Interview: Close Counters on positive rhythms, improvised ideas, & killer grooves
Following the release of their new FLUX EP, we spoke to the Melbourne-based duo Close Counters...
The new FLUX EP is full of uplifting boppers, what ideas and themes were you exploring to produce such a joyful sound?
This EP was a deeper exploration of house and dance music, expanding on some of the themes we’d developed through our previous projects REFRACTIONS and SOULACOASTA. We aimed to communicate positivity through rhythm and songwriting, for those who may need it during the hard times we’ve been presented with recently.
Your musical soundscape is a fusion of house, neo-soul, hip-hop and disco, what draws you to these styles and how do you approach creating music?
We’ve been long time fans of all these genres, being brought up on a healthy dose of jazz, soul and hip-hop in our formative years. Any music that people can bring people together to dance will always have a special place in our hearts.
Our approach to songwriting is constantly changing, sometimes one person will have an idea or demo and bring it to the other, and sometimes we will start with a blank canvas and make something from scratch, especially if there are extra collaborators involved - such as our live band members Matthew Hayes on bass and Lucky Pereira on drums, or the vocalists we featured, Allysha Joy and JAYDEAN.
Having played with a live band in development, you’ve incorporated a lot more live playing in these recordings, how did this transform your writing process? Did this build on your already existing improvisational jazz techniques?
Improv played a huge part in constructing some of the new song ideas. Often with the live show we would perform a song and then come up with a special outro improvised section that is unique to the live show. Through playing the show many times we were constantly coming up with new ideas, and after testing a couple in front of a live audience we found some jams were so good that we ended up developing them in the studio into whole new songs.
Which contemporary artists inspire you and where do you take your influence from generally?
We listen to a huge range of music, in our immediate community in Melbourne we’re very inspired by the bands Mildlife and Hiatus Kaiyote (we were lucky enough to have Paul Bender from Hiatus play on our EP song UP AND OUT). Moving abroad, we’re really big fans of the Broken Beat scene that emerged in West London from the early 2000s, some acts including Kaidi Tatham, Jazzanova and Mark De Clive-Lowe. Some other acts worth mentioning include SAULT, Fouk, Middle Name Dance Band and Izy.
You’ve frequently worked with other artists, including Allysha Joy and JAYDEAN on this release, what appeals to you about collaborative projects?
Collaborating is such an important part of music creating for us, for a number of reasons. Working with vocalists such as Allysha and JAYDEAN helps bring a whole new conceptual layer to our music with the addition of lyrics and a strong melody. Working with the live band members saw the inclusion of a number of killer grooves and basslines. We’re super lucky to get to work with such experienced and talented players!
Can we expect any live shows to look forward to, or further upcoming projects?
If you’re in Australia we are now starting our FLUX EP tour, all details are on our website at closecounters.com. Otherwise, once it’s safe to do so we can’t wait to travel internationally again, and we’re always working on new music!
Finally, what does the word ‘groove’ mean to you?
Anything that makes your brain signal to your body that it’s time to move!
Download or buy the limited 12" vinyl here.