INTERVIEW: Warm Digits | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Warm Digits play the next NARC. event at Northern Stage on Friday 13th November, where they collaborate with analogue film collective Filmbee. We had a chat with Steve Jefferis to discover what the band are preparing for this special, one-off gig.

Your music encapsulates a wide variety of genres but what specific styles have informed the work on your upcoming third album?

The bedrock is still Krautrock, contemporary electronic music and shoegazing, but I suppose now we’ve found a style, there’s space to be a bit more confident with some of the elements. There are a couple of belting disco numbers on this record which we really enjoy playing, plus some songs give more room to the haunted, radiophonic elements of our sound which you’d also find in the work of a label like Ghost Box.

You’ve said that the new material enhances your pop sensibilities while also exploring more sonic extremes. How do you try to balance the more experimental elements of your work with more popular conventions?

I heard a quote recently from the French writer Jacques Attali that “all music is a dialogue between structure and noise” which more or less sums it up! We’ve always liked the challenge of surfing that experimental line…however extreme some of the sounds or textures, for me it is a helpful constraint to say, we have to have a rhythm or melody which is accessible to some degree and then see what chemistry flows from bringing the two together.

Are you looking to give quite a bit of this new material an airing at Northern Stage?

It’ll be a mix of everything, some of the new ones have been in the set for a while but will be premiering some new ones too.

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Filmbee have already produced a striking handmade video for your track Weapons Destruction. How did you first come to collaborate with the collective? What made you want to work with Filmbee again?

We’ve known them since they were programming artists’ films at the Side Cinema in the early 2000s, as part of the collective that became the Star & Shadow. Their work is very much in a tradition of ‘visual music’ filmmakers (Len Lye, Guy Sherwin, Lis Rhodes, Norman McLaren and so on) which have been a big influence on Warm Digits, and so it made sense to work together. There’s something about the joy, abstraction, colour and sensory overload of Filmbee’s work which fits with the sensibility of the band, as well as their semi-improvised way of working with film loops (as we do with synth loops). We also share an interest in unpredictable live experiences where ‘happy accidents’ can take place, so this should be a really good fit.

How closely have you been working together so far to create the visuals? Can you give us a very small hint as to what to expect from the new collaboration?

We’ve been speaking about ideas, particularly about how to use the unusual shape of Stage 3 at Northern Stage but they are cooking up their own film loops as I type. We are hoping to do an installation-style set up with multiple screens, maybe mirrors…We hope that Filmbee members become part of the performance themselves, with the means of production (!) of the visuals being completely on show, and their labour at the projectors as important as ours with the sound.

You’ve chosen co¥ᄀpt as one of your support acts; what attracted you to Sean’s live coding project?

Sean will be sitting on stage programming the sound and the images live, with the code displayed for all to see. It’s a nice digital counterpoint to Filmbee’s analogue work, with everything generated live but by very different means. It hovers on the line between proper electronica (which we both love) and digital art, again stretching at what you expect from a gig performance, so we’re fascinated to see how this will work live.

Pentecostal Party is also supporting you. Why does Dawn’s solo project stand out to you?

It’s a very contemporary electronic sound, and we like the edge of the uncanny and the haunted which weaves through her work, as well as the live looped element. She also works with a more languid pace which is a nice complement to our songs which are always far too fast.

After this special gig, when might we expect the third album to be released?

As Field Music’s Peter Brewis says, “you don’t finish an album, you abandon it” so we are close now to abandoning it, hopefully for a release spring or early summer next year!

Warm Digits + Filmbee, co¥ᄀpt and Pentecostal Party play Northern Stage, Newcastle on Friday 13th November. The first 100 advance tickets sold will receive a limited edition three track CD-R featuring brand new music from the band’s forthcoming album. Tickets are priced £8 in advance, click here to buy.

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