This Ex Libras article was written by Jorden Pinchen, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Hazel Webster. All photos by Mickey F
“Do you want to play a game?” Amit, the lead singer of Ex Libras asks me. “Pick a word from the dictionary and use it in your interview.”
As luck would have it Plantain happens to be what I get. How on earth am I going to use Plantain in an interview with this band?
Sitting in a cosy booth at Camden’s Barfly, this London based three piece had some pretty interesting things to say about fairy kidnapping, sheds and their music.
Can you describe what Ex Libras are about to newcomers?
“We are a three piece but we try to make layers of noise, so we try to sound more than just three of us, we’re all influenced by different styles of music and in a way it’s really hard to pin down because we’re always writing something completely different. We’re not just sticking to one genre but it always ends up quite cinematic.”
You’ve had quite a long break since the last EP, what have you been doing?
“It didn’t really seem like a break for us, we were super busy writing and organising recording, finding who would be involved with it as we treated this recording slightly differently. Previously we recorded where we rehearse in a discarded shed which we spent the formative years doing up, sound proofing it etc. So we were coming out of the shed and that was an experience to just explore who we would be working with and how we would go about it. It probably took more time than we would have wanted, but it was the right amount of time and it was kind of like being kidnapped by the fairies in an Irish folk story because we came out of the fairy ring and 5 years had gone past. We lost time like an alien abduction but it seemed very short for us because something was always happening and then we look back on it and it’s like, shit it has been a long time.”
What is your creative process in making your music?
“The way this band started out was actually a jam band so we just went into a rehearsal and just played with each other and nobody comes in with anything pre-written so we just focus on improvising to each other and then whatever comes out of we then try and turn into a song. Part of that process is that it is all recorded and there may just be 20 seconds or 1 minute where it all just kind of works and that’s the basis of our song because we would never be able to remember. So it’s all just a chain of thoughts and we cut up those little bits that work.”
Your previous work has been compared to Radiohead a lot, are you big fans and are you happy about this?
“I loved Radiohead ever since I was old enough to listen to them! I think it’s a great comparison, they are a band who are always pushing in a different direction and if I wanted to be compared to anybody I would want it to be them. So in that way it’s really nice and really flattering but then when you mix everything else in and you still get compared to Radiohead it’s a bit like there is other stuff going on you know, but we did always take it as a compliment.”
I think that “Woe” is a huge progression, have you been influenced differently in creating this?
“I think a lot of the time when we first started recording in the shed we were quite frugal with a lot of the sounds we were using, the recording equipment and it was all very much DIY almost like a home birth, and then suddenly we were in this audio hospital and I think the opportunity there can dramatically change what we could do before so I think that’s where the change has come from. Going into a professional recording studio with people at your beck and call, delivering this new kind of recording into the world.”
I need to know about this “shed” that you record in…
“We spent a lot of time in that shed and it was after having a couple of rehearsals that we decided to spend a good 7/8 months, every weekend we could spare, and it was a wooden shed, it wasn’t even brick so how do you soundproof a wooden shed with all the holes and gaps? We had to build a room inside a room and spend a lot of money but it’s great you can’t hear us make a noise in it and it’s at the bottom of a garden from a house with houses either side.
That was our first release, we were like if we can build a shed we can probably do a record. Let’s give it a go! Other bands will know that the biggest hassle about being in a band is going to a rehearsal studio and then setting up all your equipment and then taking it all down again after 3 hours it just doesn’t work but we can go in there and everything is set up and we can just hit record and start playing something and that’s the best thing I think we have ever done. It has aided everything that’s come from it. We have done photoshoots in that shed, we’ve done the radar video in that shed; we’ve recorded an album in that shed!”
If you could collaborate with anyone no longer living who would it be?
“Maybe Zappa, Frank Zappa would be amazing, it would be hard but I think the way he wrote etc. is totally different from us, I mean he would score everything out and give them to musicians and do things in different time signatures and backwards and all that, it would really test us. I don’t know if we would be thankful afterwards but it would definitely be a testing time, I mean he was a genius so ahead of his time. There was this wicked video of him I saw online and he was standing in the middle and he’s got the widest eyes and the biggest smile, everybody is playing instruments and he’s just like beaming and that would be insane.”
What are you plans for the next year?
“Well the record just got released on Friday so we have come out of this period where we have just been totally entrenched in this writing and recording and finally put it out and we’re just stock taking of it. Just like wow it’s finally out and people are hearing it, people are writing about it, people really like it and we just want to build on that momentum in a way. I mean we recorded loads of songs but these are just the first 4 that we have put together and we want to put out the rest of the stuff. We’re also writing some new stuff, just as we come to release it we’ve become really creative again and some of the stuff were writing now is really new for us. As a jam band and playing together for so long you feel like you’re just doing the same thing over and over again. It’s really nice as now we feel like we are doing something new and there’s a lot of ground we still need to cover and lot of stuff we still want to do. Hopefully there will be another release at some point next year, another 4 tracks that we have already recorded and put together.