- chilled out music's best kept secret?
15th June 2005. Interviewed by Alistair Power.
Right - let me get this straight. Together since 2003, they are a collective of producers and artists who have worked with the best in the industry. Lemon Jelly are indebted to them for the influences they had on their classic track “In The Bath”; in previous lives, The Prodigy and Beastie Boys have sampled them and they have been in the kitbag of Madonna and Massive Attack's producer amongst others.
Lined up for Glastonbury and the Big Chill, partially from Oxfordshire......and I have never heard of them until now! Something which is about to change very soon by the sound of things...
Following extended radio play in America and the UK, the recording of a much anticipated EP, the sell out of a limited edition CD from their website, and over 5000 digital purchases by fans from their website (watch out itunes!), the Urban Myth Club are set to take the UK chill-out scene by storm this summer.
Having been privileged to preview tracks from their EP and forthcoming album, I can tell you that they have created a remarkable blend of chilled out electronic beats, tightly composed yet free-form and flowing.
"Spacewalk" has undertones of Lemon Jelly, but in a more structured multi-layered way. "I Feel It" has captivating vocals, melodic and soothing, and "Bird's eye view" has a catchy tune that is sure to chill even the hardest festival goer this summer. My personal favourite, "Schnorkel", has a tightly menacing drumbeat and edginess that could easily be the theme music for the coolest of bond villains.
Drawing comparisons from Royksopp to Air, the collective have also been hailed as the next “Zero 7” by DJ Trevor Shand of Clear FM who told listeners:
“Breathtaking stuff - they are poised to become the hottest down tempo act ever from the UK.”
Curious to find out more, I interviewed Mark Desvaux, electronica artist and one of the founding members of the Urban Myth Club...
AP (Alistair Power) : How many are there now in the Urban Myth Club - are you all Oxfordshire based? How did you meet?
MD (Mark Desvaux) : There are lots of us! As a live band we are currently a seven-piece outfit, including two female vocalists (Clare and Rowan). In the studio, there are even more, although not all at the same time - could you imagine the mess! To give you an idea, we've worked with five different vocalists around the world whilst putting together the new album, Helium. A lot of the writing happens in people's own studios and bits are sent over the Internet for other members to build on. It's a really interesting way of working creatively. We still get together in the studio to write stuff from scratch and mix tracks, so have the best of both worlds. We also a few other artists involved but we can't mention them for contractual reasons. Not all are Oxfordshire based - but several are.
AP : Where did the name of "Urban Myth Club" come from?
MD : I could tell you - but the secret would be too much for you to keep to yourself!
AP : With such a broad range of artists in your collective, do you all collaborate when making your music in the studio together? who writes the tunes?
MD : It's a total mixture. For this album alone we wrote about 250 tracks. If someone starts something which sparks someone else's imagination they will run with it. In one instance, I might write a hook for a track, whilst someone else adds some ambience or build on the drum track. There are no hard and fast rules, just complete musical bedlam!
AP : Many major artists, such as Lemon Jelly are influenced by members of your collective. What would you say are your major influences collectively?
MD : It's hard to pin down our influences collectively. What is really interesting is the really broad range of musical styles each person has - I guess that's one of the things we have in common. If you looked at people's record collections, it's a bit like we've all gone on a mad trolley run in HMV and grabbed stuff at random. It's what makes the collective such an interesting place to be. I've certainly be introduced to tonnes of new artists through influences of the other members.
AP : Do you plan on playing further gigs in Oxford once your festival schedule dies down?
MD : We very much hope so, but with the festival season in full swing it could be some time.
AP : What artists do you listen to yourself when you are chilling?
MD : I really enjoy Blue States, but then I'm probably a bit bias as they are part of the collective! There's a guy called Ulrich Schnauss from Germany who is still quite underground but his stuff is great. I'm certainly partial to a little Royksopp and Air. But then I'll chuck on Nirvana, Mozart, Mylo and Coldplay just to mix it up.
AP : There was a very big demand for your sampler albums sold via your website. Do you plan on pressing more of these, or will fans have to wait until your album is out? Any prospective dates?
MD : I heard that one of the Secret EP's was selling on e-Bay for upwards of £30 which is mad! Some of the stuff released was limited edition, so there won't be any more of those. The album is done, but won't be out on general release for a few months yet. Although for fans on the web site mailing list (www.urbanmythclub.com) there are rumours that a limited number of pre-release ones might be available. But I didn't tell you that!
AP : This is a very busy year for you, with your radio airplay and festival tours. Was this something you expected?
MD : We had an inkling it might, but didn't expect this mad domino effect... that's the beauty of music I guess. When DJ's started going nuts over the music, we were being told that we had something that was different and really making an impact. When you are deep in the studio, you might have a real buzz about what you are doing, but until it's out there, you never know for sure.
AP : What are your future plans?
MD : Are you talking about tomorrow? Not sure yet! The next big thing is the album release later this year. We've been offered some remix work which we've had to turn down at the moment due to the crazy schedule. We've also been approached by a well-know film director, but we're just going with the flow and seeing where this magic carpet takes us!
AP : Thank you very much.
Find out more about the Urban Myth Club at www.urbanmythclub.com