Django Django talk going back to basics on new album Marble Skies...
From the moment they arrived in 2012 with their self-titled debut album, Django Django have established themselves as a band like no other.
Mixing art rock with strands of psychedelia, electronica and folk, they’re rather fond of a weird time signature, love an epic tangent and possess an endless thirst for experimentalism.
Their third album Marble Skies arrives this week and we spoke to the band’s frontman Vincent Neff about making the album, why the band wanted to simplify things and collaborating with Metronomy’s Anna Prior and Slow Club’s Rebecca Taylor…
How did you want this album to move on from Born Under Saturn?
“We wanted to change some basic things. With Born Under Saturn, we felt a bit like magpies, we took all our ideas, all the songs we had and we put it all on the record. We didn’t edit as well as we could have done, we were listening to our friends and people we work with and everybody seemed to have a different favourite song so we put them all on there, it was this big melting pot.”
So how did you want to change that approach?
“On this one, we set ourselves the goal of a single vinyl. Having that time limit in place meant we had to get things down, we wanted it to be 10 tracks and to edit it down a lot better. That was the nuts and bolts. We also wanted to inject some more energy into the vocals, to make them more emotional and more dynamic. We wrote differently too. Last time we were writing in the studio and we were surrounded by so many great gadgets, it was a bit overwhelming.”
You’ve got your own studio now, haven’t you?
“It’s in Tottenham and it’s basically a big bedroom. We didn’t use a producer this time, Dave (Maclean, drummer) did this one and that meant we had a lot more control. We were able to really get stuck in, move everything around and make as many changes as we liked. When you’ve got to go through a producer, all that takes a lot longer.”
If you were set on getting it down to a single LP, did that mean you had to cut a lot of songs?
“Yeah, we ended up with 18 or 19 in the end, so we’ve got another album’s worth to go back to. The tracks that didn’t make were sat out by themselves, one of them is this strange acid-y kind of thing, which didn't fit, and then we had a few acoustic tracks. That might become its own EP, we’re talking about that. So we had a few oddities and we wanted a tracklisting that flowed, tracks that bled into each other. More like a mixtape.”
Did the whole band agree on which tracks to leave out?
“We were all okay. Generally, if somebody has a really strong opinion on a track, we’ll go with that. You have to pick your battles in a band. We had a lot of variation to choose from, we had the tracks mixed by a few different people, but the final tracks fell into place quite easily.”
What kind of album is this lyrically? Do you think there’s a theme running through it?
“I think there a couple of themes. You’re never really conscious of it when you’re writing it, but listening back they are there. The passing of time seems to be a big one on this album, time getting away from you, I don’t know if that’s just getting older, but it comes up a lot!”
What’s the other?
“Heat! Lots of climatic references. There are tracks that talk about lots of hot stuff. I think it’s because our studio didn’t have air conditioning and we recorded in the summer so we were baking hot. That seems to have filtered into the lyrics a lot.”
When did you settle on the title? And was it always the title?
“That was the only one, the only viable one, I can’t remember any others. Marble Skies have us some good ideas for the cover art, that sky and balloon on the cover. It tied in well with the tracks we had and it was there from quite early on. It was an image we were able to move towards.”
How did you come to work with Anna Prior from Metronomy?
“We toured a lot with Metronomy when they were doing The English Riviera and we’re always bumping into them at festivals, so we know them really well. Anna lives right by where we’re based and she’s a brilliant fun. We needed her because Dave wanted to go away and travel for a few months after we’d finished touring the second album and me, Jim (Dixon, bassist) and Tommy (Grace, keyboards) wanted to get on with new songs. We gave her a bell and got her in. It was good to have a drummer with a different take, it breathed some freshness into our writing.”
You’ve got Rebecca Taylor from Slow Club on there too…
“We met her back in 2012 at South By South West. Dave has been working with her on new Self Esteem project and we’d come up with this track that had a melody that felt more feminine. I had a crack at singing it and it sounded okay, but not great, and we liked the idea of a feature and including something different. It locked in really well. We’ve always liked how Massive Attack and Primal Scream break up their albums with a female vocal and we wanted one.”
Finally, how are your touring plans shaping up? Is 2018 filled with festivals?
“This year, not so much. We got the first single out in October and most of the festivals were already booked, so the main batch of festivals will be 2019. We’re going to be touring a lot though. We’re looking at South America and doing more in Russia and the rest of Eastern Europe. We’re conscious too of wanting to keep our hand in with the next record and how much we do. But we’re working it all out now.”