14 September, 2017

[INTERVIEW] With... Husky Loops

Husky Loops - L-R Tommaso Medica (Bass), Pier 'Danio' Forni (Vocals & Guitar), Pietro Garrone (Drums)
The Italian three-piece Husky Loops are by no means an easily categorized band but one that has a distinctive and broad sound that sets them apart from most new bands. It's All Indie ventured into Bethnal Green, London to meet Husky Loops.

Hello Husky Loops. How are you guys feeling about playing Club Sabbath tonight? Should be fun.

Danio: Yeah should be awesome.

Pietro: Really good yeah.

Tommaso: It’s their first night they’re doing right…

Pietro: In London yeah

Tommaso: Yeah London and Sebright arms is a good venue where we’ve played many times. So it sounds really good.

(At this point, Danio half-jokingly “shhhs” the extremely loud people behind us.)

It’s put on by Baby Strange right? Are you guys friends with the band, or did they just like your music and ask you to play?

Tommaso: No, we don’t know them.

Pietro: They just asked us to play, you know. But we’re really glad to be here.

That’s cool, shows they actually liked your material and wanted to get you on board.

Danio: I hope so! Haha

Your material so far is infectious. Tempo, The Man, Fighting Myself are all so good. Each one has a different feel to it as well. What’s the song writing process like? Do the lyrics come first or do you work on the music first?

Danio: Erm, it depends. Some songs are just born as just songs, and then I bring them in the room (Practice room with the band) and then we’ll arrange them. But some of our songs start by jamming together.  Tempo was actually a bit of an idea first. 'The Man' was a song already. It’s different all the time. It’s never really the same which is kinda cool. Each song we have made so far has been made differently.

Pietro: We’re really developing our own mythology of doing it. We find something interesting; it might be a lyric, a beat or a jam we just made. From there, we get a feeling for it and see a story and try to expand it and get the missing elements from it. Sometimes we start from one; sometimes we start from the other. It really depends on how much time you can put into the band.

Pietro: There are times where we jam shit loads and it starts there. Then sometimes Danio is in his room and it starts there.

Tommaso: Jamming is a big part of what we do. I think in general other than the songs, we spend a lot of time in the practice room, just playing and finding guitar hooks and stuff.

Danio: We try out lots of stuff then come up with loads of material.

For sure, It’s the process of elimination I guess, you come up with a certain amount of ideas, then pick the best ideas and leave out the others.

Pietro: We are really precious with the material.

Danio: Yeah, we are really picky.

Pietro: It takes us a long time to be like 'ok, we are really happy with this track now, let’s put it out’.

Tommaso: I think it’s also great to go back and pick up jams that we left and were recorded on our phones a long time before. We then take them back into the room and reuse it with new ideas. So we did that for one of the new songs off the upcoming EP.

Danio: Yeah it’s a song called ‘Secret Matilda’. That was made a few years ago.

Tommaso: It took 2 years.

Pietro: it took ages to find the right sample to put on the track.

Danio: I think there are lots of bands that play songs. They just write songs, arrange them quickly and put them out as soon as possible. For us, it’s not like that at all.

It’s quite a lengthy process then
.
Danio: Yeah we try out loads of stuff, it’s painful but then we get to a point where we are happy with it.

Your upcoming ep ‘EP 2’ is out soon. I heard its main track ‘Girl Who wants to travel the world’. Is this the sort of direction you’re going for when you eventually record a debut album?

Danio: It’s out the 6th of October. But yeah, that’s a hard question because as we do different things each time and every song is kind of different. I think the direction for now is that we are a live band. So we play together in the room and want people to understand that. 

Danio: So, I think the album will be like that. Hopefully it will be like people playing in a room together, making sounds together and arrangements made by three people. You know, it won’t be crazy electronic, six people programmed stuff. We try to keep it minimal.

Pietro: These days, you can do so much from a computer. So many bands just put shit loads of backing tracks on and it makes them sound like an orchestra but it’s really just three people on stage. We try to keep it as three people and add extra sounds with our own instruments whilst performing.

Danio: Its funny, a lot of people think, I guess because that they can’t see what we do on stage, a lot of people think we use backing tracks. But we really don’t. Everything on this EP is triggered by Pietro and he samples me live, so every night we perform it’s different. That’s what we try to do.

It’s definitely more interesting when a band does everything live.


Danio: Totally. That’s what we try to do. I produced both of our records, for me it’s very important to capture the moment. More than just a tight performance you know, I think it’s important to capture what’s happening in that moment in time.

My friend Charlie actually introduced me to you guys. Your sound is so interesting, it’s quite hard to pin Husky Loops down to a certain genre. If someone has never heard of you before, how would you describe your sound?

Pietro: When we met Skepta, we had a really nice conversation with him because it’s a struggle on how to define your genre to others.

Danio: Mainly today…

Pietro: I think it’s just a question we leave to others, as in; I don’t want to define us. What you feel is possibly the answer and that’s it.

