|Featured Band (11): Oxford Band Trophy Wife Shows Languor Is An Energy|
|Written by DJ Space|
|Tuesday, 11 January 2011 10:23|
Trophy Wife is part of the emergent collective of musicians, artists and writers based in Oxford, England known as Blessing Force, whose acts - which include Jonquil, Neon Pulse, Pet Moon, Chad Valley, Fixers, Solid Gold Dragons, and Rhosyn - are following closely in the footsteps of local math rock band Foals. The band employs a system of electronic keyboards, drum patterns and plucked guitars, accompanied by delicate, softly sung vocals, to create an intelligent indie-electronica sound that is making welcome waves in the music world.
The line-up consists of Jody Prewett (vocals, guitar, and bass), Ben Rimmer (keyboards), and Kit Monteith (drums and percussion), who previously played together as a trio in a math rock band called Wait For Coniston. The band members also exercise control over all aspects of their artwork, photography, and videos.
"We are all descendants of Cornish sailors, and Jody has an encyclopedic knowledge of Welsh sporting statistics between the years 1991-1995," Trophy Wife told There Goes the Fear.
"We have been making music together for about 7 years in various different forms. Us meeting each other was a case of mistaken identity; Jody pretended to be a female drummer so he could get into Kit’s post-rock band," Trophy Wife revealed to There Goes the Fear. "We started recording dancey music late at night over a few drinks. Things grew and we set out to challenge ourselves and do something that was new to us."
Kit Monteith's drum kit is "the only one of its kind and Kit learned to play drums on it during his youth." Trophy Wife disclosed to TLOBF. "The drum set up... was built in the 1970's by a jazz musician."
"We used to practice in a cluttered suburban garage on cold winter evenings," Trophy Wife explained to The 405. "This is where we forged a kind of psychic understanding of one another. I think that's really important for any band to have. So in many ways we inspired each other to create the music we are making."
"The band grew from the three of us getting in late at night with some beers and a lot of weed, and trying to record the most satisfying melodies we could muster over an endless disco beat," Ben Rimmer of Trophy Wife told One For The People.
"The three of us are very much part of a small collective of like-minded musicians who have spent years on the road together, collaborated with one another and generally tried our best to avoid getting on the treadmill of normal life," Trophy Wife continued to The 405. "We all help to drive each other forward."
The Oxford-based Trophy Wife should not be confused with either the Vancouver, British Columbia-based instrumental band or the Philadelphia based grunge band of the same name. "We wanted a name that reflects the strange balance between the kitsch and the desolate that we strive for in the music," Trophy Wife explained to Dazed Digital.
"Our name and artwork are all tied together," Monteith told NME. "The idea of a Trophy Wife has a desolate side to it despite the glitzy exterior. We feel that sits in line with what we are doing musically."
"We’ve had the name for a while and it seemed to suit the sounds we started making," Trophy Wife continued to There Goes the Fear. "To us, it’s a name that is both glamorous and glitzy yet somehow inherently dark. In many ways this is also how we see our music; Kit had heaps of old manual photographs of these desolate, windswept English locations and we pasted the words ‘Trophy Wife’ in big pink letters onto them and we really liked the relationship between the two."
"The name has been around for some time, it just seemed to suit the sounds we were making when we started up," Trophy Wife confirmed to TLOBF. "We liked the sense of detatchment and the contrast between the name and images."
The band does not appear worried about the name confusion. "Right, I'm pretty sure these guys work in the Accounts department," Trophy Wife joked to One For The People. "They always copy our ideas."
"We are all from Oxford, we live there now," Trophy Wife explained to There Goes the Fear. "It has a lot of musicians for such a small city so it is very easy to start up a band here. Everyone knows each other and is aware of what is progressing musically around them. That atmosphere has certainly helped us although we’re not sure if our sound is directly linked to the city. It can feel a bit claustrophobic, it’s a universe all of its own but there’s always a lot of creative activity going on. We grew up in the surrounding suburban neighbourhoods where there’s not much else to do other than immerse yourself in your favourite music."
"There’s always been a sense of collectivity and a self-sufficiency," Trophy Wife continued to TLOBF. "This group of musicians have been solidly touring and making music in various guises for some time now. We’ve learnt a lot from those experiences and feel more confident and independent now. It’s not some members only club, just a group of people who know each other through shared experience, have a similar outlook and are thus naturally affiliated."
