When we first interviewed //orangenoise last year, we were as interested in their background (they live in Pakistan) as we were in their music. This year? We could care less where they are from. Their new album, A Journey to the Heart of Matter instantly immerses you in a wall of echo, reverb and beauty. It creates a world where there are no boundaries and no cares. While they will continue to be compared to the likes of My Bloody Valentine and Swervedriver, they truly should be judged without the old men of the sea slowing them down. The flaw in much of the psych and shoegaze of the new millenium, is that it forgets about melody, structure and brevity. The eleven songs on the new album average around four minutes, breathlessly leaving you wanting more, as a new song kicks in.
Todd talked to Talha Wynne and Daniel Arthur Panjwaneey about the differences between the new album and their first EP. They also discussed appearing on Pakistan televsion with Pakistan’s equivalent of John Peel (or was it Simon Cowell….?): Gumby.
TDOA: How did the songwriting process for the new album differ from the EP? The complexity of these songs is tremendous. I wonder about the formulation of these songs. Do you start with single guitar lines, or perhaps bass, keyboard, vocal melodies? I’m stumped!
Talha: Thanks! For me it’s usually some guitar chord/melody noodling that leads me to a song, then as the rhythm builds up it gets clearer what direction the song is headed in, after that its just a lot of improvisation and intuition that produces the final song. I like to be not too much in control of where the song is headed, a crazy jam usually determines it. Lyrics really have the last say on our tracks.
Daniel: I don’t think the process has changed in any way from the EP at all in terms of a process, but for me most of the songwriting starts on the bass, I play it for the guys then we jam to it a bit, figure out what fits, then there’s obviously the certain elements that I’d want on the song too which would be specifically mentioned if needed but that usually never happens, everything just works out somehow! A vocal melody usually forms up somewhere subconsciously when we’re working on the structure.
I don’t write lyrics till the very end though.
TDOA: I read a reference to the fact that finding a good recording studio isn’t always easy in Pakistan. Can you tell us about the recording process? Who produced and engineered it? How many days did it take to record it. What were some of the challenges that you experienced?
Daniel: Forget good, they cost an arm and a leg too! The process was a bit interesting though, 3 of us huddled ourselves into a room at Danial’s place and recorded the drums bass and one layer of guitars live and simultaneously, these were put down as solid rhythm tracks after which we overdubbed additional guitars, synth and vocals. We produced and engineered the album ourselves, all of this took around 3 weeks to record and another 3-4 weeks to mix and produce. The challenges were crazy fun, one of them was obviously playing all of this live and being tight as ever for one take recordings without a metronome, the second one was the decision to go with all dynamic microphones on the drumkit.
Talha: Yeah, this was an all out home-made record. We practically never left the house for anything. It was also a major learning process for me in general as this time round I was dealing with drums differently from the previous album, they’re much more up-front. The drums had to be ‘proper’ this time round, that was a mission I had set in the back of my head for this record.
TDOA: We talked at length, the last time we spoke, about pedals, guitars and amps. Anything new that we’re hearing on this record?
Talha: This time around I decided to take a break from effects. What you hear on the album is an almost untreated guitar with just basic EQ and compression. I didn’t want to use any on-board effects or really didn’t feel the need to. In fact most of the tracks on the album have been centered around the sound of this strat-type guitar I picked up from a smuggled goods flea market here. I guess it was more about the song-writing this time round. Also a lot of focus was put on to making sure the vocals were nice and dreamy.
Daniel: New strings!
TDOA: Can tell us a bit about the solo work that you’ve been doing (Toll Crane, Alien Panda Jury)? How do those projects differ from what you’re doing with //orangenoise?
Talha: Toll Crane started as just tampering with electronic music and a place to vent out my jazz ramblings. Now it has moved on to more serious approaches to dance music in a different light. I’m not much of a producer but I am very much inspired by the sound of the London underground and the L.A beat scene.
