We caught the Belfast-based house heads in the middle of their hectic tour for a quick Q&A about their favorite records, their choice of gear and their upcoming joints with John Talabot and Throne of Blood.
The rising success of Northern-Irish duo, Bicep, are a refreshing testament to the fact that real talent and honest dedication trumps networking, trend-surfing and other fickle bi-products of a hyper-democratized global music scene where ascension through eager peddling of form over substance and just plain old ‘knowing the right people’ is a little too easy. Don’t get us wrong: we heart the internet. But there are certain dubious downsides to navigating on a playing field where everyone has access to everything all the time.
However, this is where gym-obsessed house music freaks Bicep excel and stick it to mediocrity by digging out the rarest, dopest gems from the lush undergrowth of undiscovered house music history while producing some of the tightest jams around. Their blog Feelmybicep has become one of the main go-tos for dance music aficionados the world over and their ongoing tour sees them play Dutch Dance institution Trouw and the almighty Berghain. Coming straight outta Belfast and aiming their beats directly at your disco muscle, we advise you to keep your attention firmly fixed on the Bicep boys.
Here’s what they had to say about 90s house, the art of digging for vocal samples, and their favorite venues.
Where does your obsession with house music come from?
I think we always had an obsession with house, the feeling of discovering a gem in the rough still inspires us as much now as the day we started collecting records.
What’s currently your main source of inspiration?
I'm not sure if we have one main source, constantly listening to old music and watching old films definitely helps us get creative.
What's your favorite decade when it comes to dance music?
I would say 86-96, these 10 years account for around 80% of our record collection!
Do you spend a lot of time digging for vocal samples?
Yes, more than you can imagine. A vocal really has to strike a chord with both of us, we never just try and cram a vocal into tracks, most are built round them.
What sort of equipment do use?
Production wise we are stripping it down and going to start buying more analog effect units in the new year. Consistant favorites the juno 106 and M1 are key to a lot of the music we make.
How much would you say you rely on technology to make music?
Not so much, we try not to overcomplicate things and also have an approach similar to how they had in the early 90s when they were very restricted... you need to make every element count. Sometimes with technology you tend to overcomplicate as you have too much choice, saying that we do embrace new advancements and try make them work for us, but essentially the key is sometimes less is more.
Could you take us through your creative process – how do you usually get from A – B?
It's quite simple, we usually have an idea for a track, this could be a concept or a feeling or even just a drum beat. From there we sketch stuff out really quickly and try and built what we envisaged, Sometimes it works sometimes it doesn't but we leave track to sit for months and then come back to them with fresh ideas, the process is slow but works for us.
What’s the best club you’ve ever played and why?
It's a hard one to decide, we are suckers for a nice booth... places like Bob Beaman, Fabric, Sub Club, Space and Nokia Factory in Helsinki all have real nice setups, especially for playing vinyl. Then there are clubs like Werk it in barcelona and Corsica Studios which we have killer parties in everytime we play. In December we play in both Trouw and Panorama Bar, ask us again then ;)
More music for Aus, Wolf Music, Throne of Blood and our own label... also a few remixes to come out on John Talabot's label Hivern Discs.