The band cites influences as diverse as Ennio Morricone, Fleetwood Mac, Hank Marvin, Nirvana, PJ Harvey, Polmo Polpo, Studio, The Monks, The Notwist, Thomas Mapfumo, and Tortoise. In response to constant questions about the band's music-style, Trophy Wife describes its music as "ambitionless office Disco" and "pentatonic pop."
"We've all worked a bunch of soulless jobs that at times feel like they're eating away at you. But 'ambitionless office disco' refers more to the music than to that world," Trophy Wife told Dazed Digital.
"Most descriptions of bands are often misplaced or too generic," Trophy Wife explained to There Goes the Fear. "We wanted to connect ourselves to something that is specific to us so we came up with our own term to describe our music. We also came up with commuter pop and pentatonic disco."
"With sparse melodies, melancholic beats and lush, echoing vocals, Oxford trio, Trophy Wife announce their arrival with a lingering whisper of great promise that suggests a serious force to be reckoned with," record label Moshi Moshi states.
"A lot of effort has apparently been expended on making this music sound as effortless as possible," Paul Lester reported in the Guardian.
"Like Vampire Weekend playing New Order," Paul Lester added.
"We didn’t set out to form a band, we just found ourselves wanting to make music that was essentially reserved in nature," Trophy Wife confirmed to One For The People.
"Sparse rhythms melt around chiming guitars, augmented by Jody Prewett's fragile, restrained vocals," Fame magazine said.
"They're overall musical vibe is an infectious blend of melodic, prog indie disco which has got us all hooked and we've only heard three tracks," One For The People wrote.
"After first covering Joanna Newsom’s ‘The Book of Right On’, where the trio recycled nothing from the original track and reworked the parts from scratch, Trophy Wife was born," Dazed Digital reported. Trophy Wife's cover of "The Book of Right On" can be listened to on the band's Myspace page or on Soundcloud.
"The Joanna Newsom cover was the catalyst, the start of the band really," Trophy Wife explained to The 405. "It was very spontaneous and marked the beginning of how we work together in a group dynamic. We came up with the term 'live-remixing'- sort of half way between a cover and a remix. We liked the idea of guitar bands in the fifties and sixties covering each others songs. We aim to make our remixing an extension of that premise, less sterile and more a form of communication between artists. Two of us had been living in a big communal house which was a constant cacophony of music and late nights. We arrived home one particular night after some seafood linguine and set about building a dance track around the main vocal hook. We wanted it to sound like a Swedish house producer remixing Ennio Morricone."
"We also did our own version of 'Miami' by Foals recently and it's something we enjoy doing," Trophy Wife continued to The 405.
"We did a cover of Miami by Foals which may surface at some point and there are a few remixes in the pipeline. In terms of collaborations, Andre 3000 would have to be top of our list. We also really like the idea of working with Dan Lissvik from Studio in some way," Trophy Wife confirmed to Dazed Digital.
"For one song called 'Lyoness', we called upon the ghosts of Cornish sailors," Trophy Wife disclosed to The 405.
Trophy Wife toured last year with fellow Oxonians Foals and also supported London's Bombay Bicycle Club. Moshi Moshi recently released the band's debut single "Microlite," which can be listened to on the band's Myspace page.
"We have known one another [the Foals] for some time," Trophy Wife explained to There Goes the Fear. "Kit went to primary school with Yannis (Philippakis) and most of us lived together up until recently. It’s obviously great touring with friends and things felt really natural and relaxed on that tour. We feel lucky to have had the opportunity to open the shows for them so early on."
"Yannis [Philippakis of Foals] lived in the next room to where we recorded and we kept him up at night. He'd come in from time to time to tell us to turn it down," Trophy Wife confirmed to One For The People.
"Earlier in the year we lived in (Foals HQ) The House Of Supreme Mathematics," Trophy Wife told NME. "We currently share a house with Chad Valley and Solid Gold Dragons."
"We weren’t expecting to get something out so early on, and we have always talked about Moshi as a label we’d love to put something out on," Trophy Wife continued to There Goes the Fear. "They introduced us to stuff by Teeth, Dntel and James Yuill and were always going to be our first choice to release with. It’s an awesome label and they really seem to understand what we’re doing."
"We like Teeth, Friendly Fires and Dntel, all of whom we discovered through Moshi. It was definitely our first choice of label to release our debut on so we feel very lucky," Trophy Wife confirmed to Dazed Digital.
"Getting the copies of our single through the post was pretty great," Trophy Wife added in an interview with There Goes the Fear. "Either that or coming off stage at Brighton Dome on the Foals tour; that was the most enjoyable show of our lives I think."
