“…as soon as she got singing, it was a weird moment… The tears started to flow.” – With their new EP Fade 2 Forever imminent, an emotional Le Galaxie talk to Ian Maleney.
Having made something of a splash with their debut album, Laserdisc Nights 2, Dublin four-piece Le Galaxie have cemented their reputation as one of the city’s favourite live bands thanks to a string of high-octane performances on stages all over town, as well as explosive festival appearances around the country. Having returned to the studio earlier this year, they’ve now reappeared with a five-track EP called Fade 2 Forever and it finds the band diversifying their palate just a little. While the familiar disco thumpers are still very much present and correct, they’ve also included some (slightly) more emotional, slower numbers,with the guest vocal performance from Elaine Mai on ‘Love System’ a particular highlight.
They launch the EP on pure white 12” this Saturday in The Button Factory with support from an all-star cast of Ships, Sleep Thieves, Nanu Nanu and Adultrock. More details over on the Facebook event and a stream of the EP is available on Nialler9.
So tell me about the new release. Why did you decide to make an EP?
Dave: The time we were working on the album, we already kind of had new ideas coming through for new songs. It was coming to a year of the album being around and we kind of really wanted to get another record out because we want to keep moving forward. We had worked on a collection of songs and were really eager to get them out there.
Michael: We really wanted to do a vinyl too because it felt like our album should have been on vinyl really, it would have looked nice and sounded nice but we couldn’t afford it. But we got Delphi to release this one for us so that’s been a good partnership.
I know your first album took a long time to complete, were these new songs similarly difficult to finish?
D: We had a bunch of songs that were basically ready to go and coincidentally were much easier to put together so it all came together real fast.
M: They were better designed. I know that sounds cynical but they were just better designed tunes, there was more space going on.
D: I suppose because we played so much live with the album, we got into the mindset of writing for stuff that we would be playing. Before, there might be more arpeggios in the background or more drum programming going on. We’ve really thinned that out.
M: It’s like, when in doubt, put in an arpeggiator!
So do you feel like the EP is quite different to what you’ve done before?
D: The songs are a bit different to the album, yeah, there’s slightly more softness to it. Even though it’s still quite dance-y, there’s a bit more heart to it.
M: There’s some dance-floor tearjerkers.
D: We brought in some female vocalists. We have a girl called Laura Smith singing on one track in a kind of disco-pumping frenzy. Then we’ve got Elaine Mai doing vocals on a track called Love System, which is just a very, very beautiful vocal.
M: I tried to sing it and I couldn’t, so we got her in. We were recording it in Stoneybatter and as soon as she got singing, it was a weird moment.
D: The tears started to flow.
You’ve also made things somewhat slower in places, which is kind of the default way to go about getting emotional weight into a song.
D: That’s somewhere new for us to go, where we’re letting the tempo slide a little bit. It’s still groovy and you can still dance to it.
M: It’s total naivete when you start out, you think faster means more energy but some times it’s completely not true. Take Not Squares‘ ‘Release The Bees‘, that’s so fast you forget that it’s not really the speed that gets me, it’s the tune. A lot of the songs on our album were very fast but I think now finding good rhythms in slow jams is just as important to us.
It often takes a lot of confidence to slow down the tempo, is that something you’ve found? Are you more sure of yourselves now than say, when the album came out?
M: I think we have more confidence in the audience too. People have a fucking attention span, I know they do. Sometimes we don’t, but that’s ok. I’d like to think that the couple of slow jams on the EP will be something that people really get.
Have you found much difference between the shows you started off playing, the upstairs in Whelan’s thing, and the bigger festival shows you’ve been doing lately?
M: To transition between that and say, Forbidden Fruit, the gig a few weeks ago, where there was like a thousand people there… It feels kind of the same.
D: I guess the thing is, we’ve played all sorts of crowds and all sorts of sizes of crowds, and I think no matter how the crowd is, we always approach it the same way. We just try to bring people into it.
M: Festivals are kind of like our meat and drink, they’re savage. It’s good. Personally, I don’t really like festivals, I prefer going to see a few bands indoors with a pint, that’s my thing, but there’s no doubt a lot of people love it and there’s no doubt we’re in our element, live speaking, there. I think we’ve found a balance. We don’t wait all year round for festival shows.
M: Some people have said to us “You lads must be off your heads are yiz, it must be great”, and I’d be like, “No, what the hell would give you that impression?”. Just because you’re enjoying it. I know I said we’d have a few drinks on stage but there’s no case for that. If it looks like we’re spazzing out, it’s because we’re genuinely having some elevated experience.
Obviously “electronic music” in Ireland is going through something of a prominent spell and there’s a lot of people making it, more so than when you started. Still though, you’re one of the only full electronic “bands” I can think of here. Is that something you’ve noticed?
M: Even our tent at Forbidden Fruit, we were the only band on all day but it was full of electronic music. There was Reid, Moths, Toby Kaar, someone else, but we were the only band. We deliberately would never be laptops and hoods, it’s just not our thing. I’m trying to say this diplomatically!
D: Electronic music has come on so much in Ireland in terms of popularity. Another interview we did, they were quoting us as kind of slating singer-songwriters, which was never the case. We had just noted that it was amazing to see that the stranglehold of the singer-songwriter was finally at an end and there were so many people doing things on a higher level than they had been before in terms of electronic music. There’s so many people producing amazing stuff out there now, so many 17-year old kids doing remixes of international acts. It’s just incredible how things have gone that way now.
M: We’re still dance music played by a live band and I know it sounds kind of stupid but I would see ourselves as somewhat separate to what’s going on at the moment. I mean, I love Toby Kaar, I love his particular energy. I kind of see him as being kind of a spiritual cousin of ours, but I would see ourselves as a bit separate from the current wave.
D: We would never be a band to get up on stage with a Tenori-On and a Kaoss Pad. I guess, coming from playing in bands and playing guitars, we kind of hold onto that as something we love doing live. As much as we like messing around with filters and pushing buttons, I think the heart of it for us will always be playing an instrument.
Finally, your music references a lot of 80s culture, from movies to songs and all that. Is that something you planned from the start, to have that somewhat nostalgic aesthetic?
D: It was something that very naturally emerged. We were called Le Galaxie because we had a song that we were calling Le Galaxie and I guess at the time we were using a lot of sci-fi quotes and stuff like that, but that was just a continuum or a passing stage, as I’m sure it is now. We’re already looking towards what the next album is going to be like.
M: Nostalgia is not exactly a bad word though. Is there such a thing as progressive nostalgia? We do know sometimes, when we’re working on synths or something, we know when something rings true and we look at each other and go, ‘That’s sweet, that reminds me of…!’. I think even our EP, it doesn’t sound like it’s from the past.
D: There are bands out there who try, laboriously, to reproduce to a tee the sound of a Debbie Gibson B-side from the 80s, with all its faults and all its shortcomings. I think everything we do is filtered through now. We don’t spend all our time listening to Georgio Moroder, we’re listening to everything that’s going on now too.
Fade 2 Forever is out this weekend on 10″ vinyl & download from Delphi. Le Galaxie play The Button Factory on Saturday night with Sleep Thieves, Nanu Nanu & Ships.