Tommaso: Probably the hardest thing is to describe it and define it. We have a really broad taste in music. We’re all into different things and we try different things as well. Our sound is very broad. We go to the extreme. ‘Girl Who Wants To Travel The World’ is an extreme.

Pietro: Then ‘Re-collect’ off the upcoming ‘EP2’ is the total extreme opposite of Girl.

Tommaso: Those two songs particularly represent the two different extreme faces of this band.

Sure. What do you guys make of the UK? As you’re originally from Italy. Was it easy to break into the English music scene?

Danio: No! I mean the UK is great, there is a lot of space for different bands but at the same time people tend to pigeon-hole everything (label bands into a restrictive category). So for us of course it’s not easy. As everything we do is different and we don’t really play one specific genre. So sometimes the stuff we would like to do or jam with or sounds we want to experiment with; it’s quite hard to do that freely in the market. It is so hard to sell stuff that is different.

Yes, I can imagine.

Danio: If you listen to the radio everything is kind of the same, isn’t it?

That’s true, certainly with the pop music charts anyway.

Pietro: On one side, the landscape is really exciting; the UK has loads of contemporary artists. On the other side, it feels like we came to London at the worst moment of all haha. Because what we see around us is a really expensive place to live in and it’s really hard to be noticed. Especially in London as there is so much competition. But now it’s crazy with the amount of venues that don’t support low-level starting bands and exploit the really low-level starting out bands. They don’t give them any sort of window of opportunity. Things like ‘pay for play’ gigs are a shame.

Yeah! It can be terrible, I have friends who play in a band and they have had to do a few gigs where they have to bring as many people as possible with them to even get a worthy amount of pay. It’s ridiculous.

Pietro: It’s a fucking shame.

For example, I guess, on BBC they do that BBC Introducing – which is normally only for the best pop-ish sounding music or any bands that actually have a financial and record label backing. Sometimes they can actually champion a new and exciting talent, but sometimes there are strings attached.

Pietro: Yeah!

I mean, don’t get me wrong BBC can come through with exciting new talent. I believe you guys were actually championed by Huw Stephens on his show right?

Tommaso: Yeah. I think it was very surprising to hear that one of our songs got played. ‘Tempo’ got played a few times by MistaJam on BBC Radio One. On a very hip-hop orientated programme. So that’s a very good sign towards we are making something different.

Danio: We have never been played once on BBC Six.

Tommaso: Yeah, that’s the weird thing.

Danio: But I guess it’s funny at the same time and makes sense at the same time as it’s so hard to pigeon-hole what we do, BBC One is broader, where BBC Six is mainly for bands. So, it’s kind of funny.

Pietro: BBC Six is more like, alternative stuff rather than mainstream so…

Danio: It’s funny because we do this thing which everyone thinks is really weird and we ended up getting lots of plays on BBC Radio One instead. It’s crazy but great.

You’re not doing too bad so far anyway.

Danio: Yeah it’s great. I think the scene today is really negative and we’re really positive with it. I personally believe that some people will get it, as in you do something that you really care about and you put a lot of passion into it and it is good; people will understand that.

We must talk about your upcoming support slot for Placebo, that is pretty cool. I mean you’ve already supported The Kills and done a few UK festival dates so far. But are you nervous at all?

Danio: No. I think I would be nervous if I wasn’t lying haha.

Pietro: We feel really honoured.

Tommaso: It’s Exciting.

Pietro: They have had a long career so far and have done a lot of really amazing things. They picked us up without having any personal connections at all. It’s only been based on the music…

Tommaso: and that’s a good sign in today’s industry.

Pietro: We’ll be playing in venues with six-thousand people, It’s an amazing opportunity. The route of the tour is interesting. For example, we’re playing Swindon… and in arenas...

Tommaso: Yeah actually, we’re playing in quite smaller venues than usual because they’re playing more shows around seaside locations. So, like in historic theaters, that will be very interesting.

Danio: Yeah, I think that will be really cool.

Tommaso: It’s kind of similar to some of the shows we played with The Kills in Copenhagen.

Yeah it should be a great opportunity with Placebo to play in some venues that you haven’t had the chance to perform in yet.

What do you all do in your spare time?

Pietro: I came to London to study graphic design and that is still a good part of my time. I do graphic design for the band as well and as a freelancer. Now my main project is the band; both as a drummer and our director. I’ve been working on all our music videos and all the visuals of the band as the director.

Tommaso: I graduated with a music business degree last year.

Congratulations!

Tommaso: Thank you. I teach bass. I used to teach often but now a bit less, I try to keep some students. That’s about it. The rest of the time is for the band.

Danio: I just care about music. I make a lot of beats, I’m really into hip-hop. I try to collaborate and jam with my friends. I play a lot with my friends in a band called ‘Count Counsellor’, which is a great band.  I don’t know if you’ve heard of them.

 I’ll have to check them out.

Danio: yeah! They’re a really good project.



