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Q&A: Calyx & TeeBee

artist-calyxandteebee

Last time UKF locked horns with Ram’s strongarm Anglo/Nordic duo Calyx & TeeBee we went in deep and looked back over their epic 12-track upload history… We even got the earliest public word on their next album during the process.

In the advent of this whopper below, they’ve now clocked in at a hefty 13 UKF uploads…

With word of their third album officially confirmed, we’ve gone in deep once again. Read on to find everything they can possibly confirm about the forthcoming Calyx & TeeBee long-player right now… And how YOU might be able to help them name it!

So everyone is all like ‘Calyx & TeeBee are back!’ Errr…. Did you go away somewhere?

T: Haha, no… It doesn’t feel like we’re ‘back’. We’ve been very busy DJing and done tonnes of remixes. That said, as far as original work goes, we haven’t had anything out since the last album.

C: No, not since Strung Out VIP. We’ve done 14 remixes, though, so in a way it feels like that’s a whole album in itself. But in between all of those remixes and the DJing, we have indeed been locked in the studio, working on the next album.

How deep are you into it?

C: VERY deep! We’ve submitted 18 tracks. We’re on the home straight now.

T: Pretty much, we’re waiting on a bunch of vocals, there’s the inevitable letting go of certain tracks and many structural changes after testing tracks out. But as far as musical content, we’ve got more than we need. Don’t you think Larry?

C: Yes. Now we’re knee deep in mixdowns… More’s the pity.

Two years… Did you even take a break between albums?

C: About six months tops. But that wasn’t a break, that was just to do lots of remixes! We were in such a great position with them and were very occupied with those projects, they were very inspiring. So after we finished a bunch of them we started sketching some of the tracks for this album.

When you look back over All Or Nothing were there things you wanted to do differently?

T: As artists if you keep doing things the same over and over you stagnate. So yeah we did want to do things differently and keep ourselves challenged. All Or Nothing was such a lengthy process; we bit off more than we could chew at points! We lived up to the title, though, we threw everything at it and Ram did an incredible job working it. In that sense there are a lot of similarities; we’ve invested everything in the album and it’s such a great project to create; an album says a lot more about you as an act than a single. With a single you feel more obligated to make something heavy-hitting. But with an album you can show much more depth and variety as artists. We love writing albums don’t we Larry, even though we hate it?

C: We do! Singles and EPs have come a little bit more throwaway. When you buy an album you’re investing in an artist and getting so much more of a journey and getting into their mind. Single tracks come and go; but albums are really milestones of that moment.

Did the success of All Or Nothing cause a challenge when you stepped up to make the new album? You’ve set a high benchmark…

C: No, the success was more inspiring than a challenge. It opened us up to many more ears and reminded us to keep evolving and push ourselves. We’ve always strived to have a signature sound and I think we’ve got that. Any one we love and respect in any genre has it; you could listen to listen to any track and you know it’s that artist. That’s how you make a mark on the scene; having a signature.

It’s about embracing the music we love and understand about D&B. It’s like when someone comes up and asks me to play more neurofunk. What is neurofunk? I hate labelling things – it’s drum & bass, it’s such a broad spectrum and we love it all.

Well you’ve definitely got a signature sound… Before and after All Or Nothing. How about other challenges?

T: Yeah, lots… We’re very stubborn! We never want anyone else to do anything. We always want to do things ourselves. So we’ve learnt a lot – during this album and everything else we’ve done – because of that necessity to take things in our own hands and get things exactly how we want to. Or at least strive to get things as perfect as possible. One challenge we’ve had on this album is combining production with songwriting. With songwriting there’s a different set of rules; it’s not just about smashing out a banger. There’s a whole different dynamic and that’s been quite a challenge.

Songwriting eh? Sounds like someone’s ‘doing a Sigma’!?

C: Okay two things… Firstly, you only have to listen to our output to see we’re not going to transfer what we’re about and we’re not about to ‘do a Sigma’ as you put it. Secondly, massive respect to Sigma, Wilkinson and all our peers who are following that path, doing something they absolutely love and doing it incredibly well and successfully.

