Modcast #183: HTRK

HTRK's conscious creeper 'Psychic 9-5 Club' has been spinning perpetually at Modular HQ, emitting its panning dub sonics and numbing vocal purrs. If you're yet to experience it, pull over the warm blanket of singles 'Give It Up' and 'Blue Sunshine' and surrender to the rest.

Ahead of the Melbourne-Sydney duo's Modulations show with Liars on Friday 6 June (tickets still available here), we chat to Jonnine Standish and Nigel Yang about interactions with psychics, straying in New Mexico and their ambitious range of merchandise. Cue the amazing playlist of mourning house and termite infested techno.

A large chunk of 'Psychic 9-5 Club' was recorded in New Mexico with Excepter's Nathan Corbin. Did you get to explore the town and its surroundings outside of studio time?

Nigel: New Mexico is an amazing place. Our studio/pad was in Santa Fe in this green little valley but you're pretty much surrounded by high altitude desert and canyons and great big sky. We spent a few days driving around, swimming in man-made lakes and going on some walks. We drove up to a mountain town called Taos to see the annual pow wow, a huge gathering of Indian Nations. One night was spent in an earthship made of tyres. We were having such a good time that Jonn forgot to stay hydrated and got altitude sickness. Doctor's orders were to "descend immediately" to the much lower altitude of Albuquerque, so we spent a night in an Albuquerque motel getting oxygenated. After that we started recording.

Early reports of the album rumoured a cameo from Cosey Fanni Tutti of Throbbing Gristle and Chris & Cosey. Despite this never materialising, what resonating impact has she had on HTRK?

Jonn: Yes the Cosey track has a different flow to how the album tracks panned out so we'll release it separately...Cosey is a symbol of liberation for us.

What are some of the obstacles you encounter reproducing the album works live?

N: No obstacles as such, quite the opposite because the songs are so minimal. We have a sampler and a synth running into a mixing desk that we have on stage and as part of the live show we 'play' the desk, like a typical dub setup where the focus is treating the beats with reverb and echoes.

I want to believe in the presence of psychics in this world but there are a lot of frauds out there, including my auntie who operates as a clairvoyant. Have you had any experiences with psychics that were too strong to question?

J: Yes I've had several strong experiences with psychics that approached me out of nowhere. One was in the haberdashery department of Myer. I've got a large entourage on the other side and psychics seem to have a field day with me. I'm avoiding them if possible.

You spent 2006-2012 living in Berlin and London. Upon returning to Melbourne, did you notice much had changed in your absence?

N: I noticed some nice colour therapy on the Eastlink. A gigantic disused ferris wheel. More African faces in Fitzroy. Yarnbombing.

J: The dance music scene has come alive again. Limes are worth their weight in gold.

I was admiring your merch stand the other week - an 18k gold plated chain and charm mounted on a printed postcard and the Japanese cotton t-shirts made in collaboration with Melbourne label Pageant. Class. Are the aesthetics of these items as important as the music itself?

N: Almost. We like to make things that feel really good to wear. The quality is really important and where it's made is important too. Most of the things we make are limited edition and part of a series.

J: Our next album might be called 'Music To Make Merch To'.

Have you seen any films or read any literature recently that you'd care to recommend?

N: We just saw Jonathan Glazer's 'Under the Skin' together the other day and loved it. We were ready for the world to look different upon leaving the cinema and it really did.


Mr Fingers - Closer (Deepdown basement mix)
Joey Anderson - Mind Set
Gang Starr - Game Plan
The Other People Place - Sorrow and a Cup of Joe (live)
Mystic Tribe A.I. - Telepathic Seduction (live)
Analogous Doom - Lost Together
Cloudface - ? (live)
Ross 154 - Moon FM Desire

June 5, 2014 at 4:32pm in modcast



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