INTERVIEW: The Fishery Commission | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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The Fishery Commission, the duo of Dominic Smith and Andy Brown, have been a quiet part of the North East scene since the mid noughties, yet it’s only now they finally bring their debut album, The Letraset Set, out for all to hear. Rather than any Chinese Democracy-style antics though, The Letraset Set is the work of years of sporadic but careful, dedicated work.

As Brown puts it, the duo originally met when working together at the Discovery Museum. “I saw him at a gig making music on two Nintendo Game Boys dressed in full samurai armour. How could you not want to start a band with someone who thought it was okay to do that?” While the chiptune aesthetic of their early work might have given way to a more traditional electronic studio setup (Smith wryly observes “I was a bit too hardcore at the time and I would insist on doing it all live, improvised. That meant remembering about three hundred loops by their Hexadecimal numbers”), they’ve kept hold of both the mischief and the passion that originally brought the band together.

While the duo entered an extended live hiatus from 2007 onwards, they retained a resolve to finish what they had started – most of the time. “We were still working on stuff just really slowly. Basically, every time we went to the pub we would get enthusiastic and promise to finish off the album then go home and watch TV instead. Apathy really is a killer,” Brown muses.

every time we went to the pub we would get enthusiastic and promise to finish off the album then go home and watch TV instead. Apathy really is a killer

Brown identifies 2013 as the point when The Letraset Set really started to take shape. Having expanded from the original Game Boy set up, Smith gave a brief overview of what went into the album. “I tend to make/write my own patches in MAX and then run them through Ableton, but there’s also recordings from little sound toys I’ve made, sessions on Emergency Librarian’s modular synth wall of death and a duck in a pond in Lancaster. It’s all fair game.”

The final album is an overview of everything the duo are capable of: lo-fi sound samples weaved into luscious synth pop symphonies, world-weary melancholy rendered with real warmth and wit. Lead single Fly Steady is as fine a calling card as any, sounding like the missing link between My Bloody Valentine and M83. Brown explains that “picking tracks to promote is hard, there are so many considerations which might mean you are limited in choice. We wanted something that was representative of the album as a whole.” Smith concurs, saying, “I think the other thing is that it’s the first track we have shared, we haven’t shown all of our cards yet. The album starts quite dark, gets angry, then cheers up and has a bit of a dance. Fly Steady is like the midpoint in that Venn diagram.”

After the protracted birth of The Letraset Set, both Smith and Brown are keen to keep up their new-found momentum. “We have the launch show at the Star and Shadow Cinema, then a UK tour planned for the middle of the year,” Brown says, while Smith hints, “I’m already three tunes into the next album. I have been listening to a strange mix of God Colony stuff, Laurie Spiegel and Larry Heard. So who knows how it will turn out.”

The Letraset Set is released on 30th January. The Fishery Commission play the Star & Shadow Cinema, Newcastle on Saturday 16th March.


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