Repeat Button recently caught up with Barney, one half of Sydney’s producing duo Wordlife for a chat about their current projects and pending wor(l)d domination.
RB – Congratulations on your current tour, the release of the Breakthrough EP and signing to Modular Records! How did that come about?
WL – Breakthrough is the first release on Modular Records. Last year we released an EP called Vision through Motorik Records which got a lot of airplay on Triple J and as a result caught the attention of Modular. We had a meeting with them in January and we’re now signed to Club Mod which is Modular’s 12 inch, dance based, club label so we’re doing 2 singles for that.
RB – In comparison to Vision, Breakthrough has a very different sound and feel to it. Was that a conscious decision to make a departure from techno?
WL – Yeh. We’re quite bored in terms of what type of music we want to make, so I guess sonically it’s a bit of a departure but in terms of our modus operandi of making music its not.
By that I mean we like to make music in of a whole lot of different styles and BPM’s. We see music a little retrospectively in terms of what we listened to when we started producing…(which was) artists like the Chemical brothers and Daft Punk who have always made a variety of music from Hip Hop tempo tracks to 130bpm Dance tracks.
These days though, the modern way is for artists to stick to their one style or genre and be a bit more niche in their production. We looked at that and wanted to go against it and back to a time where electronic music encompassed a wide variety of sound and depth and speed and that’s why Breakthrough and Vision sound different.
RB – So that’s the premise for your broad scope of music? You have a pretty big range of tracks; from Techno to House to Hip Hop tracks like What If and then some varied collaborations and remixes….
WL - Yeh, there’s a few examples of tracks where we completely changed the tempo and made them the opposite of their original. We know all about beats and bass from making club music so we can use that knowledge to say, slow down a dance record to become something a rapper could rap on.
And we want to make stuff that is non dance music as well. We’ve been doing some work with (vocalist) Daniel Merriweather and its something that you can listen to during the day rather than being specifically made for a club environment.
RB – So you don’t have many limitations? Whatever you’re inspired by you just go with?
WL - I think there’s definitely motifs in our music that transcend being classified by just BPM or style. All of our music has a synthesizer technology aspect to it that is then also combined with a human element. The common link between Breakthrough and Vision is that they both feature vocals and those vocals reflect the humanity of it. We don’t just want to be cold, instrumental and disconnected we want it to be fun and have that fusion of humanity. Probably a lot of that human element comes from sampling ‘black music’ like RnB records and old soul records
RB – What is your own taste in music like? Is it eclectic and is it reflective of the fact that you guys are pretty broad in your producing?
WL- Definitely. We listen to all types of music. As DJ’s as well; both Adam and I play at a whole lot of different places, not as Wordife but as Kato and Adam so sometimes we’ll play Funk & Soul and sometimes we’ll play Hip Hop, House or Techno…so having to be across all of that definitely informs what we do with Wordlife.
RB – In terms of playing live, you’ve had a massive year; you played Field Day, lots of Motorik Records parties and alongside the 2 Bears. You also played with French Techno kings Brodinski & Gessaffelstein last year didn’t you?
WL – Yeh we did! It was our launch party for Vision and they were in town for Stereosonic and are friends with the Motorik guys so it just kind of worked out very serendipitously.
RB – What were they like to play with?
WL- It was good, they’re really nice guys and it was cool to get feedback about our music and when you find out that dudes like that enjoy what you do it’s a real buzz.
RB – What’s your set up like when you guys perform? I know that you’re both fans of vinyl…
WL – Yeh, we are but when we do live shows, unfortunately, we can’t take vinyl out. So we deconstruct all of our tracks to take out bits and then replay them on an Mp3. We have a mini key board which Adam does all the coded vocals on and the skeleton of the tracks are dj’d as well. So we sort of play a rhythm track and then Adam lays sounds over the top of that.
We also play all of our own music live. Sometimes we use small samples but for the most part its all original Wordlife production.
RB – Have you had any pivotal party moments over the last year where you’ve just stopped and had a bit of a moment?
WL - I definitely think playing before Ryan Hemsworth at Good God was one of those moments. And to be back at Good God for our own launch (of Breakthrough) almost a year later was pretty special. Launching Vision and having Gessaffelstein and Brodinski play after us was awesome too.
But in general, being able to share our music with people, especially live is great, and just even being able to go and watch DJ sets in clubs, I’ll have one of those moments then!
RB – Other than music, Wordlife is involved in other creative avenues; producing t’shirts. You released one alongside the Vision EP and then the For the Homies collaboration tee. Was that accidental?
WL- Well it started off accidentally. Motorik sort of kicked it off when they did the Vision shirt. That was really popular and we like using t’shirts as a different medium of connecting with the audience. Obviously they’re not as powerful as the music, but as yet you can’t buy any of our music on cd’s. Hopefully that will change though and our next Club Mod release will be on vinyl but I just think people like the fact that they can have something tangible from us. The t’shirt enables our listeners to show off their music taste with a lasting object. I’ve got a collection of our shirts, that I’ve not even worn just sitting in my cupboard because it reminds me of what we’ve done so having that tangible connectivity is important.
RB – Absolutely and it shows a loyalty towards Australian music and Australian producers as well. I wore my Wordlife shirt at Sonar!
WL – Sick! Thank you.
RB – So will you pursue that creative avenue of making t’shirts?
WL- Yeh, we’ll definitely pursue it. It’s a hard thing to get exactly right but its definitely something that we’ll keep doing. We have a few different ideas for merchandising and as I said we will be releasing vinyl with our next release.
RB – Are you doing a Breakthrough t’shirt?
WL – It’s a possibility. We’ve been working on t’shirts that are based on the original Vision video clip and they are almost ready to go. The same guys that did that cartoon are doing the Small Talk clip. We just finished producing that and the t’shirts will follow shortly and feature the same cartoon characters.
The For the Homies shirts are still available on our online store though and we have a big bag of them that we take to gigs with us too!
RB -What can we expect from Wordlife in the near future? Are you working on a full length album or are you touring internationally?
WL – We are working on the collaboration with Daniel Merriweather which is a bit less dance floor and a bit more vocal orientated. Then we are going over to LA to try and work with a few emerging vocalists. That could potentially be the beginnings of an album but we don’t want start work on an album for no reason, unless we have a strong musical statement to accompany it. We don’t want to rush into an album just because we’ve done a few successful singles that people could have listened to on a 12inch, I want to have something that people can listen to from start to finish.
RB- Finally, every article I’ve read about you mentions your bountiful beards. So just to clarify.. which came first, the beards or Wordlife?
WL – The Beards! By FAR!
Words – The Other Jess