We have no fear of alienating people who have followed us from back in the day; people who know what we’re about will know we’re making the music we want to make; living and breathing the music in the way me and Teebs have. We will never write music just to preach to the choir. Also it’s worth observing that some people will always want you to replicate that era that they got into you. A minority of people who got into us during Anatomy moaned a little when All Or Nothing came along. All we can do is keep loving D&B and keep pushing ourselves forward… If we stayed in the one formula then we’d have quit this a long, long time ago out of pure boredom! Always forward….

Amen! So we’ve officially heard two tracks so far… A Day That Never Comes and Snakes & Ladders. Snakes & Ladders is a bit of a hurter!

T: Yes, definitely. It’s quite jumpy! We’ve never done any jump up but that root is pretty playful before it drops into it the real darkness. It’s about embracing the music we love and understand about D&B. It’s like when someone comes up and asks me to play more neurofunk. What is neurofunk? I hate labelling things – it’s drum & bass, it’s such a broad spectrum and we love it all. It seems a bit silly not to explore all corners, we’ve always loved that heavier jump up sound so this came out of that thought.

You dropped a few more explorations on your Mistajam mix too…

T: We did. We played a collaboration with Ayah Marrar called The Fall which is something you’d never expect from us. We also dropped a track called Get It Twisted which is exactly as the title suggests… A classic Calyx & TeeBee bassline, all twisted and fucked up! We had to hold back hard on the mix because we didn’t want to tease too much of the new stuff yet.

Get It Twisted and The Fall will be on the album, then?

T: No question. We picked those two tracks for a reason… They’re very different for what people might expect from us and they’re not ‘the big singles’ as it were. As far as I’m concerned they’ll be on the album….

C: That said, we’ve made too many tunes so we can’t confirm anything at this stage! Everything we’ve done, though, will come out in one way or another… Exclusive b-sides and things like that.

What else can you confirm, then? The last album had mad collabos with the likes of Beardyman and Craze. Anything like that on the horizon?

T: We actively went out and sought collaborative works with people we really admire and wanted to work with on that album. But because we’ve been so busy DJing and touring we’ve stuck to ourselves. There’s no collaborations with other D&B producers and we can’t tell you anything about any vocalists. But the main body of work is me and Larry.

Keeping it DIY, like you mentioned before… Including a good chunk of the vocals again Calyx?

C: Yes, I’m singing on a good four or five of the tracks. I’ve been a bit more adventurous on this one. I see singing in the same way you might see acting as I’ve explored different characters and different personas. I’ve done a bit deeper, more soulful vocals and a few others where I’ve gone a bit higher. Or, with Day That Never Comes, I went balls-deep and got rockstar drunk to record it.

Real life drunk?

C: Very real life drunk! Even Teebs who’s by and large tee-total had to have a few whiskeys…

T: It was the first vocal recording session we did for the album. If I had to sing in front of Larry I’d be bricking it! So he was like ‘right, let’s loosen up’ and conjured up a bottle of something. It was great.

Nerves eh? Really?

C: It was less about nerves and more about turning into a rock singer. You can’t sing rock sober. Well, I can’t. We needed a vibe! We’ve got an amazing chemistry and have been collaborating for 12 years… If there were any nerves we’d never have got this far!

Thought so. So how far left have you got to go until the album is completely out there?

C: We’ve got three singles, all scheduled. We’re just crossing the t’s, dotting the i’s and getting the vocals committed and done.

Can you confirm the title, then? All Or Nothing had a lot of meaning behind it…

T: It did indeed. Naming an album is so hard and to be honest we’ve not put that much thought into it. Only about three years!

C: We need to name it pretty quickly. So if any UKF readers have suggestions – and we go with any of those suggestions – we’ll sort out the mother of all prizes. Seriously now, hit us…

You heard them! What would YOU call the next Calyx & TeeBee album? Drop it in the comments below or tell them on Facebook.