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

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For the last five years, Twist Helix have been diligently crafting their unique brand of politicised synth pop with a truly commendable work rate and playing shows across Europe in support of their ferociously DIY releases. Following on from 2018’s Ouseburn, an album concerned with gentrification and the value of art, comes new release Machinery – another heavily polemic record fixating on the mechanics of the music industry.

On being asked why such a meta-textual approach was taken with both records, the band collectively explain: “In a world as connected as ours, it’s almost impossible to exist as if within a vacuum, so it seems natural to us to write in this way. Our single Frida Kahlo probably sums this idea up best: it’s all about reacting to culture until it becomes indistinguishable from your own identity; the irony being the song ends up not really being about Frida’s self-portraits at all but about kitsch fashion.”

Although the band insist they’re romantics at heart, they admit to being cynical about the music industry. “The machinery behind it makes modern music artificial: everything’s about the product, the distribution, the consumption. We make pop music that channels various influences and has a sort of organic self-awareness. On Machinery we wanted to explore that if you strip away the nuts and bolts of the industry, you might be left with something that’s (for better or for worse) a bit more recognisably human.”

From personal experience, persistence and perseverance is rewarded, and music is about as personally fulfilling a thing as you can do. Believe in yourself, don’t let anyone put you down

A handful of songs on the record speak to the ever present chauvinism in the music industry, which the band are glad to see being addressed by some festivals and promoters. It’s absolutely true that the lack of gender representation in music and particularly rock and indie is a source of shame. It’s as much a symptom of a broader culture that doesn’t value women as it is a sign of ingrained chauvinism in the business.” Their track Ghost attempts to articulate the band’s frustrations. “Particularly how women are overlooked by festival bookers, or not held in the same critical regard as their male counterparts. Ghostly invisibility is certainly a fitting metaphor for the experience. In terms of remedy, well, promoters can and should #BookMoreWomen or sign up to the Keychange initiative. But I don’t think we should wait around for change to be top down, there’s so many amazing women in music right now, challenging expectations and doing things on their own terms, we say power to them! From personal experience, persistence and perseverance is rewarded, and music is about as personally fulfilling a thing as you can do. Believe in yourself, don’t let anyone put you down.”

Indeed, this sort of valuable polemic is all over Machinery. “I think it took us a long time to really find out what our voice was and then be confident in using it, with that in mind the opening track Louder really sets the tone for the album, with the closer Goodnight Little England being an assertive and confident use of that voice. In terms of message, we’d love for the album to make people think about our culture a little bit more, where it comes from and what it says about us. But failing that, just getting lost in the music for a little while would do. After all, feeling what others do is the first step to understanding them.”

Twist Helix release Machinery on 20th November



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