Daniel: Alien Panda Jury is a bunch of musical ideas that float around in my mind, smooshed into one
thing. It’s more beat oriented and electro-acoustic with a touch of eastern vibes. That being a
solo project from a laptop right out of the bedroom, all done in spare time. //orangenoise is an out
and out band.
TDOA: Can you explain what Uth Records is and how you came to be on the show? What impact does appearing on a show like that have for your band?
Daniel: Uth Records is a televised show sponsored by a Telecom company here called Ufone. They were
accepting demos for their 2nd season and we decided to submit one and got in!. The impact was that it was televised to the entire nation, got decent coverage and a few more people know about us now
Talha: What Danny said.
TDOA: Is Louis Pinto (Gumby) considered an iconic figure in Pakistan? I can’t think of anything comparable in the U.S.. Would he be comparable to someone like John Peel in England or is he more like a Simon Cowell? (I hope these references make sense).
Daniel: Yep he is, Louis John Pinto is quite arguably one of the most well-known and technically
skilled drummers in the nation. That being said he’s also one of the most down to earth people one
could ever come across plus a brilliant sense of humor, so yeah he’s nothing like Simon Cowell either!
Talha: Gumby is a versatile drummer and a really chill guy, and probably very well known all over asia. Most of the young and upcoming drummers of Pakistan look up to him as an inspiration.
TDOA: The new album was reviewed favorably in Rolling Stone- India. In the U.S. that would be a massive accomplishment. Tell your feelings about the review and appearing in Rolling Stone. Deerhunter? I’m not sure they completely understood the album….
Talha: It was crazy, I mean it’s cool that a lot of publications and stuff are on the look out for new music and this support is really all we need. Also a bit of stumping that took place recently: we got air play on London’s XFM on the Mary Anne Hobbs show and that was A HUGE thing for all of us. Most of the music we follow, we discovered through her mixes and shows and to hear her give us a shout out and share our Soundcloud on her show really blew us away.
Daniel: To be entirely honest… a bit stunned that we got a review by them.. it did feel like an
TDOA: You’ve released the new album, for free, through Bandcamp. Any thoughts to try and make money on your music by releasing it through iTunes or actually requiring people to pay for it on Bandcamp?
Talha: We made it a ‘pay what you want’ deal cuz why not? And the thing with a free download is more people would download the album than if they were required to pay for it, and honestly I don’t think we could’ve made any money considering we’re still pushing to break into the scene where we can get enough people on board to actually consider paying for the album. Maybe another release down the road? Who knows.
TDOA: We’ve asked you about the music scene in Pakistan before, but it’s been a year. How often do you get to play live?
Talha: Playing live really depends on what we are doing at the moment. Mostly because its a self funded thing and we have to set up our own shows. But the start of this year was pretty busy gigging-wise as we had shows to play almost every weekend for 3 months non-stop. That kind of prepared us for the recording process, I feel.
Daniel: We actually got to play a lot of live shows in the past year. The scene has grown a bit more too, a few new acts Lower Sindh Swing Orchestra is a brilliant new band here. Two acts we mentioned last time: Asfandyar Khan & Basheer and the pied pipers also released amazing albums this year. 6LA8 probably released like 7 since (ok maybe not 7 but I’ve lost count!) Lots of music here!
TDOA:You’ve always done a great job with the visual element of the band. Any plans to make videos for this record?
Talha: Yeah we have a video in the pipeline a friend of mine is on it, lets see how that goes!
TDOA: Obviously, we’d love to see you play in the U.S. (South By Southwest!!!). Does Pakistan give you opportunities to make any kind of government sponsored trips abroad to play?
Daniel: We’d love to be playing in the U.S too! You mean to say the Government of Pakistan spends money to send you on tour? What a wonderful concept, if it only existed!
Talha: HAHA. Man that would be so friggin awesome if the government could sponsor a trip for us just to play at SXSW or any festival for that matter. I mean all we need is someone to fund our tickets. We’ve got enough connections to get us shows lined up for weeks on end. Really hoping we get to tour any place out of Pakistan very soon! We’ve got all this energy bottled up and would very much like to unleash it!