Jared Simms and Voytek Korab have built up an assured discography as My Favorite Robot, while at the same time gigging around the world and A&Ring like-minded synth craftsmen to release on their revered eponymous imprint. Their own sound is mature and musical, and brings real emotion to their sleek dance floor grooves. Their new EP, Want Some, was released on 14 April through My Favorite Robot Records. We chatted to them about their songwriting process, their influences and their new outlook on percussions.
To those not familiar with you, how would you describe your sound?
Our sound is somewhere between indie- electronic and dare we say techno? Hard to say but our influences are many and diverse.
What are the 5 albums that have influenced you the most?
Radiohead – Ok Computer
Massive Attack – Mezzanine
Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures
Pixies – Surfer Rosa
Ride – Going Blank Again
Which other artists are you into at the moment and why?
Really digging Future Islands these days. So much power in their performances and some great songwriting. As far as more electronic acts we are fully into the music from our MFR family like Fairmont, Jori Hulkkonen, Rodion and Sid le Rock amongst some. Been also listening to a shitload of old Anthony Rother stuff. Feeling that proper electro vibe these days more and more and wish people made more of it today.
What was the inspiration behind starting your own music label back in 2008? How has the experience measured up to the original ‘vision’?
We weren’t planning on starting a label back then but it all came down to Jared moving from Montreal to Toronto and meeting the No.19 guys. Nitin and Jonny White were the ones who suggested that with the style of music we were doing, starting our own label would be the best avenue to get our sound out into the world. We definitely have to thank those guys for the suggestion and for believing that it would all catch on as looking back now, it’s amazing to see how thanks to all that, the label’s become a home for so many cutting edge artists. Our vision remains the same from day one: Ignore the trends and support the music that we feel is different and needs to be heard.
Are there any key pieces of equipment that you are using to define your sound?
Our signature has always been the melancholy vocals on most of our music but these days we’re kinda going back to less vocally stuff and keeping our music simple and raw. Experimenting with lots of modular synths these days for drums is kinda fun and giving us a new outlook on percussions.
What would you say some of the challenges artists face today in the music industry?
The biggest challenge is originality I think. In the electronic scene there’s just so many people making music now that everything has just become over saturated and almost sounding similar in many instances. Hard to believe that with so much technology out there, people are using it to sound like each other. Makes it hard for new artists to break through but then again it can be a good thing that many people can now express themselves so easily as the competition is tough and with tons of crap seeing the light of day, there’s also a lot more amazing music out there to find.
Where do you gather songwriting inspiration?
Inspiration comes from different places and at strange times. The best ideas usually appear when i’m trying to fall asleep but I feel like I had 3 cups of coffee cause my mind is racing with melodies and lyrics. Then there’s no choice but to get out of bed and lay those ideas down so they don’t disappear by morning. Those ones usually end up being the strongest songs when finished.
Take us through your songwriting process. Are there any particular steps you take when putting your music together?
We live in different cities so our process is a bit of a back and forth thing. Voytek frequently writes the song ideas in his home studio in Montreal and sends the sessions to Jared who then takes them to the studio in Toronto for more development and it goes back and forth a few more times before we call it done. There are still some proper jam sessions when we get together and work on something in the same studio but mostly it’s a tale of two cities.
Do genre labels such as ‘IDM’, ‘braindance’ etc, mean anything to you in terms of your writing process, or in terms of the way you decide on which releases to put out on your label? Or are they just convenient ways to talk about music, after the fact?
We really don’t focus on those terms. We listen to every demo or piece of music with open minds. The whole genre thing is kind of dumb really. People spend too much time debating what is what instead of just listening to the music. If it sucks, it doesn’t matter what genre it is, it still sucks. On the writing tip, we just write what comes out of us. It’s a mistake to try to write music that follows the sound of the moment if it isn’t your style to begin with. It never comes out right and reeks of desperation and conformity. The scene being saturated with stuff that mostly all sounds the same these days is a perfect example of that. We really try to ignore that and just do what feels right to us.
You’ve said before in an interview that you “like to go for the stuff that has a little more substance to it”… Can you try and explain what you mean by “substance”, or is it a case of “you know it when you hear it?”
It’s a bit of “you know it when you hear it” for sure. What we mean by substance is that there’s some real songwriting talent behind it. When it’s there it’s easy to identify as there’s a real feeling behind the piece even if it’s not obvious. The music just stands out right away and most people who’ve been in the music scene for a long time will understand what we mean. There’s an emotion to those good ones even if it’s on a minimal tip. You still feel the idea and feeling behind it. That’s what’s missing in a lot of the music these days but the real ones are still making the good stuff.
What’s the best gig you have ever done and why?
There are of course many but the one that stands out is our label showcase at the BPM festival in 2012. It was right when our track Forest Fires came out and made some waves so our party at Canibal Royal was just insane and kind of put us on the map at that point. It was right after that showcase that we got requests for shows and started touring so you can say it’s kind of what started it all for us.
And the worst?
Won’t name the place but it was during our tour for our Atomic Age album as a live act. We had live instruments and live vocals which don’t always translate well to clubs and the sound person, despite a 1.5hr soundcheck, completely fucked up our levels so when we got on we couldn’t hear ourselves through the monitors and basically had to persevere for an hour and a half and survive what was at best a test of the limits of stress and trying not to cry.
If you had to choose between never playing live again, or never being able to release music again… Which would you go for, and why?
That’s an impossible pick. To us, both playing live and releasing music are completely attached as there’s no better feeling than seeing the reaction of a crowd to a new track and touring a release is a big part of releasing music to begin with. The two go hand in hand. I guess if we really had to pick we would continue releasing music as there’s no way we could ever stop making music. It would be sad though to release tunes and not get to play them. That would be quite the torture.
If you weren’t a musician what would you be?
I think we would be those two old guys on the balcony in the Muppet Show.
If you could perform alongside any other band or artist, living or dead, who would it be?
As a live act and if one can dream it would be Radiohead, Massive Attack, Sonic Youth, Happy Mondays…. oh man the list could go on and on.
Do you have any particular gigs or festivals that you dream about playing?
I think the one place we really want to go and still haven’t is Asia. There’s been so much in the works that for whatever reason didn’t work out so hopefully in 2017 we’ll be able to hop over there and experience it all while spreading the robot sound.
Do you have any information regarding upcoming releases, projects or gigs in the pipeline that you would like to tell us about?
Our new EP “Want Some” is about to be released (14 April) on My Favorite Robot Records. The label also has more great stuff coming soon from the likes of Rodion and Local Suicide, Rework, Nuno Dos Santos & Falco Benz and Aiden Lavelle with Timo Maas.
As always, you can check our FB page for wicked podcasts from these and other artists as part of our Crossing Wires Podcast Series and for all info regarding shows and releases.
Listen to “Want Some” from My Favorite Robot’s new EP: