By Ben Easey
Separating yourself from the crowd in London isn’t always easy but it’s something that Ten Fé’s infectious disc-pop-come-new-wave does rather well.
Yes indeed, not only are Ten Fé making waves in our prestigious capital but throughout much of Europe as well – recently playing their biggest headline show in Berlin.
It seems like there is always something going on in the Ten Fé camp, whether it’s working with Ewan Pearson (Goldfrapp, Depeche Mode) or sessioning at Maida Vale they’re a dedicated, hardworking bunch.
Spilt Milk caught up with Ben and Leo, the backbone of the operation, to see what they’ve been up to recently and talk all things Ten Fé.
As if that wasn’t enough, you can also check out a brand new Ewan Pearson remix below of the band’s new single, ‘turn’, below.
First off, can you introduce yourself guys?
(We’re) Ben and Leo from London who record as a duo and go out on the road with mates on bass, drums and keys.
I saw that you were in Berlin recently, what did you get up to while you were there?
We had a gig at Lido, so we went a couple of days early to do a bit of press for the Remix EP we’ve got coming out and to see friends / vibe merchants … it was the first time we’d been back since finishing the album.
I noticed that you describe yourself as a london based band but I saw you describe ‘turn’ as written in a bedroom in Birmingham. Was that on tour? Or do you just move around a lot?
Right. Yeah, we are based in London – we live here, and have our studio here in Walthamstow, E17. But it’s good for us to get out of London as much as we can- Berlin to do the album was massive. And we wrote and demo-ed a lot of the album at Leo’s Dad’s house in Birmingham. We need to live in London, but good to have distance from it as well.
What do you do when you aren’t Ten Fé?
(We) Eat sleep drink Ten Fé, really. Busk on the district line from time to time. No Johnny-two-bands round here, Nigel!
Can you talk me through your set up? And how it differs in a live/studio environment?
Yeah, there is definitely a divide, but it’s a healthy divide at them moment. As yet, whenever we’ve been in the studio, it’s just been the two of us, and a producer. So we play everything – all instruments – ourselves, and work from the demos we’ve made – it’s pretty controlled. And it’s heavily influenced by the producer we’re working with.
Live, we’re playing these tunes with a bunch of our mates we’ve collected over the years – a lot less controlled. And usually a lot less electronic cos we value the sound being made live in the room – 4 part harmony / the played feel between bass and drums. As the live side of things has got deeper over the last year, can definitely see this affecting the way we are in the studio in future…so let’s see!
I see so many artists names dropped when trying to describe your sound, where do you guys see yourself on the musical spectrum?
Haha Right! Yeah, one of the main things we decided when we started the band is that we weren’t gonna be a slave to one particular style. We’d both been in bands and around scenes before where there’s a pressure to slot into one way of playing, looking, etc.
Consequently in this band now – it’s all about the song itself, not the style it’s played in… so we follow whatever style serves the song. On the music spectrum, that’s how we fit. There are certain sounds we return to, but to be honest I don’t think we’re overtly aware of them.
Are you making any statements with the new music?
Anyone who releases an album is making a statement. To us the themes we’re dealing with on this album are clear – but it really is up to the people who listen to it to work those out.
How did working with Ewan Pearson come about?
We loved the ‘Jagwar Ma’ album he’d just done so we sent him the demos and said ‘ewanna be in our gang’ and he said ‘yus’.
Has it changed anything for you?
Yes, the more time you spend in the studio with someone who knows more than you about the studio, the better. Ewan’s got a deep knowledge of music, so hopefully that’s rubbed off on us. Also we made this album without any label; very good for us to know we can do this on our own.
What’s next for Ten Fé?
Rough Trade East at the end of October for their 40th Birthday party. Putting on a bunch of parties in our studio in November so working up for that. And Twin Peaks are touring over here in the few weeks so wanna catch them whilst we can…love em
Check out the new remix here: https://soundcloud.com/tenfemusic/turn-ewan-pearson
Ten Fé play Rough Trade East on Wednesday the 26th of October. Keep your eyes peeled for Tickets here: http://www.songkick.com/concerts/27753929-ten-fe-at-rough-trade-east?utm_medium=organic&utm_source=microformat