Your tracks are very bass and drums orientated… was this always the plan from the start?

Tommaso: I think it’s part of  Danio’s production…

Danio: Yeah, when we said earlier, the sound is kind of minimal, I think it’s heavily bass and drums orientated. This keeps it ‘human’ but still sounds big. It’s just the three of us, rather than adding another member, the bass and drums fill a lot of space. Plus, we are really into groovy music, electronic music and Hip-hop, so I think it also comes from those influences.

Tommaso: It also comes from the fact that me and Pietro used to jam and still jam a lot together. So, we created a really good connection.

Danio: Yeah, I think it’s sick, if you break down the music, it is hard to define the genre but it’s quite simple. It’s just drums, bass, and guitar. The bass and drums provide the arrangement and right structure of it and the vocals, guitar and melodies are just on top. It’s not that complicated for us, you know.

Excellent, you were saying you do all the producing Danio, which is interesting. When I first listened to your tracks, one of the first things I picked up was the how great the production of the material is. It’s good.

How do you start the process of producing the tracks? I guess every producer brings their own little twist or ideas to the band, but did you always know you want Husky Loops to sound the way you do?

Danio: Thank you. Erm, Yes and no.  For a producer, it’s important to not make your own record and that’s part the reason why this band also became drums and bass. Because I was trying to produce them and make them happy as well as me. But for me it’s always kind of inevitable to make my own record because I’m in the band, you know what I mean. So, a lot of the production ideas start with the music and writing. Most of the time I write a song, melody or I have an idea for an arrangement; the production starts from there.

Danio: I don’t really play with them and then separate myself from the band to then produce them. I’m already producing from day one which is why the songs have so many details and sounds. When we play something, for me it’s kind of inevitable to go ‘ok now we use that pedal or we need to have that drum sound’. Pietro and Tommaso have a very broad taste and big personalities anyway. So, they bring out their ideas and they mix with mine. So, then I act as a producer externally. So ‘if you want that, then we need to make that happen…’

I suppose It can work if you compromise…

Danio: It’s always a long process but it’s kind of an old-school type of producing where the producer will walk in with a band and help arrange the playing and dynamics. Today, I think it’s a very broad term because a lot of producers walk around with laptops and just make electronic music and they’re called producers but they kind of make everything on a laptop.

Yeah! You can basically just use a laptop to make anything these days.

Danio: I would say they are arrangers more than producers. A good Producer needs to tell the musicians what to do, which is what I try to do, so you can get the best out of them that way.  In today’s industry, it is harder. You don’t have much time. So, you can’t spend a week figuring out what the best mood for the drummer is to play in.

Pietro: There is quite a big difference, for example production and engineering, in the way we work in this band. Danio has developed a few working relationships lately. Mostly with a guy called Enrico Berto who has a studio where everything on our record was recorded in Italy, called Mushroom Studio. This is where the two roles become clear, Danio has been producing the songs from the start.

Pietro: And the song writing and production process is so entangled that he is the person with the vision that communicates to the engineer on how to achieve the sound. Of course, if given Danio had training in music school; then he has that language and he knows what are the specific tools we need to use. But most producers now are producers/engineers so you go to a studio and normally get produced by the engineer.   

Do you have any major influences for the band production wise at all?

Danio: Production wise, Lots. A interesting point is, actually I don’t know if it’s interesting but it’s geeky haha… I personally think that I have more influences as a producer rather than an artist. Because I try to develop my own style like everyone else. This is a really stupid thing to say, but I don’t think ‘ oh I really like this song, I want to do something like that’.

Danio: It’s more like I’ll listen to a record and really like the sound of it, the arrangements or the ideas in it and I’ll try to replicate that with us. Which is why we’re saying if it’s very bass and drum orientated that’s because I’ve been listening to Hip-hop for years now. And for me that just comes very natural. D’Angelo is a massive influence for me. I don’t know if you know him. He’s a R&B singer-songwriter and producer.

Tommaso: He’s a legend.

Danio: He did a cool album called ‘Voodoo’ which is amazing because it’s very beat heavy but also one that is one of the most soulful things you’ll ever hear in your life. It’s also very minimal. You should listen to it. It’s incredible! That’s another thing for me with production, you should kind of just go with the flow. Follow what the music tells you to do and in that way, it makes it easier if you have a vision.

Danio: That’s what a good producer does, if you listen to ‘Tempo’ and you go in the room and put your head in it, you will hear that the drums are very powerful and groovy. So, wouldn’t you rather have the sound up in your face rather than the back of the room. That’s what it comes down to. You just follow what the guys do.

What’s next for Husky Loops?

Pietro: Touring!

Tommaso: Yeah, we’re touring for the next three months basically.

Danio: Writing, writing a lot.

All sounds excellent, looking forward to the new EP ‘EP2’.
Danio: Yes! Comes out 6th of October.

Thanks for your time Husky Loops.

Husky Loops: Thanks Cameron.