Gorgon City talk new album ‘Kingdom’ and the evolution of their live show [Interview]
In February of 2013, a new duo by the name of Gorgon City broke onto the scene by way of a crafty, 4-track Real EP. Melding pop-savvy songwriting with thunderous club production, the pair quickly found themselves at the forefront of a burgeoning UK house scene.
Though they appeared seemingly out of nowhere, ready to dominate the crossover dance space, Kye Gibbon and Matt Robson-Scott’s ascension was primed by the previous successes of their respective solo projects as Foamo and RackNRuin. Having both forged considerable paths in the UK underground, their union as Gorgon City presented an opportunity to apply their rugged studio prowess to the more mainstream remits of club music. Fortunately for the pair, it’s proven a winning formula, and Gorgon City have grown to be an indomitable force in the dance world.
The fall of 2014 brought the arrival of the duo’s debut album Sirens. One need look no further than the laundry list of star-studded collaborations on the record to see just how far the pair have come since launching their collaborative project. With Jennifer Hudson, Katy B, and Maverick Sabre providing toplines over sturdy deep house and garage, the album was an infectious success, debuting at number 10 on the UK Albums Chart.
“The concept behind that album was taking our club production techniques that we’ve learned over the years and combining that with songwriting. Now we’ve done that, it’s kind of like, where can we take it next? How can we bring back some of our other influences?”
The answer to their question was Kingdom, their sophomore album which the pair have been steadily revealing single by single. Every few weeks, the pair have been unveiling a new album cut. “We just wanted to try something different — a new way of releasing new music,” Kye of Gorgon City says. “To be able to have music constantly coming out is kind of cool. It keeps it fresh for us.”
Thus far, the tracks have been a bit of a departure from Sirens. “Blue Parrot,” for instance, is a veritable tech house anthem, and an ode to the storied BPM venue in Mexico. “Impaired Vision,” on the other hand, offers a deep, downtempo-meets-grime cut, and sounds like nothing we’ve heard from the pair yet.
“It’s important for us to show off the stuff we DJ, the stuff we play when we’re in Ibiza, or in our Rinse show,” Kye says. “But then also the more downtempo stuff, influenced from stuff we grew up on: ‘90s underground UK music, even stuff like Massive Attack, Portishead. We’re not just about UK house music.”
To help sustain the momentum of the album rollout, Gorgon City have linked up with Black Butter label mates Rudimental for a co-headlining North American tour.
“We’ve actually known Rudimental for a long time,” Kye says. “When we first started, we all kind of went through the same process together. Our live shows are kind of similar, in the way that it’s electronic music, but it’s very much like a proper live band.”
While Gorgon City are more than proficient behind a pair of CDJs, their live show has taken their abilities to the next level. “There’s quite a lot going on up there,” Kye says, referring to their on-stage setup. “We kind of developed it over the last two years. It got more and more complex as it’s gone on.”
Complex is an understatement. With four laptops running Ableton, two Novation Launchpads, two Novation ZeRos, one Native Instruments Machine, and 9 pads for playing basslines and percussion, it’s a busy setup to say the least. What’s more, they also tour with a diverse array of analog gear. From an Access Virus, to a Roland Juno synth, Dave Smith Prophet and Mopho and a TB3 for sequencing acid jams, Matt and Kye have essentially implemented their most coveted studio gear into their performances.
What this affords them is the effortlessly ability to improvise and, in a sense, ‘produce,’ on the spot. The creative freedom is perhaps most evident during their signature jam sessions. “There is a track in the set that we’ve actually never produced as a record,” Kye says. “Every time we’ll play songs like that, they’ll be different, as we haven’t actually got studio recordings to go by. It’s always improvised and jamming on the spot.”
This on-the-spot flexibility further lends itself to the pair’s unreleased tracks. “Sometimes we play tracks that we haven’t finished yet, so we’ll play live versions,” Kye says. “One of us will improvise and we’ll feed off the crowd’s reaction.” This not only spawns a brand new arrangement for their works-in-progress, but also provides some instantaneous, realtime feedback.
“It’s cool to have that cycle of testing out the track, off the cuff, and then taking that back to the studio and thinking, ‘right, how can we put that in the track?'”
Gorgon City’s North American tour with Rudimental commences on Wednesday, May 18, in Central Park, New York. Tickets for the tour can be found here.