NGV Friday Nights: Interview with Tangents

We interviewed Tangents, who will be headlining NGV Friday Nights at NGV International on Friday 9 December 2016.

You’ve been described as a genre-hopping ensemble, how would you describe your current records sound?

It’s constructed (by our laptop lad Ollie) as electronic music – finely-edited beats and layered sounds. However, it all derives from improvised performances by the members, so there’s a certain live, organic feel to it. (Peter)

Each of you had previously played in other ensembles or bands, what made you decide to collaborate in Tangents?

The great thing about Tangents is that we’re all fans of each other’s work 🙂 The band was formed for a one-off performance in Sydney when Ollie (originally from the UK and based at the time in Melbourne) was visiting Sydney. We brought Shoeb & Evan up from Canberra, added Peter & Adrian to the mix, and came up with something that felt unique & exciting – so much so that we became a real band! (Peter)

Where did your creative inspiration come from for your latest record?

There was a strong focus on exploring different ways of interacting between digital editing and live performing. The album was very much a work of ‘remix’ from various scraps of live takes, followed by further rounds of overdubs. The kind of dialogue that comes from this is long-form. Lots of listening to takes and discussion over email or dinner at Peter’s place. We were also inspired by exploring how our different musical backgrounds can be reconfigured to present different sides of the band. Stateless is very much a certain angle on the band. The previous album, “I”, is much more raw and live. For our next album we feel even more in control of this process. We’ve recorded all of the source material for the new album as free improvised sessions, but we’ve done it to a click track and with full acoustic separation, so that we can completely go nuts on it in the studio, without losing the live groove. (Ollie)

If your music was an artwork what would it look like?

It would look like a Piet Mondrian work as reproduced by Marc Chagall. (Peter)

Do you have a favourite artist/artwork?

From the mainstream, I’d probably have to say Jean Tinguely, for me personally, and the art-engineering crossover he embodied. (Ollie)

What’s your favourite gig you have played to date?

We recently did four shows over four months in Sydney as a way to develop and explore our live style. These were at the Glebe Justice Centre which is a superb, small, intimate venue with a good sound and – most important of all – comfy couches. We were in control of everything including bringing in the PA and doing the live sound. The fourth of these gigs was really special, having really become familiar with the space and sound, and all feeling like we knew exactly what the parameters of the band are. This band has no trouble playing long sets, as each person drifts in and out of the action more or less. Our sound is complex but we’re super comfortable with the live mix with acoustic and electronic instruments on different stages these days. (Ollie)

What inspires/influences your music the most?

Each of us would have different answers to this. I’m a non-stop music listener & collector and draw on everything, from black metal & noise to folktronica, from klezmer to dubstep, drum’n’bass to 20th century classical. We all have diverse & broad musical interests, all of which flow into Tangents’ music. We’re also all politically engaged, which may or may not surface in our music. (Peter)

What song do you wish you wrote?

‘Off Minor’ by Thelonius Monk – that time and place of abstracting a common language with enough nuance to redefine it. (Adrian)
Funny, I was going to say Monk too. Beauty in simplicity. (Ollie)

What part of making music excites you the most?

(i) that feeling when some bit of musical magic comes along and I have no idea what it is any how/why it works; I can only congratulate myself that I managed to capture it in my jar, (ii) the opposite, where I set out to do something and it works as planned. (Ollie)

What is your favourite part of being involved in Friday Nights at NGV?

That our Melbourne debut & album launch is in such beautiful surrounds in the company of great art. (Peter)
I’m loving the work of Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith at the moment. Honoured to be in the same series as her. Sad I won’t get to see the Melbourne or Sydney shows. (Ollie)

What can someone expect from your live show?

The unexpected. We play spontaneous music – everything is improvised. But it’s not atonal or unstructured. We will be producing sounds – beats, melodies, riffs – which are of a piece with the Tangents sound. (Peter)

Tell us about the last song you created?

Given every performance is a new creation… we last played in a pub in Sydney on a tiny stage, and it was ramshackle & beautiful, as possibly influenced by how loud the stage and the previous bands were. Next up we have rehearsals where will explore new combinations and structures in readiness for our December shows. (Adrian)

What are you working on now?

Album #3. We have 3+ hours of live-in-studio recordings which are being pulled apart and put back together. (Peter)

Viktor&Rolf once said “At the start of our career, the art world showed a lot more interest in our work than the fashion world did…. in museums we were simply making what we imagined in our minds and the response came from the art world”. What is the most surprising response you’ve had to your work?

For me the most surprising moment was when Temporary Residence boss Jeremy replied to us about Stateless, and how ‘fresh’ it was to him. We don’t contrive our music, it is very honest and represents us not only as a collective, but also individually. So we were very pleasantly surprised to have a very experienced label manager who is probably getting a bag of demos a week respond like that. (Adrian)