It's all working out
Muscle tone: Bicep, aka Andy Ferguson and Matt McBriar
Belfast duo Bicep shot to the top of the retro-tinged house pile in 2012, and they’re all all set to take things to another level in 2013, they tell IAN MALENEY
2012 was a big year for you, were you happy with how it all went?
2012 was awesome, a complete rollercoaster from start to finish. We could never have guessed in January when we released our Blondes remix where we would have ended up by September. We’ve gone from worrying if we’ll be able to get enough gigs to sustain producing music full time to now worrying about getting enough time off gigs to actually produce music, which isn’t really a bad headache to have.
Through your blog and in interviews, you seem quite attached to an idea of “classic” house and techno, like there was a golden period some time around the early 1990s.
Do you think that’s the case? What do you think makes that era so special?
Our tastes span very wide but with the whole ’90s buzz last year, we certainly played towards it, probably a little more than if nobody had been into it – it’s also thoroughly fun to delve into the past. For us it wasn’t specifically early ’90s; more just a time when music was fully analogue. A lot of music became very thin and “clean” around 2000. We are currently trying to move all our music across to fully analogue.
We’ve also real love for heavy contemporary techno, feeling current artists like Trevino, Delroy Edwards and Shed. At the same time, we still love our camp disco – I suppose the classic house vibe worked very well last year. For us, the reason is that it’s so positive and carefree. I think music had become rather serious with the whole minimal techno and dust-up crazes, and people wanted a release from that. Something fun that girls enjoyed dancing to.
Do you see innovation as an important part of the producer’s task? To what extent do you, or can you, update the more established sounds given how much has happened in the years since?
Great question. There are certainly cases where you can be a bit of everything and mix it up. It’s perfectly acceptable for producers to sometimes create pastiche tracks and at other times totally forward-thinking tracks. Some of our releases last year were a real tip of the cap to nostalgic old memories, and digging back through the past was an important step in creating our sound.
We do agree that innovation is key to keeping the scene fresh – at present techno is as forward thinking as ever. Levon Vincent, one of our favourite producers, is constantly pushing boundaries and has created a highly unique style over the past five years.
Of course it’s going to be impossible for stuff to feel as fresh as 20 years ago when the first techno tracks were being made, as it was all completely unknown then.
I know it’s been a long time since you’ve lived there, but has your relationship to Belfast changed over the last while? Do you get back much?
We both absolutely love Belfast, it’s a place of extremes. Some of the funniest, loudest, maddest people we know are from Belfast and it’s always a complete pleasure to come home and play there. We’ve a very strong group of friends still there and get home as often as possible. To be honest though, our current position isn’t often the topic of conversation when we go home, it’s always just about settling back into normality and partying a good bit.
What are you most looking forward to in 2013? Any special gigs or releases lined-up?
We’re really looking forward to developing our sound a lot. Like anyone, we do get bored of stuff and like to keep moving. Currently, we’re producing stuff that’s heavier, a lot deeper and with less vocals. We’ve just finished remixes for John Talabot’s label Hivern Discs and a full 4-track techno EP for AUS.
We’re currently putting the finishing touches to the next release on our own label which is going to include some slowed-down jungle influences and a much tougher techno vibe, and finally we’re also working on the remix for the mighty MCDE.