|Album Review: Gorgon City – Sirens|
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Dance music has enjoyed a healthy number of innovators across all sub-genres over the last year and a half, but only few stand as strongly in the limelight as Gorgon City. The London-based house duo has graced the dance floors and airwaves with a distinct club sound that congregates an array of influences stretching from grime to garage. With the debut album release of Sirens, we are confident in saying the team of Kye Gibbon and Matt Robson-Scott haven't just carved out their own niche in the music industry; they're cruising on their own freeway to becoming dance music icons.
When we first wanted to get inside the heads of Gorgon City earlier this year during Austin's SXSW, Matt and Kye told us they wanted their album to feel different; to be "timeless." This bold and exciting statement stuck with us. So when they came through Los Angeles on Saturday night for the climactic last stop of their North American Sirens Tour, we had to get another conversation in. As we enjoyed the thumping bass from opener My Nu Leng hammer through the El Rey green room, Kye put his laptop to the side and talked Gorgon City with us.
EARMILK: When we spoke in Austin at SXSW, you mentioned to me that above all, you wanted this album to be timeless. Do you think you achieved that?
Kye: I think so. We didn't want the album to be just club bangers. That's what we had been doing before we started Gorgon City. And even our first Gorgon City tracks were just club bangers. We didn't want the album to be just that, because club tracks go out of date so quickly. We did want to use our production techniques to make actual songs so that it means something, and I think we've done that. We have a wide range of songs on there from up beat tracks to positive tracks, and then we have the sad tracks, and I think it's quite a well-rounded album.
And Sirens is truly well-rounded. Following the club-destined and Billboard chart banger of "Ready For Your Love" are two euphoric house love songs titled "Lover Like You" and "Here For You," featuring Katy B and Laura Welsh respectively. The vocals are ravishing and uplifting, and Gorgon City fuses them with house beats that send the dance floor into a frenzy (which they did about an hour after the interview). One track later, Matt and Kye try their hand at a jazzy R&B record with "FTPA" with Erik Hassle, and the results will have you wanting to test drive this sexy song with your significant other ASAP.
As we hit the middle of the album with "Go All Night," the renowned Jennifer Hudson's vocals ring out through the speakers, and the magic of this co-written track with Kiesza leaves us with no doubt that Gorgon City will be seeing plenty of chart success in the very near future. But perhaps more impressive is the aptly named "Unmissable." Featuring the vocalist Zak Abel, "Unmissable" is everything someone would want in an anthem. With beautiful sing-along lyrics, a beat that evokes utter bliss, and the feeling that you're conquering nostalgia as the chorus rings out, good luck not making this one your most played track of the album.
EM: Other than Jennifer Hudson on "Go All Night," a number of the collaborations on Sirens are with relatively unknown artists, such as Zak Abel and Katy Menditta. Describe the creative process you went through to decide on these artists, and do you foresee potential solo careers for these guys?
K: One of the main things we look for when we work with people are voices that you normally wouldn't hear on a dance record. Like Laura Welsh, even Maverick Sabre, they've never worked on a dance record before, and I think we got an interesting result that way. That's definitely something we try and do, and I think we will continue to push those boundaries on the second album. We never necessarily go for the biggest names or anything when we choose who to collaborate with, it's just feeling their vibes. A lot of the time it just comes from being out on the scene with people, like being out in parties in London. When we worked with Jess Glynne, we knew her through partying in London and Ibiza. Same with MNEK. So it's good like that; there's a kind of family vibe in London and everyone is helping each other out.
As the album cruises through their unforgettable 2013 release of "Real" and the catchy call to action of "Imagination" with Katy Menditta, "6AM" undoubtedly takes the title of the clubbiest track on the album, and will be a relatable anthem for the late night partiers among us.
EM: If you put the album on shuffle, what two songs would you hope come on first?
K: It depends on what kind of mood I'm in. I'm quite proud of "6AM," because that represents the more clubbier, dirtier vibe of the album. And maybe "Hard On Me" just because that's so different for us; we were experimenting with it. That track is so heartfelt and honest. We wanted the production to be stripped back in order to frame that.
The last leg of Sirens finishes in big and elegant fashion with tracks like "Elevate" and "Take It All," both featuring the signature bass lines of Gorgon City that we have all come to know, love, and recognize as the addicting product of the London duo. And as the album closes out with "Hard On Me" (unless you indulge in more Gorgon City goods with the Deluxe version), we find there is a magic that surrounds Sirens that separates it from the pack. Matt and Kye, while honing an honest and humble aura, are pushing boundaries in the music of our generation, and as you will read below, will continue to defy the status quo in their live performances as well.
Enjoy the rest of the interview below, and don't skip out on one of dance music's top albums of 2014. Be sure to grab Sirens via iTunes, as the slow-burning record will likely be one of your go-to's for a long time coming.
It was worth the wait, Gorgon City, and we can't wait for what's next in your sprouting legacy.
EM: The sound of Gorgon City is now very recognizable in dance music, and a lot of that recognition comes from your distinct grimy bass lines. Are the bass lines the secret to Gorgon City's music seeing the rapid success it has, or are there other key ingredients that play a part?
K: I suppose it's just all the amount of influences that we have had growing up. We grew up listening to all the underground UK music, stuff like jungle, drum & bass, garage, grime, that's just the stuff we grew up on listening to as teenagers. So even though we make house music we want to represent that UK bass sound, when a lot of house traditionally is about the kick drum. We love bass lines.
EM: This is your last stop in the USA for the Sirens tour. Was there any extra magic to this run compared to the last?
K: Yeah, definitely. Well, halfway through the tour we had to fly back to the UK for 2 days, because we had to perform at an awards ceremony in the UK. And on the way back we DJ'd on the plane, which was the first ever gig to be broadcast from a plane, so that was pretty crazy to be a part of. But it's been really special out here. It's our first headline tour. We've come out here before touring with festivals and just doing a club circuit. But it feels like this is our kind of moment with the album release. And just last night playing in San Francisco was one of my favorite gigs I've ever done. That was sold out, and tonight is sold out here in LA, and that's pretty crazy.
EM: How do you see your live show's production expanding in the future?
K: As soon as we get back to the UK, we're actually starting a live tour. Rather than a live set, we actually have a live band. We've got a drummer, a vocalist, and playing everything live. So that's the next step for us. Not many people are doing that with house music, so we want to experiment with it. So the live show is going to be pretty cool. It's not going to be just playing back the tracks, we wanted to kind of improvise and jam out to the songs and make it different than what's on the record. And we'll be bringing that out to America as well next year.
EM: What are you most happy about today?
K: It's amazing that this is the final show of the American tour. And it's in LA, which I think is my favorite place to play in America. And it's sold out. It's crazy!