Remember the premiere of Galaxians cool music video for 'How Do U Feel'?, well we've managed to grab Matt for an interview where all you need to know about this up and coming disco trio will be revealed...
For new listeners, how would you describe your sound?
In simple terms it's live dance music. We write songs that combine live playing and instrumentation and programmed or sequenced parts we write on a laptop. There's voice, synthesizers, a laptop, drum machine sounds and acoustic drums.
We're influenced primarily by what we've occasionally and tentatively called 'pre-digital' dance music, meaning the post-disco / pre-house period between the late 1970s and mid-1980s. It's a much-forgotten yet exciting and experimental period which featured sub-genres like boogie, garage, and proto-house, which came out of disco having to go back underground after its peak in the mainstream. There's a wealth of inspiration in there for us anyway.
Could you give us an idea of the journey it took to arrive at this refined group, from yourselves individually, then the duo, to the trio that now makes Galaxians?
That's a long story and one which I'll try to condense for the sake of anyone reading this, hah. I've lived in Leeds for around 20 years and have played in bands ever since moving here in 1998. Jed and I met in 2011 just after a band I was in (Cissy) broke up and we decided to get together and jam. We didn't know each other but we really enjoyed playing together and found that we had a shared passion for a particular sound.
Em and I have been friends and neighbours on the same street for over ten years. Jed and I always talked about working with a singer and we never envisaged the band as always being a duo forever. We approached Em initially about a collaboration but we worked really well together so it made perfect sense for Em to be a permanent member of the band. So we've officially been a trio since the beginning of 2016 or thereabouts.
What attracted you about Emma's vocals that lead to the decision to bring her into the collective?
Well musically it was a no-brainer. Em's style is a perfect fit. She has a style people often compare to Gwen Guthrie and/or Jocelyn Brown, two of our favourite singers. Em has an ear and an understanding of where our music comes from. She understands the feeling and in many respects comes from the same place as Jed and I. What I mean by that is that she is self- taught and has forged her own path, rather than having studied music at an institution or whatever. There are shared roots in the band which means that it works as a relationship.
Em's voice is a force of nature but she also adds other positive things to the band too. Musically we're all curious and inquisitive, and keen to experiment and suggest things to each other. That's important in a band, I think. Em is also forward-thinking and positive when it comes to the evolution of the band. We share the same excitement about discovery.
Where did the name 'Galaxians' come from?
It's not that interesting! It was just on a list of potential band names and was a name we both liked at the time. There definitely isn't a meaning or suggested theme behind it.
How has the Leeds music scene inspired your music?
We get asked this one a lot. I think a lot of people who have lived in Leeds for at least a couple of years and have been to gigs, parties, and club nights here agree that there is a sense of community here, partly born out of Leeds being or feeling like a relatively small city. Like any other city it has its problems but musically it's very fertile and people here are pro-active. There's a high quality of bands here and a real variety of sounds across the city. There's always things to improve on and things aren't as inclusive across the board as they should be, in my opinion. But, in the 20 years I've lived here it's always been a creatively inspirational landscape, especially for music.
What are your favourite venues and spaces in Leeds?
Wharf Chambers, Brudenell Social Club, Hope House, to name a few. We often feel lucky that we also sometimes get invited to play in spaces that aren't traditionally music venues. Those experiences can often be the most rewarding because the traditional heirarchy of more corporate or standard rock shows doesn't apply. And sometimes there's a greater diversity in the crowd and the experience feels more shared. There are venues in Leeds which really contribute to a sense of community here, so we tend to gravitate towards those.
It seems like a lot of fun performing in your genre, what has been your favourite gig, and where would you love to perform, in Leeds or anywhere else?
It really is fun. For us the best dance music is joyful and soulful and so we try and aspire to that. Luckily for us there's been a lot of really memorable gigs so it's pretty much impossible to pick one. We're not very demanding when it comes to the criteria for a gig being good. If people are dancing and the sound is good we're happy. If there's 30 people and everyone is really into it that's a fun experience for us. Obviously we feel fulfilled if we play really well, and less so if there's technical difficulties or distractions or whatever. We do love to play club nights because people come to dance and so they start dancing as soon as you start playing, rather than standing there with their arms folded or whatever. It's just good when a room feels lively, y'know?
In terms of places we'd like to play that could mean more touring abroad, particularly in New York where the label we have worked with a lot (Dither Down) is based. Personally, I love being on tour so in an ideal world I'd like to be able to do that for about seven months a year. In general terms we like to play anywhere where the vibe is good, where there's a good sound system and the people and promoters are nice.
What edge do you think you’re bringing to the disco scene?
That's really hard for us to say. It's probably up to other people to comment on. Firstly, we're not aware of a disco scene, in the sense of people writing and performing disco live in a band format. I think it's sometimes difficult because modern dance music culture is often centred around deejays. Sometimes we get offered gigs by people who, when they find out we're a live band, change their mind, and sometimes it's probably hard for promoters to fit us into a bill simply because there aren't any other bands as far as we know that play the kind of music we play live. The disco scene in Leeds is very much about club nights and deejays but that's a very tight-knit community which we're outside of in many respects. Personally I'd love to see more events here where deejays play alongside live acts as I think different communities should embrace each other more. Obviously there are lots of UK artists playing electronic music but there isn't a scene or a community of live disco / boogie / R&B bands. Not as far as we know anyway. We're something of an anomally, maybe.
What inspired you to begin this musical project?
Well it happened by chance really. Opportunities sometimes just appear and present themselves to you. I think when Jed and I met I was looking for a new project that was unlike anything I'd done previously. At that time I was pretty sick of playing in guitar bands and wanted a new way to approach my own instrument (drums) too. I'd come out of the other side of the jazzy post-rock vibe and wanted to play something more danceable and joyful-sounding, and something that was going to push my drumming in a different direction. I wanted to learn a bit more about writing pop music and Galaxians facilitated that, too.
Are there other artists that inspired and shaped Galaxians?
Definitely. One of the interesting things about dance music is that arguably it's more about being influenced by song-writers, producers, and deejays than it is about the influence of bands and artists. Disco was heavily populated by studio projects which meant that a lot of records that came out weren't by actual bands who went out on the road and played that music live. There were some of course, but there are a lot of hugely influential records that were created in a studio and commited to vinyl, but were never actually performed in a live setting. And then there are the deejays, some of whom didn't just play records in clubs but whose work in a studio environment went on to be really influential and sometimes revolutionary in a music sense - Larry Levan, Tom Moulton, Walter Gibbons, John Morales etc.
We’ve already given your music video for 'How Do U Feel?' a feature, do you have any more cool ideas for music videos in the future?
We'd like to work with a group of dancers, one of whom is a pal of Em's. They're voguers and we have talked about doing a video project with them, which is an idea we're excited about.
Where can we catch you playing soon?
Our first gig of the new year is a fundraiser - at the Brudenell Social Club - for MAP Charity (Music and Arts Production). Really excited to be involved in the event and it's something we feel really strongly about.
And finally, where do you see yourselves as a band in one years time?
We just want to carry on making music and hope we get the chance to travel more, to meet new people and make new friends. We're going to start work on our second album in the new year (our first one Let The Rhythm In came out in October on Dither Down) so we'll be working on that for a good part of the year.
Follow Galaxians Facebook page here