Michelle Considine and Harry Bookless grow from a Record Store Gay one-off to become a fully fledged electronic duo.
Did you have any plans for the band beyond the Record Store Gay Human League cover?
Yeah we'd talked about doing music together for a good while. While working together in Little Xs For Eyes we realised we wanted to do really similar things musically. I was into doing lots of experimental vocal/synthy stuff that was dancey and also laid back and wanted to work with someone on it. Harry had been working on experimental beats and found sounds which I was really into so it just naturally happened. We did the Human League cover to see how we would work together without having to write a whole new song and it worked out really well. We just swap recordings back and forth and keep adding to them until we sit down towards the end together to mix it. When it came out on the compilation people responded really well to it so that gave us the push to keep working on our own songs.
Would that kind of experimental pop music be an influence?
Yes, The Human League are a massive influence for us, which is why we picked it. I love stripped back, late 70s, early 80s music, and electronic new wave bands/musicians like Gary Numan, Japan, Giorgio Moroder have inspired me since I was really young. Then also the likes of Bjork, especially albums like Medúlla with all the vocal experimentation and other later Italo disco stuff from the likes of Johnny Jewels, Glass Candy and Chromatics are big inspirations. In recent years, Holly Herndon and her complex digital and electronic vocal experimentation has had a big impact on me.
We both have a shared love of 80s experimental pop. When I start writing a beat for Colour Canyon I think about bands like Kraftwerk or New Order and their approach to minimal simple rhythms. I always like when someone comes along who has done something different and interesting with pop music, like FKA Twigs or Bat For Lashes.
How does the Colour Canyon sound compare to Little Xs and Carriages?
M: Well the three are all very different and similar bands at the same time. I think with Little Xs For Eyes the vocal experimentation was always there. It was probably a bit more pop and we might be a bit darker/hazier, and then with Carriages you can see similarities in certain beats and things but our aim for Colour Canyon is to be really experimental and I think we are going more in that direction now. (I do miss playing the Little Xs' glockenspiel though, I may have to throw some into the mix in some way!)
H: While Little Xs For Eyes was very much a pop band, Colour Canyon definitely takes its influence from a slightly darker side of electro-pop music. For me, playing in Colour Canyon and Carriages, two small, two-piece bands with no drum kits or amplifiers to be seen, is definitely a reaction to a life-time spent in loud rehearsal rooms trying to hear what you're playing over the sound of a crash cymbal and a distortion pedal. With Colour Canyon, I try to be minimal with my side of the instrumentation, keeping lots of space for Michelle to layer up her vocals and synths afterwards.
What was the best gig you played in 2016?
M: It was definitely the Oxjam stage at Electric Picnic with our favourites Homebeat. Homebeat gave us our first gig and Emmet Condon has been as supportive as always in his tireless work of promoting new Irish bands/music. It was great to get the chance to play Electric Picnic, it’s a lovely little stage and always good fun.
H: The Electric Picnic gig was great fun. It was very quick but nice and relaxed and we had a nice crowd at it. We waited with baited breath for the timetable to come out, fearing we'd be clashing with LCD Soundsystem, but luckily we had enough time to pack away our gear and get to the main stage to see them.
What are you looking forward to in 2017?
Well we've just bought a house and we made sure it had a big spare room for a music studio, so we're really excited about having a space to fit all our gear and really get stuck into doing new music together. We've a few songs in progress at the moment and are hoping to release more early in the year. We'd also like to get some form of vinyl out by the end of the year (what exactly? You'll have to wait and see!). We're also going to get ourselves a puppy.
“Up the duos!” (New Portals)