Photo Credit: Hannah Tomczyk
Following the release of their self-titled, debut album, Spang Sisters (check out our review here), we met up with the musical duo behind Spang Sisters, Rachid and Jules, to discuss their new album. Catching up with them before their set at the Moth Club in Hackney, we got to see a very different side of the band than what they present on Spang Sisters. While the EP is notable for its distinct polish (during our interview, Jules joked that he loves to get in there and quantize drums manually), their set at Hackney’s Moth Club was instead filled with a more raw, punk energy. It was rough around the edges in the best possible way and had the DIY ethos one comes to expect at venues like the Moth Club. Throughout both their interview and performance, the duo’s great personality shone through, as they never stopped cracking jokes. Both Rachid and Jules separately claimed that their favourite songs to perform were the ones where they didn’t have to sing, and when they walked out on stage the duo audibly laughed between themselves about being nervous to be back in front of an audience again. It is refreshing to watch such a talented act who, despite their talent, remain humble and do not take themselves too seriously.
Photo Credit: Hannah Tomczyk
How did you two meet, and how did you start making music together?
Rachid: We met at a rave in Southwark in 2013 or 2012, and then we both separately moved to Bristol. We started hanging out there together and just started making music really, immediately. And that was that. As soon as we met, we were harmonizing each other's hums.
What's your writing and creative process like? How do your approaches differ?
Jules: I'd say Rachid is more lyric-driven, perhaps, and I'm more chords-driven. But that's not necessarily true all the time.
Rachid: I'd say Jules is more of a perfectionist, whereas I'm more of a mess. I kind of like to, as much as possible, just do the first take. But I think actually, we're both rubbing off on one another. That's it, though, I'd say Jules’ is more of a perfectionist. I mean, he's a real wizard with Logic and he enjoys it.
Jules: That's the thing I really enjoy. I didn’t always, but I like getting in there and quantizing drums manually. Rachid: I hate doing that.
What was the process like for this album in particular?
Rachid: The songs we'd separately written over the years, and we were just finally at a point where we had time and space and the equipment to record them all in the way that we wanted to. So we just did it all from home. Did it song by song. I did all the drums the first two days, and then we went song by song.
Jules: The lockdown came at a good time, I guess.
So what are your personal favourites off the album? Which are you most excited to play live?
Jules: At the moment, I like to play ‘Thank You, Will, Shortz.’ I'm not singing any vocals, so I can indulge my session guitarist fantasies and just noodle.
Rachid: I like ‘10,645m,’ because it's quite simple and I don’t have to sing. It's just like a balls-to-the-wall, pop song. It's just fun.
I must ask, who does the guitar solo on ‘Jenny?’
Jules: You know, I went through a lot of solos for that one. Do you know Fiver? You can just pay people to render services on the internet. Sounds dodgy, but you can just like buy flute solos. I paid 15 quid for a flute solo from this guy in Amsterdam… it didn't work out. Rachid got worried I was gonna go down a Fiver rabbit hole and just blow a hundred quid, but thankfully I didn’t. The humble guitar was the right move I think.
Are you excited to play live? How do you think it will feel with social distancing rules in place?
Rachid: When people are sitting down and giving you their full, undivided attention, it's pretty off-putting. You take a lot of solace as a performer in the idea that people might be on their phones or something. It's cool though because our old set was a bit more dancey—a bit more rambunctious. This new one is a bit more refined. It’s more of a sit-down and watch kind of music.
What genre would you classify your album as?
Jules: For PR I think we said that it was dusty, folk-rock, r&b-ish.
Rachid: Yeah, usually when people ask I say soft rock—like yacht rock or 70s Japanese gutter rock.
Which musicians would you most like to jam with?
Rachid: Pino Palladino, it'd be nice to have him on the bass. Would be nice. Would be quite nice. I really like Jessica Pratt. Donald Fagan would also be pretty cool.
Jules: I’d like to be D’Angelo's backing guitarist.
What are you most excited for people to notice about the album?
Rachid: I like the lyrical subject matter. I find that it's quite a bit more mature than the older stuff. I hope that people listen and resonate with that. The arrangements are a lot more diverse too. We've got strings and brass and stuff. It's just generally got better production quality. So I'm excited for that.
Speaking of strong lyrical content. What inspired the song, ‘The Ballad of Joyce Vincent?’
Rachid: I guess it was one of those bittersweet songs that sounds happy. The original idea was for it to have a kind of fantastical, almost children’s story approach while also acknowledging the tragedy. I quite like that in songs. Like Jonathan Richmond. He writes a lot of songs that are seemingly quite happy but also have a morose, morbid undertone.
What are your band’s plans for the future?
Rachid: Well, we have an album’s worth of material now, so we're gonna just record that as soon as possible. It's been a very productive year in terms of writing so we just want to get it all out as quickly as possible. Because, to be honest, on the album that we just dropped, one of the songs is like seven years old. We kind of feel almost past it already.
If you could describe Spang Sisters in one sentence what would you say?
Jules: Cool guys.
Rachid: World’s first band.
Jules: We’re just doing our best.
Photo Credit: Hannah Tomczyk