Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Gigwise Interview: Pivot

Here is an interview with the Australian band Pivot that I did for Gigwise.

Pivot Interview

Pivot are rare proposition: a heavily electronica influenced outfit who actually get up on stage and play real instruments, melding IDM and live bass, drums and vocals. While there is currently a surfeit of bands plying this niche Pivot’s uniqueness lies in their ability to do all of the above well. They also happen to be from Australia. And signed to Warp. Who happen know a thing or two about good electronic music.

Brothers Richard and Laurence Pike met third member Dave Miller through the tight knit Australian DIY underground scene and started playing together in 2006. Their first album (‘Makme Me Love You’, Sensory Projects, 2005) exhibited elements that their Wrap debut ‘O Soundtrack My Heart’ has not just built upon but rather erected ginormous skyscrapers of progress. Without asking anyone for planning permission.

While comparisons to bands like Hot Chip who exist in a similar demi-monde between electronic and indie convention are salient only in terms of accident rather sonic similarity a decision to move to the UK earlier this year has helped the band become one of the most exciting live acts you are likely to see this summer.

We caught up with Laurence to talk about the bands past and where they are looking to next.

How did Pivot originally come into being? As a band from Australia you kind of arrived in a lot of people in this countries consciousnesses fully formed.
Laurence: Rich and I had this mutual friend of ours who asked us to do a gig together basically. It was at this festival at the Sydney Opera House and we just kind of hit it off. In the early days we kind of had different members but it was done under the banner of ‘Pivot’ with Rich and I as the core. We knew Dave from round and about and we wanted him as part of our team. Once we had asked him to join the band in the sense that people consider it now was formed. This was all around 2000 I guess.

What were your influences at that early stage?
Well, we all kind of come from slightly different angles, which I think makes it a little more interesting. Dave comes from this minimal techno background so he was always turning us on to that kind of stuff where as Rich and I come from having played instruments our whole life and listened to rock music. Rich and I were also already familiar with a lot of the soundtrack stuff from the 70s and I think Dave had to check lots of that stuff out and catch up. Just being in London the last few years with the pop music that we hadn’t really been exposed to in Australia was interesting as well.

How does London compare to Sydney?
They are so different. There is so much going on in London. That’s why we moved. It was a no brainer really. Sydney’s a funny place, it’s good in parts but quite scattered. It can be a bit difficult to progress artistically and the big obstacle is friends. Just a lack of people to work with. There’s also really fucked up licensing laws in Sydney. It stops the sort of people with ideas that unfortunately don’t have the mega bucks that you actually need to get the license but people really try and the last few years there’s been a lot more DIY. Even then though it’s such a ridiculously regulated process. There’s so much red tape and bullshit that parties get cut down before they can even get started. We just thought: rather than release an album nobody’s heard of, come here a few months in advance and work really hard, and try and establish some sort of profile so once the record’s out we aren’t starting at square one. There is a lot of music here and as with any scene you need to earn respect and pay your dues which is hopefully what we have been doing.

There is a marked evolution in your sound between the first record and ‘O Soundtrack My Heart’. What contributed to this change?
The first record was a bigger band. It lacked it’s own sound and was probably too ambient at times. It also had some jazzier tunes to it, which I didn’t really feel and they probably came from the old keyboard player. He just kind of disappeared. We kind of trimmed the fat I guess and got into using the samplers. That’s been our main focus for gigs. We do a lot of live sampling and stuff like that, which can change the course and texture of the songs when their live which is really important I think. Because we don’t want people to come to the gigs and think they’ll get the CD or the same shit every time. We expect from ourselves what we would expect from a gig if we were attending.

Having been playing live so intensively has the live element began to influence the production.
Undoubtedly. It already is. We’ve been working on new stuff and firstly, we’ve been doing it together in the same room which is different from how we made the last album because Dave was in London a lot of times and it was a lot of sending each other files and stuff and now it’s only the three of us. The process is more interactive with the organic element of using technology, and that’s exciting because you don’t know where it’s going to go.

Can you already discern a shift in sound for the future?
Because we don’t really know where it’s going it is kind of exciting. It’s like with the live sampling: when you’ve got someone on stage that’s solely dedicated to making sounds live there’s a lot you can do with that. We’re just trying to chill out and be good, you know. The last couple of gigs Dave’s been getting into sampling things and doing lots of strange future beat things with it on his mini table. I think probably towards the end of the year we probably try and play the new material rather than just play the album.

How did the Warp connection come about?
It just sort of happened quite naturally. It’s weird because they’re a big influence on us. We’ve listened to their tunes for years, since high school. It’s strange, if you would have said to me ten years ago you’d put a record out with Warp I would have told you to fuck off, but when it happened it was like, oh it makes sense, because their the label who want to put out the kind of music we care about. We basically made the record we wanted to and thought we’re really happy with this and they were happy to put it out. It was all a happy coincidence!

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