Interview: Django Django
If you want to ensure people remember your band, naming yourselves twice is a pretty good tactic. Producing a storming album is another. Django Django ought to linger in the mind tank, then; especially as they’ve just unveiled an eponymous debut that sounds like some wonderful, danceable hybrid of The Beta Band and Franz Ferdinand.
We cornered lead singer Vinny for a quick catch-up. See what he had to say below!
Congratulations on the album! Can you tell us a little bit about the writing and recording process please?
A lot of the early tracks were originally Dave and myself, before Tommy and Jim came into the fold. I would take little riffs, melodies and initial sketches of lyrical ideas to Dave, who has a good DJing, dance music and production head. We'd start messing around with them, change them to unusual tempos, figure out what instrument was best-suited, run through lyrics over and over, and then start recording in his bedroom. I'd come back a few days later and Dave would have pieced it together. We'd look at what he'd done and then refine it some more until we had a track.
If you had to pick a standout track on the record, which would it be and why?
‘Zumm Zumm’. It’s a track that we could never replicate the recording of, even if we tried: it could only have occurred on a particular afternoon in Dave’s cottage on the West Coast of Scotland about two years ago. We can’t actually remember what a lot of the sounds are. I played an idea to Tommy, who completely misinterpreted what I was getting at but came up with something much better, and then Dave jumped on board and built the rhythm and dubbed effects. It kind of just happened there and then. I like the conga groove and sense of optimism.
The album’s a brilliant synthesis of disparate musical styles, which suggests a broad range of influences! Which artists unite and divide you as a band? And who do you see as your musical peers?
Yeah, we like a lot of different types of stuff. We're united by the likes of Bo Diddley, Giorgio Moroder, Link Wray, Silver Apples and John Carpenter. I don't think we see ourselves as being part of a musical zeitgeist necessarily, but we know and appreciate a lot of friends’ bands and label mates, such as Veronica Falls, Metronomy, Connan Mockasin and Trailer Trash Tracys, who we see about our neighbourhood quite often.
Can you define your sound in one sentence?
Tramp-rock mixed with booze, broads and barbershop.
We understand you met in Edinburgh a decade ago but formed in London in 2008. What was the trigger that finally made you form the band?
Dave moving to London was a big catalyst. I'd moved down a year later and I got in touch soon after he got down. I think we'd both got bored of what we were doing musically: him with making dance tracks without the song element, me with writing song ideas on a dictaphone and it going no further. Once he'd settled in, we had a pint, talked things over, realised there was common ground and then made a track. We put it up on Myspace and it got a good little reaction so made another, and so on until we got gig offers, which is when we enlisted the help of Tommy and Jim.
While we were playing a lot of gigs, trying to master the live side of things, we'd write and record more songs. Then we built our studio, released a few singles and then the last year and a half has been mainly dedicated to getting the album wrapped up. We did it in Dave's bedroom so it’s taken a bit longer than if we went into a professional studio with thousands of pounds worth of equipment. But it’s allowed us to do the record the way we wanted to do it.
What’s the inspiration behind your name?
Dave came up with it. It wasn't really a reference to Django Reinhardt: it came from a dance record Dave had called 'Son of Django'. He was into the double name idea (like Liquid Liquid) so he doubled up the "Django" and asked me what I thought. I thought it sounded exotic and fun to say, so the name was born.
John's has been a good sounding board for when we’ve needed advice from someone outside of the band. I think he just said to trust your gut feeling when it comes to decision making, which is the most important thing.
We're considering remix and dubs ideas for our next single releases but [there’s] nothing solid yet. We quite enjoyed doing ‘Drumforms’, which was a B-side and a stripped-back, dub version of ‘Waveforms’. I think we'll do more of these. Dave does the remixes but, yeah, he's keen to get some of these going again now that the album is out and we have more time.
What informed your decision to sign with a French indie? And what’s been the best thing about working with Because Music so far?
We liked the diversity on the roster: Metronomy, Connan Mockasin, Justice etc. Also, when we met them the Director said, “We like what you’re doing, so just keep doing it in the same way,” which was great to hear. Before that, we were scared that if we went with a label they might try and make us start again and work with a named producer. It’s the best of both worlds because they have a UK office too, so we get to travel between London and Paris.
What’s been your favourite record of the past twelve months?
I’m not just saying this because he's a label mate, but Connan Mockasin’s. I came across him in about 2006. I was walking across a field at Green Man and stopped in my tracks when I heard him play. I liked Peaking Lights’ last album too.
Aside from your album, whose record should we be looking forward to this year?
What are your plans for 2012? Will we be seeing you at any festivals?
Yes, we've just confirmed Field Day in London and Away Game on the West Coast of Scotland (the other half of Home Game by The Fence Collective) . There’ll be some European dates too. We're just going to mix playing live with getting in our studio and writing more music.
What are your ultimate ambitions for the band?
I'd like to do more albums, try to offer something unexpected and keep evolving musically. If we do that I'll be happy.