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TWO PEOPLE Snakadaktal no more

Two People is the new project from Joey Clough and Phoebe Lou (formerly of Snakadaktal), who released their debut album First Body in January. KAREN LOWE caught up with the pair to chat about the recording process, signing with Terrible Records in the US, and playing their first live show at Splendour In The Grass.

You guys have released your debut album, First Body. How did the recording process go and are you happy with how it’s turned out?

JC: Yeah we are really happy with how it turned out. The recording process was kind of long and we did it all ourselves – writing, recording and the production of it – we did it all ourselves in our own studio. It was experimental and long and we’ve never done that before with our previous band. We’d always worked with a producer in a studio so it was a very different process for us. We went into it though knowing that this is what we wanted to do. We are glad we did and I think the record sounds a certain way because of it. We are really happy with it.

You have also signed to Terrible Records in the US. How did that come about?

PL: We played Bigsound last year for the first time and we had a few shows. It’s hard to know what to expect and we didn’t really know many people there. The audience tends to be industry so we just thought we’d get up and play the best shows that we could. I think it was the first show we played, (we) got on stage and started playing and saw a really friendly face in the crowd. I remember thinking ‘very smiley’, and it gave me confidence at that time which was a weird and memorable moment. We were introduced to Max (Wortman) – A&R at Terrible Records – through our managers who knew him already. He loved the show and we got a chance to hang out with him over the next few days – he came to all our shows and he is a really, really lovely person and he understands what we do which is quite rare.

Your first live show as Two People was at Splendour In The Grass last year. How did it go? And how did it feel being back on stage?

JC: It went well. It was a little bit daunting having that as the first show and it being a big stage and a big occasion so there were definitely a few nerves about doing it for the first time there but it went really well and we spent a lot of time working on our live show because we do make electronic music which is always a tricky thing interpreting that live, so we did spend quite a few months in the studio working that out. Although we were nervous to play at that festival on that stage, we were into what we were doing – it felt like it was going to work and it went fantastic. We were really happy with it. Since then, it’s just developed and I guess now, it was kinda cool to just jump in with such a big event. That was good for us.

PL: Yeah and it did feel surprisingly natural. That night we played, I think part of the nerves was just being unsure of what it would feel like to be on the stage again with a different musical project five years later. There were all sorts of crazy things about that but as soon as we got on it felt really fun.

Do you ever have any specific intentions on how you want to impact people? For example, do you ever think, “I’d love for a fan to feel this way” after hearing a song or do you prefer to leave your music open for interpretation?

PL: I think it has to be very open to interpretation because I’ve written some really personal things and everyone’s going to feel something a little different but we do put a lot of thought into the feeling of our tracks and there is a lot of intention behind… at least how things feel for us and how we capture that feeling and we definitely love an element of mystery. I think that’s really cool to have in our songwriting but the most important thing is getting a feeling across. It’s a little bit abstract what we are trying to get across. It’s not necessarily ‘feel sad, feel jolly’. I definitely feel that there’s a little element of mystery there as well.

Since you guys first started in high school with Snakadaktal, what do you feel have been some of the biggest changes in the industry? And what have been some of the more positive changes and on the flip side, the negative?

JC: I haven’t thought about that before. I guess for us, not being in the industry for a little while because we’ve been locked away working on our own music, I guess the sounds, trends and genres have definitely changed or moved away from when Snakadaktal was happening. That’s one thing that I’ve definitely noticed and I guess production and technology has influenced that. There seems to be less instruments and seems to be more production on the laptop. I’ve noticed that with live shows as well.

PL: Yeah I think that’s a big difference – especially the way it gets out there with the internet being a big deal, like streaming and on a different side of the bridge, another thing I’ve noticed is a big shift in… a bit of awareness on (from an industry perspective) trying to pull an equal approach to gender; particularly festivals and there’s a real consciousness about getting an equal line up there and it’s a really wonderful thing. I think that’s only really just begun.

With Two People, what were some of the valuable lessons that you guys learned from being in Snakadaktal that you wish that you knew back then? And what were some of the mistakes that you may have made that have only helped you both now?

PL: So many (laughs)

JC: I don’t know so much about mistakes or certain things like “why did we do that?” or “that was wrong” or something like that but I guess for me, something I learned from Snaka was the process and how to work and trying to keep or stay confident in your own ideas. If you have an idea, believe in what you are doing.

PL: I think that’s a big thing. We have a lot of experience internally and externally with the industry so it can be fun business trying to back yourself which is a really hard thing to do, especially when there’s lot of voices and lots of influences around. I think it was a really interesting time for us to go through that experience given our age. We were just forming as people so it was a pretty wild journey to embark on. We learned a lot from it. Because it is such a different project now, we are very clear in our ideas on what we want to do here, it’s almost a different landscape for us, especially with the way we work now compared to back then. We are across every aspect of this project from production to marketing but there’s still so much to learn.

If you could collaborate with anyone in the world, who would you love to work with and why?

PL: The ones that we look up to the most, we’d be too scared to work with. It’s interesting even with the production of our album, we had it mixed by Rodaidh McDonald (The xx), who is one of our total favourite idols in the whole international music scene and he mixed our record which is a form of collaboration and someone we really look up to. Even then, we were doing it by email but that was really cool.

As a fan, it’s often quite hard to go up to your idols and say hello for fear of being turned away or fear of seizing up and sounding like an idiot. As a musician, how do you go at meeting your idols? Have you ever gone to speak to someone and just seized up?

JC: I actually had this happen. A few years ago I was at Meredith Music Festival and I was young but Four Tet – one of my full inspirations (and someone I would love to collaborate with) and a big influence on what I am trying to do – he was playing, and Grimes was as well. Grimes had just played a set and finished and back stage, they were chatting and at that stage, I had no idea who Four Tet was. I walked over and said to Grimes “well done, great set, I really enjoyed it,” and interrupted their conversation to say that and didn’t say anything to Four Tet. I just had no idea who this dude was standing there, said that and just walked off and then found out later who it was. I’ve regretted it ever since.

What bands do you currently have on rotation in your music players? And are there any bands that you just didn’t get until you saw them live?

Both: Currently listening to Khruangbin.

PL: Who we’ve not got til we saw live?

JC: This is a weird one but CHVRCHES I never really got or understood. I didn’t really like it that much from just the recordings but last year when we were at Splendour, we saw them live and it worked way better for me live because the energy. She was just running around and saying really funny things and it had a really good feeling so I actually enjoyed the music much more.

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