"Microlite is so fully-formed, so perfect, you can hardly believe it's their debut," Paul Lester wrote.
"Their debut single, Microlite, marvellously meticulous in its production, is four minutes of limpid loveliness that suggests – with its gently insistent electronic pulse, swathes of shimmering synths and aching perkiness – Vampire Weekend playing New Order," Paul Lester continued. "It exudes melancholy even as the beat fires up; it's our old friend, sad disco, something to dance to even as you ponder the vapidity and meaninglessness of frivolous self-expression. The keyboards are never less than cute and the singing is so boyish and wan it makes Bernard Sumner sound like Bruce Springsteen."
"The single's flip-side 'Take This Night', displays a similar level of restrained yet meticulous production, but also shows a more dancy side to Trophy Wife as fine needles of percussion rain down around whispers of guitar and night-crawling bass lines," Moshi Moshi continues.
"Besides carefully crafted melodies with an almost melancholic twinge and lush vocals, the trio's b-side 'Take This Night’ is a more upbeat but equally beautiful percussive track with singer Jody Prewett’s soft vocals overlapping a catchy bassline," Dazed Digital wrote.
Trophy Wife has recently announced the release a double A-side single at the end of February "The Quiet Earth/White Horses," and "The Quiet Earth" can also be listened to on Soundcloud.
"We’re looking to release something early next year to follow up ‘Microlite’," Trophy Wife revealed to TLOBF in December. "I think we’ve pretty much decided which songs we’d like to put out next. We’re starting to think about the artwork now."
"After releasing their acclaimed debut single ‘Microlite’ in November along with playing their first ever live shows... Oxford trio Trophy Wife have announced their follow up AA single," PR Company Anorak London posted on Soundcloud. "‘The Quiet Earth’ / ‘White Horses’ will be released on February 28th through Moshi Moshi Records and cements the band as a serious force to be reckoned with in 2011."
"Things have come together quickly and we’ve been very busy over the last few months," Trophy Wife told TLOBF. "The biggest challenge for us has been getting the live show up and running as we had a very specific idea of how we were going to approach it from very early on. We started out as a studio project before even considering performing as a live band. We’re just really enjoying the opportunity to play live and for people to hear our music."
The video for Trophy Wife's debut single "Microlite" was filmed in Oxford. The video can be viewed here .
"It's a kind of murder mystery," Trophy Wife told The 405.
"The concept was created by our good friend Joseph Keirs; he developed things with the director, David Trumble, and between all of us we managed to piece it together," Trophy Wife explained to There Goes the Fear. "It’s testament to Joseph and David’s ability that they managed to create a sort of mini-film with a narrative in such a short space of time. We wanted to do something that wasn’t just us playing our instruments and tried to create a Kubrick-esque atmosphere that draws you in. The next one is going to be more conventional, without the fatality."
The band played acoustically for the first time for BalconyTV, and the video can be viewed here .
"We wanted to somehow embody all the fun from the preceding night whilst containing the quiet melancholy that is so often found when you're still awake at 4:00 in the morning and you're not sure why," Trophy Wife disclosed to Balcony TV about "Microlite."
The band's second acoustic performance was for FlyTV. Trophy Wife performed two songs for FlyTV, playing a stripped back version of single "Microlite" as well as a new song entitled "High Windows." The video of "Microlite" can be viewed here , and the video of "High Windows" can be viewed here .
"For us, the writing and recording process happen simultaneously," Trophy Wife explained to The 405. "With each song we set out to progress and better the one that came before it. That has to be the aim. We're beginning to explore lyrical themes and narratives a lot more with some of the newer songs we're working on."
Another track "Spinalonga" can be listened to here. The haunted Greek island of Spinalonga is located just off Elounda and Agios Nikolaos in the bay of Mirabello.
"We’ve got a backlog of new songs and unfinished ideas sitting on the hard drive," Trophy Wife told TLOBF.
"We're applying the finishing touches to a whole set of songs at the moment," Trophy Wife confirmed to One For The People. "You can expect more of what you might have heard from us so far. We work within quite a definite format, both in recording and production."
"There is, as we have said, an equally important place in pop for music that eschews gregariousness for gorgeousness, that shyly seeks solace in the studio, that is absolutely strident in its diffident difference from the rest," Paul Lester summarised.
"This Oxford trio show, as John Lydon would never have said, that languor is an energy," he concluded.
Listening to Oxford's Trophy Wife, one can sense that energy.
|Last Updated on Friday, 14 January 2011 12:41|