From the hypnotic jump-up subversion of Sawn Off to the gnarly chop-slaps of Ghostwriter by way of Calyx’s whisky-soaked vocals on Day That Never Comes, Calyx & TeeBee have been drip-feeding us some serious bangers this year.
These deadly dispatches will culminate in their third album: Calyx & TeeBee – 1×1. The duo reckon we could hear the album as soon as the end of the year. We called them up to squeeze them for as much information as possible. Recognise…
We’ve heard six tracks so far… Will all of them be on the album?
Calyx: Maybe… Maybe not. We do like to keep tracks as exclusive B-sides, so people are getting something special. The A-sides of the singles will definitely be on the album but it depends how things shape up.
So when do we actually get our paws on the album, then?
TeeBee: There’s one more single to come then the plan is drop the album soon after that. It could be as soon as the end of the year.
Calyx: It’s done. It’s wrapped up.
TeeBee: Hold on… Nothing is wrapped up until the final masters are in.
Calyx: Actually yeah… If we write something between now and then that needs to be on the album then it will go on it!
But that nasty nitty gritty mixdown stage is over, right?
Calyx: Yep. A million mixdowns per track. Standard!
Last time we spoke you hadn’t agreed on a title… Now you have: 1×1. Tell us about it…
Calyx: There’s a few meanings really. It’s about us being two individuals and uniting for the common goal and it’s also about the process. It’s gruelling! You just work your way from track to track, one by one, making sure they’re all as good as they can be. You go through them, you develop them, you ditch them, you write more, you keep coming back to them… It’s really stressful!
Especially when you’re flipping between individual tracks and looking at the album in its entirety that sounds consistent and works as a whole piece of work…
TeeBee: You forget how much of a ball-ache an album is! I’ve been involved in eight now and, if anything, it gets harder. In terms of consistency, a lot of people are moving away from albums. This is the way the industry has changed and how people’s consumption of music has changed. It’s all about instant gratification now; people want to compile their own albums and playlists. So the art of the album has been lost by many but, for me, it’s still really important; making that statement and taking people on that journey. Compiling it as a whole piece of work is the hardest part; you do something really interesting on one track and you want to apply that to the other tracks… It could go on forever and forever.
Knowing that albums aren’t consumed in the same way as they used to be… Does that make you strive to perfect the album even more and make people realise that albums are a unique way of understanding and getting to know an artist better?
Calyx: Of course we’re trying to perfect the album concept in our own way but at the end of the day people cherry pick, they listen to the previews, they decide the tracks they want to own… We can’t change that. Those days of listening to an album and having tracks that you weren’t sure about to begin with but end up loving the most are – by and large – gone.
TeeBee: The thing is, people have options now. We didn’t before. Back in the day you’d buy the single then you’d buy the album because these were the only things available. I have countless albums where I like four tracks. That’s how it was. So now we have all these ways of listening to music that you don’t have to blindly buy a whole album… That’s why albums aren’t bought as full albums any more.
Good point. Back on a positive flex: Ghostwriter! Have you ever ghostwritten a track before?
TeeBee: Even if we had, we wouldn’t be allowed to talk about it. That’s the nature of ghostwriting; the first thing that happens is you sign a non-disclosure agreement and can’t say anything. That’s how ghostwriting can exist.
Sounds to me like someone’s done some ghostwriting in the past!
TeeBee: Ha! At the end of the day the sample is fucking sick and just fit so well! The idea of the track was to make something future retro… A lot of the guys who come from the 90s school of D&B have given us some really cool feedback on it, which is exactly what we were after… 90s vibes with modern production. 5am, dark club, go apeshit. That’s it!
Nailed it. Talk to me about Doctor…
Calyx: Our label manager suggested working with him. We had a chat, we loved his voice, he delivered massively… He’s on another track on the album too.
Sounds like you’ve got some vocal competition Calyx!
Calyx: No competition at all… He’s a killer vocalist and much better than me!
What about other album tracks you’ve voiced on?
Calyx: There are a few that people may have heard if they’ve seen our shows lately; Takes One To Know One and Cloud 9. They’re a slight departure from the vocals I’ve done before; there are higher notes and a bit further away from my comfort zone of lower notes and deeper vocals. I’m exploring singing like a form of acting and trying different characters. Which I guess sums us up as producers as well… We’re always trying to push ourselves and try different things and not fall into a style we’re comfortable with.
TeeBee: We’re spoken about this before… People want you to stay in the same sound they originally found you on. But you can’t keep on doing the same thing. You need to develop all the time.
The one consistent thing being production values…
TeeBee: That’s the one area when you can be consistent; a track is either poorly produced or well produced. Taste is subjective but production is either there or not. It’s something we’re constantly trying to perfect. I’ve got to be honest; these new guys coming along are keeping us on our toes. They’re at their computers with some cracked software and no one told them that sounding like Noisia is hard, so they find new ways of doing things. You have to stay on top of it at all times… Otherwise the young’uns will come along and take you out!
Massively. Back to the album…. Any surprises or off-piste adventures on it?
Calyx: Not really. There are a few things that are half tempo so not technically straight up drum & bass but we’re not planning on whacking some token house or dubstep tracks on there.
TeeBee: There’s no point! Drum & bass fans don’t want to hear that. They’re militant! So there’s no point in throwing these tracks on for the sake of it. And to be honest I’m not a fan of drum & bass albums with house tracks on… They don’t seem to fit and often get skipped.
Marky did it pretty well earlier this year…
Calyx: He did. But for us it’s not the right fit. We do have some plans under other names… But we’ll never make house under the Calyx & TeeBee name. As far as Calyx & TeeBee goes it’s all about D&B
Ooooh. Are you already operating under the alias?
Calyx: Not yet. We’ve got a lot of stuff written but haven’t even picked a name or labels to release it on!
TeeBee: We have plans, we have avenues and interest and a schedule in our mind. But when we do it, you’ll know all about it. Excuse the pun, but it’s all or nothing. But first; this album!
Have you learnt anything about each other during this album?
TeeBee: We both strive to better ourselves. We wouldn’t work with each other if we didn’t. I’m a very anxious person who’s constantly looking to develop. If things feel stale then I don’t want to be a part of it and I know Larry is the same. It’s adapt or die in this game and we both share the same approach to this… By developing while retaining our own stamp
Calyx: We know each other like brothers; we go that deep and we’ve worked with each other for so long. Finishing an album is one of the most stressful things an artist can do; trying to make tunes you did a year ago sound right against a track you’ve just finished is a really painstaking process. And the beauty of working with each other and knowing each other is how we understand each other; we have patience and confidence in ourselves and each other. So writing albums together is less stressful every time because we know how each other work.
So one more single until we hear it… What can you tell us about it?
Calyx: We’re 90 per cent decided on what that single will be… But you never know. We’re working on something else right now which could takeover that. Never confirm anything until it’s definitely decided.
Sounds like you’re not stopping writing even when the album’s done and dusted…
Calyx: Damn right.Last time we didn’t keep our foot on the productiveity pedal. We did loads of remixes but not original material… This time we’re fully focused on making more original Calyx & TeeBee material.