TWO PEOPLE Breaking the silence

Melbourne duo Two People (AKA Phoebe Lou and Joey Clough) are picking up the pace with the release of their second full length album Second Body. It’s a personal and enchanting delve into a sonic universe that feels incomparable to anything but it’s predecessor, First Body, which came out last year.  CAITLIN NORRIS spoke to vocalist Phoebe Lou about Two People’s shift in sound, working with a producer for the first time and the inevitable effects of COVID-19 on their journey.

Second Body feels fast. Especially in comparison to First Body and even down to the length of these new songs. Was there anything conscious about this shift? Both the transition into what feels to be more electronica-leaning and the pace in general? Or do you feel this was just a product of your certainty going in?

To boil it down, I think the shift in our approach was really just a reaction to the process we’d been through on the last record. That release took a lot longer than we had planned, and there was a long period of time there and that had a pretty heavy affect on us both. We were feeling frustrated by some of those existing structures in the music industry, where timelines inevitably get pushed back and pushed back.

That was hard on us because in a way it stopped us from evolving and left us in this limbo land as humans. Because for us as songwriters, we really rely on that sense of “release” to move on with our lives and write the next song. This all materialised in our approach to the new album. It was all about momentum and not being stuck. Maybe in some ways it was also an inevitable shift, like bound to happen, part of our creative journey, you know?

How difficult was the decision to initially bring in (producer) Simon Lam after producing the first record yourselves? Did you have any hesitancy giving up that control or did you find relief in the surrender?

Getting Simon on board was actually really natural, it just made sense. When we were writing this record, we had already decided to get a producer in to help us out. This freed us up and took the pressure off. It was about inviting in another pair of ears. Of course it had to be the right person though, and we were lucky to find that in Simon really quickly. Conceptually we started creating the “world” of Second Body pretty much straight after the first album was out. 

Second Body feels very genre-neutral and unique. It toys with so many elements that it’s impossible to tie it down as one thing. What kind of influences did you bring into the studio? Were there any deliberate incorporations of sounds and vibes from specific artists, genres or decades?

To be honest we weren’t really listening to anything while we wrote and recorded the album. Inevitably our influences come through as nods here and there, but it was more about giving each track it’s own identity that was serving the song. Maybe that’s more traditional in a songwriting sense. It’s more about the story and less about the genre or palate.

For each of you, which track do you connect with the most from Second Body?

Phoebe: Probably Breaking The Silence. I like how the feeling is dark and light at the same time.
Joey: Under The Hood. For some reason I always come back to it.

I’d probably be remiss not to touch on the pandemic and its effects on the industry. Did you find that lockdown and isolation created more opportunities for connection with your fans? And was there ever any hesitancy in releasing the album when touring and promoting it in traditional ways was predominantly off the table?

It’s been different for sure. I think the hardest part was not being able to spend any time together around the release. It was just all online and there was something super unsatisfying about that. The way that music comes in and comes out is already abstract and fickle enough, so for me it’s important to really mark those moments where I can.

We played cards online and had a drink though, so that was nice. In terms of delaying the release though, we weren’t gonna let that happen. I feel like financially there could be reasons to hold off on it due to all the restrictions, but for us it was just so important to have the reigns and get it out there when it felt right. And now more than ever, people really need things to help them connect, and music is especially good at that.

Your socials often have interesting and unique visuals accompanying your musical releases. What’s your process for visuals and photography usually like?

We’ve always had a really DIY approach with our visuals and we’re always hell bent on making something unique that kind of compliments the sound. We treat every release like it’s own world and usually we spend a while with the ideation of it all. Once we’ve experimented a bit and formed a clear enough idea of what we’re going to do we usually create a pitch for our record label and management to get across it. But yeah, mostly it just comes down to us and our weird brains. We always make sure the shoots are fun though, it’s important to the outcome.

Lyrically, are there consistent themes you find yourselves returning to? It feels as though there are specific melodies you’re drawn to, ones that really complement and solidify your sound…

Not consciously, no. But I’m sure they’re in there. I might even have a hard time picking them out, where as to you they might be clearer. I think that’s the really magical thing about expression. It’s just inherently unique for everyone. And its infinite.

With restrictions still in place, are you having to come up with new and different ways to celebrate the release?

Yeah for sure. We did some fun stuff on socials to get things feeling a bit more real and tangible. FaceTime is getting a workout too. But I think once we can, we will celebrate in real time. Maybe have a listening party with our team and go sit somewhere together.