TOY Interview & Photos (Live at Control)
TOY is a British band formed in Brighton back in 2010. It’s the kind of band difficult to label, their sound often being described as a combination of psychedelic rock, krautrock, shoegaze and post-punk. Shortly after their debut album, TOY supported The Vaccines on their UK Tour in 2013, which included a show at the 20k capacity O2 Arena in London, The Vaccines’ biggest show to date.
We relished their transcending performance at Control Club (@clubcontrol) and got the chance to ask them a few questions. In the following interview, Maxim “Panda” Barron talks about analog photography, Bat for Lashes, white witches and where they usually hang out (we also found out that he likes dancing).
Two years back, we read about your Sexwitch project with Natasha Khan of Bat for Lashes. You recorded each song in one take and the album was the product of a one day long session. That sounds fascinating and made us think about the importance of the creative process. How much did such a short recording time influence the album’s sound?
I think it made sure that what we did was spontaneous and in the moment. We often find that the thing you do before you’ve really got to grips with what’s going on is the best. A lot of our own music has been done in first takes as well. It has a certain pent up slightly off kilter energy which is difficult to recreate if you done something 20 times.
How was your experience of recording an album with Natasha Khan?
She’s very nice. We actually recorded all the music first then forgot about it. She came in later and put vocals on it.
How does it feel to work with an artist that has a different style than yours? What are the most exciting and challenging parts of doing so?
I guess playing in a style you normally wouldn’t is refreshing. We learnt a lot from doing those songs like time signatures that you don’t hear in the western world so trying to figure out things like that was challenging but fun.
Who would you like to collaborate with in the future?
Just by listening to a few songs we immediately get the feeling that TOY likes to toy with different genres. How far would you go experimenting musically?
All the way. There’s no limit, it’s what we enjoy doing most.
Talking about your influences, you once stated that you are into ”strange films and pagan rituals”. Have you ever experienced anything that might be called ”supernatural phenomena”?
Yes, in Sweden we met a white witch once. We were recording at the old EMI studio in Stockholm. This old lady with electric blue eyes suddenly wandered round the corner. She couldn’t speak English but a friend translated she was a witch and she’d felt our presence. We were pretty skeptical. She said she healed people and offered to just touch each of our hands. Someone we were with immediately broke into tears and when it came to me and she touched my hand I felt a really strong surge of energy shoot up my arm and into my chest. The more people she touched the better her English became. Then she just walked off and we never saw her again.
Where do you usually hang out? Do you have favorite record stores or hidden book stores you visit? Any special places you look for musical equipment?
There’s a record store in Clapton near our drummer Charlie’s house called Lion Coffee + Records. For equipment we mainly look online. There’s a pedal company called Death By Audio where we get some good stuff from. We have little home studios in our flats so we’re always looking for things. Max our keyboard player bought a tape machine on tour in Sofia which sounds really good.
What’s the band’s most beloved piece of equipment? Is there a song where this piece of equipment changed it completely?
I’m not sure about favorite but I’ve got into using sequencers. There’s maybe three tracks of the last album that feature then and more on the new record. The song Dream Orchestrator was derived with the sequence as the driving force which is something we’ve not done before.
Besides music, are any of the band’s members expressing themselves artistically in any other ways?
Max writes stories and we do other musical projects as well. Dom is good at drawing, Tom likes football, Charlie likes photography. I like to dance. 💃🏻
Is it difficult for you to maintain your aesthetic consistency in a world that is becoming more and more commercial?
It’s not something we really think or care about so I don’t know.
We are curious about your artwork. How do you choose who you’re working with and who are the artists?
We made the last album cover ourselves. We like to be quite hands on with artwork and videos as it’s part of what you do and can help people visualize what you are trying to say with the music sometimes. We pick people we like the work of and then talk about our influences and what we want to do for that record. Sometimes they really get it and it turns out great sometimes not. That’s why we did the last one ourselves.
Any thoughts on analog photography?
We love it. Max and Charlie had analog cameras on tour and took a lot of pictures. We’ve taken a Super 8 with us on tour before and made a video out of it. I think the unpredictability and excitement of having to wait to see how they’ve turned out is far more rewarding and exciting than just snapping a picture on your phone.
TOY (Tom Dougall, Dominic O’Dair, Maxim Barron, Charlie Salvidge, Max Oscarnold)
Photos by Bogdan Camenschi (@bogdancamenschi)