Brain Dancing on Glasgow clubbing and their new EP

We catch up with Glasgow duo Rob Etherson and Ross Anderson, aka Brain Dancing, to chat about their debut EP

Feature by Claire Francis | 05 Sep 2018
  • Brain Dancing

Brain Dancing is a creative collaboration that will no doubt be familiar to many involved in Glasgow's thriving club scene. A monthly party, studio project and 'curated visual aesthetic', Brain Dancing is the brainchild of Rob Etherson (mixing engineer and one half of the techno outfit Mia Dora) and Ross Anderson (co-founder of the Sub Club residency I AM and resident DJ under the moniker Beta; he's also a graphic artist, and creative programming director of The Berkeley Suite). With two years of successful Brain Dancing parties under their belt, the duo are now set to release their debut EP Far from Finished on Boysnoize Records sub label BNR TRAX.

The ethos of Brain Dancing, the pair explain, is and was "a manifestation of a need to apply some spontaneity back into clubbing." Initially the Brain Dancing parties were run on a 'reveal concept' – the policy would be to book a guest and not reveal their identity, with the only way of finding out being to turn up at the club. A 'free before midnight' entry fee also applied to ensure that the club nights were accessible to everyone regardless of their financial situation.

"It removed the reliance on a ‘hypey’ booking to get the venue busy and made it more of an exciting thing; not just for the dancers but for us too," says Etherson. "Everyone likes a bit of risk, eh? Musically we’re very open-minded, I couldn’t pigeonhole our sets." This broad-minded approach is reflected in the four tracks that make up Far from Finished. A wide range of artists influenced the duo during the making of the EP, and Brain Dancing equally take inspiration from Glasgow's unique club scene, citing the energy and sense of humour that sets the city apart from other locations in the UK.

As Etherson puts it: "You can get away with playing slightly off-kilter party tracks every so often and it's accepted, not shunned. There’s a uniqueness about the crowds in Glasgow, right from the get-go they are so up for it. I guess it’s a by-product of the tight licensing laws; clubbers only have a short time to dance, so they don’t waste it." 

A culmination of these influences, Far from Finished is as energetic, boisterous and diverse as Glasgow itself. Humour is ever-present too; as Etherson explains, the wryly-titled opening track Far from Finished, from which the record takes its name, is "essentially as obvious as it sounds; it had been worked on and put to the bottom of the pile too many times to count. So for a long time it literally followed its name." 

Anderson continues: "Getting in the studio can be quite difficult at times. It's very mood-dependant, but after running the club night for over a year it gave us the itch to sculpt some music that we could play out. This is what has been giving us the energy and the positive outlook to write. Having an end goal like a club night or record label is always good for motivation".

Built on a foundation of urban rave and 80s electro, Far from Finished packs a range of musical references into four neat tracks. From the riot of synth loops of the opening track and its melodic fixations, to the joyful closer Runaway, these tracks are bound to work their way into many DJ sets in the coming months. Asked to cite their own favourite track from the EP, the pair both agree that "it's a toss up between Opti C Dorian and Runaway." 

"Dance music at times can be quite melody-shy," explains Etherson, "and we’ve tried to make an effort to write music that works well in clubs but keeps this sense of complexity and emotiveness. We actually decided to make a video around Opti C Dorian as it is the perfect middle ground on the EP."

Much like the EP's title, Brain Dancing's foray into production is also far from finished. In fact, Anderson says, the duo are only just getting started. "We do actually have a second EP lined up with [Boysnoize Records], the lead track on which is our favourite thing we’ve ever created together. We're excited to see it come out – keep them johns peeled!"

Far From Finished is released on 7 Sep via via BNR TRAX