Interview: Five minutes with Larch

Experimental electronic duo Larch hails from Cardiff of Wales, where they came together to create what can only be described as “sonic anarchy”, in an attempt to cling to the remnants of their sanity. The two have just released their new single ‘A Mirror in Ultraviolence’ via sinc(x) Records on 8 November, which heralds the upcoming EP, The World is Dangerous; Go Outside (to be released on 22 November). The track focusses on self-actualisation within a decaying world and, despite the serious subject matter, manages to strike a very light note.

Seeking inspirations consequential subject matter is not unusual for Larch as the two addressed humanity in an automated world with their debut EP last year. Subsequent to this, they turned their eyes to Europe’s domineering past, which was explored in a live set composition. Finally, Larch was commissioned to create an exhibition sound piece, Stillness; Despair. Movement; Despair! for The Maiden, an exhibition in Cardiff’s Ruin Gallery.

Following their latest release, we decided to sit down with the two unorthodox musicians and learn what else could be lurking within their minds. Check out our exclusive interview with them below. 

Set the tone for us. Why the arts?

We were both drawn to the arts from a young age. I guess for us it’s a way of questioning just about anything – it helps us all empathize with others. Art transcends language, and the feelings that art can evoke doesn’t discriminate any one individual for any reason. It’s also really fun. What’s not to love about it!?

Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea?

Sometimes we’ll think about a process, a way of setting up an effects chain or chopping a sample. Sometimes we’ll have a beat or a melody and build on that. Often when we are writing we’ll have a concept to work to – as we said, it’s nice to explore myriad concepts and these inform the structure and style of our records.

Does your material feature any collaborations?

None of our release to date have been collaborations. However, we are back in the studio working on an album and have two super talented Cardiff producers and vocalists guesting on some tracks. We are super excited about chopping and screwing with the vocals and really developing our approach in that way. It’s something that we have never done before and it’s going to be fun to see what we can achieve.

What’s on your current playlist?

At the moment the new Giant Swan tunes are getting regular plays; the new record from H.Takahashi called Sonne und Wasser on Where to Now? is really beautiful; Loraine James, For You And I on Hyperdub is exquisite and raw and lastly, the Barker record on Ostgut Ton is pretty sublime!

Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage.

In the few shows we’ve done we have had really good feedback from people regarding our energy on stage – to a degree, when we are playing out we are in the music and take a journey with it; hopefully, this sets the scene for the people to follow. We’re really looking forward to taking our music into a live setting a lot more in 2020.

What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound?

The techniques change from track to track – we have some specific plug-ins and hardware which are ‘go-to’. We also work from a wide array of samples and the processing is often dependant on the song or the sample. We sometimes work to collect a super consistent and deep sound pallet and compose form there. Occasionally, we may think of an effects chain and set up the song and watch it morph and decay. We love to make our tracks tear apart, and we have a specific way of chaining effects to create that sensation.

Take us through a day in the recording studio.

Usually, we have a coffee and chat about whatever stage of the record we are at, we then get to work. We try to work in hour slots with a good 15 minutes break in between (often with more coffee) to give our ears a break. We try not to overwork anything and both have a veto on tracks we aren’t feeling! If we both don’t love what’s being done it generally gets scrapped! At the end of the day, we may have a mix to dust off the cobwebs!

Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”?

Matt: I think we’ve both felt like this for as long as we can remember. I think for me, in terms of electronic music it was probably hearing either the first solo Thom York record (The Eraser), the First Mount Kimbie record, ‘Crooks and Lovers’, or the 116 and Rising compilation on Hessel audio that really got me hooked! 

Kai: My Dad has always pushed his music taste onto me, and so I grew up with punk and Pink Floyd. By the time I was in University I had discovered the likes of Exit Records, and so my movement into electronic music really accelerated when the Autonomic zeitgeist was at its peak. From then on creating electronic music became an obsession.

What do you keep close by while you’re playing a set?

Probably a beer and a towel.

Any emerging artists on your radar?

We’re lucky enough to be in an awesome and developing scene in Cardiff and Bristol, including artists like Shift, E B U, Minus, Mogan, Massa Circles, and Teddy Hunter.

What gets your creative juices flowing?

Anything can, but you must be working when the inspiration strikes, as they say. So mostly working hard! We can go weeks without developing an idea that we love, and then a single event can cause everything to fall into place.

Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression.

We currently use a Blofeld, Moog Minitaur, Novation Nova and a Korg Electribe, both in the studio and live. We also have a go-to plugin, Redux, which is a super powerful sampler – Matt always uses the Native Instruments Replika and Kai is the master of drum programming! We use loads and loads of automation on our tracks to really create movement!

Any side projects you’re working on?

Kai is always making drum and bass bangers on the side, and Matt is usually making something nauseating and experimental. Neither of us are at a stage to release these yet, they may find their way into a mix on occasion. We also produce more ambient works under the moniker ‘I am Become Ego Death; Destroyer of Worlds’. Maybe those recordings will rear their heads one day…

How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry?

We grow and improve every time we finish a record – finishing records is key. It’s amazing how much you improve as a producer simply by having the wherewithal and patience to finish a record. To add to this, the more we write, the sooner we know whether an idea will work or not.

Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you this year?

We are super excited to release, ‘The World is Dangerous; Go Outside’. After that, we will be focussing a lot on trying to play out live more. We also have a large portion of our next record sketched out, which is an album. In terms of sinc(x) Records, we have a couple of releases lined up from artists in our community, and we hope to get those pushed out in 2020.

Famous last words?

The World is Dangerous; Go Outside!

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