GGD’s studio tracks seem deliberately structured, yet freeform in approach. Do your songs usually come from improvisational jams?
Almost always they do. That’s how we started. We didn’t write any structured pieces. Now we compose structured pieces but it all stems from improvisation. We don’t go into the studio with parts and ideas. We just play for hours, listen back, find a spot we like, and continue building upon that.
Were you encouraged in any way by obtuse ‘80s experimentalists such as Psychic TV, Throbbing Gristle, or Einsterzende Neubauten?
Yeah, for sure. At one point in my life, that was exciting, but I don’t get to listen to that stuff anymore. However, their approach affected my direction.
Were Rawwar and God’s Money semi-conceptually designed?
It’s all about exploration. We get bored easily and won’t be happy doing something over and over. We listen to so much different music we’re interested in and get influenced by that. We hate stagnation. The shows we’ve been playing lately don’t feature songs from the new record. We’ve already written new stuff and got bored with the new album.
How has Gang Gang Dance grown or evolved since its inception?
I’m not sure how it happened. There’s no line to be drawn. No matter how much time I take looking back at each record, I can’t figure out how or why. (laughter) It’s more on instinct than any conscious methodology.
‘Bebay’ and ‘First Communion’ both utilize tribal African beats. Are these newer influences showing up firsthand?
Those are things we’ve listened to for a long time but we’re very gradual in compositional approach. We don’t rush anything. We basically start out making noise music—banging on things trying to emote something. When that felt redundant, we considered structure more. But God’s Money was the first time we did that. Again, it wasn’t conscious. It was done out of frustration and boredom. Improvising became limiting in a way so we started having repetitive parts. From there, it’s been a hodgepodge of all these elements. It’s about being ‘in the moment’ and capturing it on tape. I think there’s a theme for Saint Dymphna, but I don’t know what it is. It’s more on a spiritual level than anything we can describe as progressive.
Where’d you find rapper, Tinchy Stryder, whose flow saddles ‘Princes’?
When I first heard grime music, a friend from London gave me a cassette of pirated recordings. It was hours long. These MCs did their thing over tracks. It’s more mainstream now but at the time there was a very good underground movement. When I first heard the tapes, I was completely blown away by the eastern melodies, rawness of the beats, and off-ness of timing. One of the first MCs I heard was Tingy. I was an instant fan. He was only 15 at the time. He blew my mind. It was alien music to me. We toured London, a kid found out we were a fan, and tracked him down. He freestyled over some beats and then we refined it into a more finished song.
Have you ever contemplated doing cinematic scores?
Yeah. We’d love to. That would be perfect. So much of what we do is based on feeling. It would be very appropriate. Tap into the film’s emotion and put it into shape.
This and John Fortunato’s many articles on music can be found at beermelodies.com.