As producers, DJs and live performers, brothers Tom and Ian Griffiths – aka Icarus – are responsible for a series of perfectly-crafted, genre-crossing electronic releases, including Don’t Cry Wolf, Love Has Come Around, October and – the subject of this issue’s Producer Masterclass – the sublime No Sleep.
Based in Bristol, the pair recently signed to FFRR and will be releasing their debut EP later this year. “We just really felt, throughout this year, that we needed to bang out a lot more music,” says Tom, “because the last few years we’ve done singles and it’s worked, but we want to show people more of a body of work. It’s not about being scared of whether people like a track or not, but if you put one thing out, it either works or it doesn’t. We’ve always been lucky in that everything’s worked to a degree, but at the moment we feel it’s much nicer to put out a selection. It just shows more of what we’re about, rather than going, ‘There’s one piece – see what you think’. So that’s what we’re doing this year. By the end of the year, hopefully we’ll have put out 11 or 12 pieces of music.”
“We always wanted to do an album,” Ian concurs, “but the landscape of the industry and the way people consume music changed so much that by the time we’d got to the point where it was even worth thinking about, everything had changed and it didn’t make any sense. So these EPs are our albums, in a way.”
: You’re referring to the streaming revolution, presumably? Ian: “Yeah. We don’t want to do an album as much as we used to, but we still want to put out more than a single at a time. We’re very cautious about what we put out – we always want to love everything we release – and if we do an album, there’s so much noise these days that most of it would get lost. You’d get one, maybe two tracks that would be pushed and focused on, and the rest of it is gone in a week because people have moved on and you’re not on the front page of Spotify or whatever. So it’s the best of both worlds: we get to put out a lot of music, but hopefully keep people’s interest.”
: Tell us about the track you’re going to be showing us today. Tom: “NoSleep has always been one of our favourites. We put it out last November, and playing it live has really brought the track to life for us – it’s my favourite one to play live.
“The project now, in its final state, is really a stripped-down version of what it would have been when we were writing it. This project in particular took us the best part of a year to get from start to finish. The idea had been left in a state, and we came back to it because we knew we wanted to finish it and release it, so we started to rework it.
“We weren’t actually in a studio at the time, so the record was finished in different places. We were in Ian’s spare bedroom for six months trying to finish it. We had a small setup in there, so we were just experimenting. We try and do a bit of mixing as we go along. Obviously, in rooms that you’re not really familiar with, that can be quite difficult – but we managed to do a bit in there.
“The actual writing of the track was quite a strange process, because when it’s spread out over so many months, you kind of forget how things came about.
“The way we will have done it is to loop a section – the two chords are the basis – and then start to pick our favourite bits, or the parts that we feel are most effective, and work from those.” Ian: “We’ll also find that not necessarily everything that we’ve come up with will work, so that might sometimes form the basis of a new idea. We’ll quite often mark down chord progressions, sounds or patterns that we’ve written, and make sure we keep them for the future, because they might inspire something new.”
“Playing No Sleep live has really brought the track to life for us”