Interview: Long Legged Creatures Discuss Beginnings, Influences, and Love of Leeds
Long Legged Creatures are Leeds-based band who showcase an impressive blend of live- produced electronica and surreal guitar tones. Having recently released their mind-bending new single 'Demonise', we wanted to return to the chat that we had with them following their explosive show at Hyde Park Book Club as part of Weekend Respite.
To people who haven’t heard of you, how would you summarise your sound?
Seb: I think the whole idea is to capture the spirit of electronic dance music, but quite heavily through an analogue lens. For example, with the bass we are trying to simulate the low- end of dance music, and then I try and make my guitar sound as 'un-guitary' as possible. We want to capture the sound of different dance music feels. Ross has an Ableton setup- so it’s just marrying the two vibes, really.
Well, I wanted to ask about that actually; about what’s physically going on with the technology on stage. Obviously you have the sounds of the instruments, but what sort of things are happening on the Ableton ‘pad’ device that you’re using?
Ross: Yeah sure, bits and bobs really. Actually a lot of it is samples of Beth and Seb.
Oh right, well I definitely heard that in your track ‘CMAD’ which begins with chopped up vocals samples doesn’t it?
Ross: Oh yeah, well that’s an old Astrud Gilberto record . So there’s all sort of bits from old soul records, and then there’s a bit of synthy stuff, so it’s kind of like- as much as possible- the name of the game for me I guess is to blend it all together.
I was really impressed about the way in which, despite being a live band, you managed to produced so many layers of sound on stage to create a really expansive electronic sound. I wanted to talk more about your recording process; you strike me as the kind of band who begins their tracks with improvising, looping or just jamming. How does a jam become a track?
Beth: I think we start off- it’s a weird one- it sorts of flips from a live band setting to looking on a computer screen, and then back to live band. A lot of the time it starts with a bassline that I record into Ross’ Ableton, and then we flesh that out. With all the tunes we try and categorise into genres of drumbeat. The drumbeat is always the thing that defines the genre.
That brings me onto something you said in your interview with Pretend: about how the drum machine initially sought to copy the drummer, and now the reverse is in fact in practise, with the drummer now copying the drum machine. With electronic dance music, it’s often the percussion that shapes or defines the genre. Where does your electronic influence come from- individually, who has brought what to the table?
Ross: So that was my childhood. I grew up on Ableton making dubstep and drum and bass kind of things. I then basically generated a big old bank of different styles, different feels, you know. So that tends to get applied quite categorically by me. So a song will be categorically ‘this kind of feel’ and then Josh would do something on it and make it incredible. But a lot of the percussion stays. A lot of the stuff I’ll be playing will be from the original demo and then that will end up getting over-layed.
Seb: There is definitely a lot of different influences in terms of electronic music. I feel like, well you (Ross) being from Bristol, you like the swaggery 140bpm vibes, but I grew up around a lot of producers and DJs making a lot of drum and bass and stuff. But because I studied guitar and I’m super obsessed with it it’s like what I do.
Ross: It was Beth’s project originally. Beth and two others started it.
Beth: They’re all gone now.
Ross: Yeah, it was more of a jam thing for you guys, and then you landed up using it for some college stuff. Then it went beyond that; I got involved, and then it went beyond that and Seb got invited along, then Josh- onwards and upwards, know what I mean? The more the merrier.
Beth: Well that’s just Leeds though isn’t it?
Seb: Yeah man. Thankfully you can actually do that quite freely here, and there will always be that stuff going on. I’ve only been in the band for like 4 months. Josh the drummer is the latest addition to the group.
Ross: You know if you want to talk about musical influences, as much as musical influences play a part in what we do, it’s also seeing other people play. In the scene that we’re in, we see so many bands playing so many different fields and that gets soaked up more than the influences I guess.
Beth: We’re big sponges really.
Seb: Some of the other band I’m in, I’ve definitely, since playing with you guys, become more sonically adventurous.
Ross: Which is always quite sonically adventurous to begin with.
So when you’ve recorded a track, how much jurisdiction do you have other each other’s contributions? With each instrument- are you left to your own devices and contribute your part on your own terms, or is it more of a case of everyone pitching in and advising each other as a track comes together?
Beth: I think we all bring our own things in, and then once we want to start whittling things down to just really make the tune and actual song, we start saying ‘right that’s really cool you should do that’. But you know, everyone brings really good ideas. But things always get changed a bit.
Seb: Yeah, like I only recorded one tune that’s about to release- obviously there’s a fuck load of demos in the works- but that scenario was that tune that we did with Josh (Joshua Zero, a fellow artists and friend of Long Legged Creatures who joined them on stage to provide vocals in their set). That tune was written out on guitar, and I remember seeing you guys play it live when it had no guitar on it.
I sensed an atmosphere that a lot of the acts today knew each other which was really great. How do you find the music scene in Leeds in general? Are there any venues that you particularly enjoy playing, or indeed simply attending yourselves?
Beth: Yeah we like being part of the leeds scene. It’s very open minded and up for anything really, and that shows in all the venues and events that happen around the place. Here, Hyde Park Book Club has become a bit of a hub for a lot of artists, and the space just keeps getting better, it was just one room when we first got to Leeds. But there’s so many good venues around the place that we like gigging in like Belgrave for its big rig so we can get that proper trouser flapping bass. Brudenell always has a great vibe and the sound in the new community room is hot. Would love to play Temple of Boom at some point.
What sort of live environment do you enjoy the most- a more close and intimate ‘session’ feel, or a more ‘artist/ audience’ divided scenario?
Beth: A mix of both really. An intimate session feel usually means that the rig isn’t loud or bassy enough. But then a big divide between the audience and artist is sometimes a bit dead when you can’t bounce off their energy. So really we’re saying: small room, big rig.
And finally, what can we expect from Long Legged Creatures in the future?
Beth: We’ve just released a single called ‘Spent’ featuring Joshua Zero with Nice People for their compilation album. Get your hands on one! (Also check out Joshua Zero’s solo music, it’s amazing). Then in November, we will be releasing a single called ‘Demonise’, along with a music video. In January 2020 we are having a launch party for the single - 'CMAD', very excited for that, big night ahead. Then a small tour to top it off. Much more to come after that too!