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New Music Friday: Fugues

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Northampton/London electronic duo Fugues have just dropped their Merge EP. New Boots gets the lowdown

How did you get together?
Fugues started as Shannon and Chris O’ Conner with a piano and voice around mid-2016. We always knew we were electronic focused, having similar interests such as Massive Attack, Hope Sandoval, Unkle, Coco Rosie, Moderat, etc. But it really developed in to what it is today when Jo Burns-Russell joined as co-producer, and we explored more techno and bass music to go with our songs. Since then Fugues has moved forward as a duo with Shannon and Jo. You can still hear Chris’s piano on the EP, but the end result has been more electronically focused. Musically we’re a blend of electronica, heavy basslines with Shannon’s ethereal vocals, and Chris’s classically influenced piano.

How would you describe your sound? The term “trip-hop” seems to be inadequate and do it a disservice.
It’s quite difficult to pin what we are doing into a genre really, which I think happens with electronic music, particularly when it’s not club-focused. There are elements of trip hop, house, glitch, techno…just interesting music. Shannon’s vocals are very poetic and meaningful, which is juxtaposed with the more electronic edge. Generally we’d say just give it a listen and see what you think!

How do you divvy up the work: do you both come up with musical and lyrical ideas?
It’s very much a joint effort. Our vocals were all recorded in a bedroom studio in Clapton, at Tobias Lawrence’s house. The piano at Chris’s home studio in Kimbolton. The other elements were created by Jo at her home in Duston, then it got married together.

Tell us about the EP.
‘Low Bass Lives’ was something Shannon came up with at a music festival and upon her move to Northampton. ‘No longer’ was written by Shannon and Jo in one night that just clicked, then Jo continued to develop it from there. ‘Smokey Red’ was another that was done in Kimbolton with piano and voice, drum and bass samples then developed by Jo over the coming months.

You’ve just started being a live band. How’s that going? Does being an electronic duo bring its own challenges?
Its definitely interesting trying to translate what is 90% computer-generated into a live show. We use Ableton with a series of controllers, Shannon plays synth and has a vocal FX unit, but luckily her vocal performance carries it. We’re investing in more synths and a drum machine soon to try and make the live experience as dynamic as we can. We’re also quite theatrical and want to bring lighting shows and projection mapping over the coming months. We want it to be an experience!

What has been your favourite Fugues moments so far?
We’re really pleased with how the final EP is sounding, at the last stages we bought in an engineer to help with the final mix down, Chris Pettifer [who is a Northants resident also]. He’s really bought what we have done to life. We played our first festival last weekend which was an incredible experience, and something we really want to do more of.

What is your burning desire to do in the future?
I think continuing to develop the show to make it an experience-led thing, with music, lights, projections etc. We are also really keen to keep the momentum going on our releases and hope to have more tracks ready by the autumn.

Merge is out now via Bandcamp. Fugues play the Wonderland Garden Party festival in September in south London

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