think it is an accurate representation of where we were musically at the time of writing but even before this EP was released we had been working on new material, easily enough for another EP Which we are really excited about and it feels like another solid step forward.
I don’t think we could ever feel like a song is 100% perfect and it’s done, but we felt it was time to get these songs out and move forward. Wake up was actually going to be left off the EP but a week before we finished recording we decided it would be one of the lead singles.
‘Wake Up’ despite the dreamscape feel of the song it, however, draws on the awareness of death of mortality. What inspired the songwriting process? Did you go back and forth with the idea or either of you instantly knew you were on to something?
The music came first on this song and I felt it had a euphoric feel to it but at the same time it had this nostalgia but in a sad way where you are looking back on your life, and both missing great times and great things you’ve done and feeling regretful for not having more of those memories. So that pushed me to write this song as a motivation for myself, to get out there and start making things happen! Nobody is going to look back on their life fondly thinking about the thousands of hours they spent scrolling Facebook.
What keeps Nocturnal Tapes from producing more streamline dance music? Like house or techno. Is it the instrumental presence in your music? Or does it derive from your influences when starting out and keeping true to your own sound? Are you open to experimentation as Nocturnal Tapes?
I think its simply because we aren’t trying to make any genre of music we just make the music that comes to us with whatever gear we have around us. We are 100% open to experimentation that’s something we want to pursue further and further, making unique sounds out of basically anything. We are really into painting a picture in the backgrounds of our songs. On the EP there is all kinds of sound design as well as many found sounds in the background of the tracks such as bird calls, train sounds, bottles smashing, ocean and cave field recordings etc.
In such a short time you guys have made a strong local following and have toured and performed with some accredited names in Australian music. It must be a good feeling to turn heads after a year of notoriety with the national fans. If you were to pick apart your music as a fan what makes Nocturnal Tapes strike a chord with the listener?
Coming to a Nocturnal Tapes show you are always going to hear extended jams of our songs from how they are recorded. We have always been fans ourselves of bands who can take a song you know to somewhere else and still feel like the show has the right flow. Creating new intros with atmospheres, our favourite spoken words or tweaking our instruments is always an exciting part of our show and we have a lot of fun thinking about how an audience will react to them and changing it up accordingly from show to show.