Django Django: Away with the Pharaohs
Rather than musical references of now and the recent past, when I listen to Django Django I hear influences from hundreds of years ago – tribal drums, pipes, and an Egyptian style. It's as if you’re taking pages from a historical textbook and pasting them together again – is this the intention? How much is history part of what you do?
Yeah, it's in there – I've got a bit of an obsession with ancient megalithic structures like the pyramids. The influences for the LP came from far and wide. We have a song on there called Hand of Man, it’s about an idea of going back in time to the very beginning of mankind and guiding them through to the present, showing them the way and making sure that we avoid greed and war.
Rhythm and song are as old as humanity so I think it's in us all but it's defiantly changed a great deal in the west through things like monotheism, electricity and technology. But that’s not the case everywhere in the world and much of the music we listen to is the kind of folk music that's probably gone unchanged for some time.
I hear quite epic themes in the album – a love song to a comet, and songs about dinosaurs and evolution. Can you tell me a bit about the theme, if there is one?
Yes, I think we cover some quite esoteric themes in the songs. Hail Bop is a kind of play on words – a nod to the comet and a hail to bop or dance. It's about waiting your whole life for something to come round and before you know it it's taken off again in the same way that a comet will whiz by Earth and disappear back into deep space.
Skies Over Cairo was influenced by Ancient Egypt’s obsession with the stars and even the controversial suggestion that the pyramids somehow have a link to Mars. I loved reading the books Chariots of the Gods and According to the Evidence – whether it's just sci-fi or has any grounds doesn’t matter to me, the ideas are exciting to imagine. Every song on the record has its own theme but when we put them all together we found that it was a bit like a journey, probably because it was quite an escapist album to make.
You studied with each other in Edinburgh but then moved to London. Is there anything behind this move in terms of thinking about the future of your band or was it for other reasons? How has the environment of London affected you as a band?
Well I moved down to go to Chelsea Art School and the others were already down here doing different things. Personally, I just felt like a change of scene. I had no idea that we'd all end up in a band. I was making weird dance music but never thought I'd be producing this kind of music or playing live, it just happened through the joy of getting together and exchanging ideas. I'm not sure it was that important to be in London but it was a good thing to be around Dalston and East London, putting on club nights and DJing, because it felt like an exciting place to be.
You have a very strong visual identity which it seems is mostly your own doing. How important is it that you have control of the image listeners are presented with?
I recently made a video for the song Default, which involved lots of painting, and also did the art for the LP. Tommy [Grace, keyboard] made a poster for the LP and does all our fonts and layouts. So we’re always involved in that side. Tommy probably makes more art outside the band, but we've both tried to keep involved since Edinburgh and The Embassy days.
Finally, can you just tell us about what you are going to be doing in 2012?
It looks like 2012 will be very busy for us. It's great to finally have an LP out after all the setbacks we’ve had, and we'll be going on the road in the UK in February. I'm in France just now where our main label office is, so we'll be over here quite a bit. We really want to get stuck into new music soon but we'll be doing some 12" stuff, remixes and dance edits from the album. Hopefully the festival season will be busy – one of the first we've confirmed is The Away Game, needless to say we can't wait for that!