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Combine an avid synth hoarder, DJ, fashion director and a My Bloody Valentine collaborator, and you have Frere - a collaboration between two long-time friends, Paul-Antony Smith and Andy Savours, the result is ‘Hands Closing’, an EP that is cinematic, dreamlike and palpable. They trace fine, spacious house grooves while conjuring an essence of melancholia rarely refined so successfully. The depth of their personal pursuits cannot be understated and the unique sound this latest EP displays is nothing short of remarkable, Frere present filmic synths and rattling drums, as fitting at 6 am on a dancefloor as they would soundtracking a dusty Wim Wenders wide shot. In this interview with us, Savours and Smith talk to LN-CC about adding humanity to often robotic club music, preventing restriction and allowing the music to come alive. The duos early UK garage influences have been fundamental, and they dissect how although the music and fashion industries seem to be fragmented, there are still opportunities for people with a unique vision. We also introduce the latest instalment of the LN-CC mix series. Frere dig deep, supplying a powerful sonic excursion through broken club beats and ethereal soundscapes.
The vinyl is available for sale at LN-CC from Saturday 17th November and the digital on Spotify and iTunes from the Friday 23rd November.


Tell us about how Frere started, how did you both meet?

Andy: We met through mutual friends a decade ago and it was one of those random friendships that stuck. Paul had been Djing for years but had always wanted produce tunes as well as play them. He came to me a couple of years ago with the idea of making a few tracks to play in his Dj sets and the project just grew from there.

Where did the name Frere come from?

Andy: Seems like a lot of people are calling each other brother these days and Paul is half French so using the French word for brother as a name for two friends making tunes together seemed apt. Also, having a name that worked visually was important to us and the word Frere has a nice symmetry to it.

The music you’ve worked on has been highly diverse, is there a style that particularly resonates with your music and practice of production?

Andy: As a producer and engineer I’ve worked with quite a few bands known for the density and texture of their sound (MBV, Sigur Ros, the horrors etc). We wanted to create electronic music with a similar depth and sense of space so I borrowed some techniques from alt rock production and applied them to making club music. There’s a lot of live performance in the making of the music which gives it unpredictability and humanity. We love club music but often sonically it’s quite 2D and a bit robotic and sterile. We tried to make music that feels so alive and human you almost feel like you can reach out and touch it.

There’s a cinematic quality to the EP with influences from World music and downtempo house, how would you describe your sound?

Paul: When we started the project I brought in a lot of the music I’d been using in my DJ sets that I wanted to reference as inspiration. Initially we were listening to a lot of my 90’s slow house records which had a certain atmosphere and mood we really liked. I’d describe it as blissed out but with a hint of menace. I think that the project has kept that mood although we’ve been taking rhythmic influence from all sorts of different places. Afrobeat but also 2step and rave. We’ve named the Frere genre dusty house and garage. A bit of a joke but kind of sums it up.

You’ve both achieve lots in creative roles. Tell us about the early days; what was your vision when you set out, and have things played out how you expected?

Paul: I think we both followed a fairly similar route in terms of our work. We both went in at the bottom and learnt our craft before branching out and pursuing our own creative interests. I worked for a few fashion brands in London and always loved collaborating with innovative designers with a unique personality. Those are the kind of projects I gravitate to so when I set up my consultancy those are the kind of people I chose to work with. I guess it’s worked out kind of how I imagined it to but there are always surprises along the way. Usually good ones (fingers crossed).

Andy: Like Paul, I started working at the bottom. In my case making the tea in recording studios. I was lucky to work on some great projects early on. You learn a lot working with great artists and I started to develop my own production vision by watching other people in the studio. Things have pretty much played out as I hoped although I never really planned to set up my own studio which I did last year. Also, I always thought I’d be a producer working for other artists rather than on my own project so developing Frere has been a step into the unknown for me - in a great way.

Can you tell us a bit more about your consultancy and studio?

Andy: I have a studio in Camden Town. Its a home for all my old synths, drum machines and other music toys but its where we work on frere but also where I produce, record and mix for other artists. There aren’t many studios left in that part of town and it’s a great space so I’m lucky to have it.

Paul: With my consultancy I work with designers to help develop their collections and help get there stuff to market. I set it up a few years ago and have been working with brands like The Vampires Wife, Shrimps and Primury.

What advice would you give your younger selves?

Andy: If you’ve got a creative itch - scratch it. I’d always wanted to develop a project like Frere but before Paul pestered me into it I’d never got round to it.

Paul: If you’ve got a vision be willing to take risks. I had to go a bit out on a limb to set up my agency but its the best decision I ever made.

Where did you grow up and how has that shaped your music?

Andy: I grew up in North London. Back then I listened to a lot of indie but there was always a lot of 2step around. I always remember EZ’s name was everywhere back then. He must have been busy! So I guess it was natural for me to reference a bit of garage when we started Frere.

Paul: I grew up in Blackpool. I started collecting vinyl and DJing when I was 16. Dick Johnson introduced me to DJing, I had a pretty varied taste in music collecting jungle, 2 step, breakbeat, happy hardcore, hip-hop, drum & Bass and mainly progressive & deep house. I used to throw a night called Kingsized in Blackpool and do mixtapes for my mates.

For anyone out there looking to break into music — what's your advice on where they should begin?

Andy: Decide exactly the kind of music you want to make. If you have a direction you can always learn the skills you need to realise it. However, if you don’t have a direction you can waste a lot of energy flapping around in the dark.

Tell us about the new EP?

Paul: This is our debut EP and I think it’s a pretty good blueprint for what we’re trying to do with Frere. We wanted the project to tread a fine line between club music and listen at home electronica. This EP has a foot in both those worlds but also has elements of post-rock and shoegaze in there. We also wanted Frere not to be tied to strongly to one dance subgenre so the fact we have a mix of off-kilter four on the floors (“Hands Closing” and “pushed”) and 2steps (“Curbed and “Began Begin”) on the EP felt fitting. Most importantly these tunes capture the moody euphoria that was the essence of what we were trying to do. It’s hard to assess your own music but one thing we’re sure about is that Frere has its own personality that isn’t quite like anything else. Hopefully people will like it

What were the inspirations behind this record?

Andy: Briefly (and honestly) for me I’d say LFO, MBV, Laughing stock era Talk Talk and Burial.

Paul: Spooky little Bullet, The Ballasted Orchestra, Global Communications The Way, Mood II Swing, Lukid , Solitaire Gee, Slowhouse.

What are your thoughts on modern day, music and fashion industry?

Andy: Music and fashion have a lot in common in terms of how the mechanics of the industry’s work. However, there are a lot of differences. Coming from music I’m fascinated by the fashion business and it definitely has a very different atmosphere to music. Both industries seem to fragmented in recent years which is challenging. However, I think there are opportunities there for people with a unique vision but who are also willing to be adaptable. Things change so fast these days you can never sit still or cling to outdated ways of working.

How do you personally feel fashion intertwines with music culture?

Paul: People in fashion are fascinated by music culture. A lot of new trends in fashion have been taken from stuff happening in music. There’s so many examples of that but punk and hip-hop are two pretty obvious ones. Right now you look at how musicians Instagram accounts affect sales in high street stores and you can see how important that relationship still is. Fashion will always seek out iconic people with a unique style to influence and represent it. A lot of those people will be in music.

How is style important to what you do?

Andy: For Frere we always wanted to have a strong visual element to the project. At the beginning the idea was always that Frere should be a music project and a fashion project at the same. Paul has always been fascinated by t-shirt design & collects vintage T-shirts so we wanted develop a t-shirt brand in conjunction with our first EP release. Hence we spent a lot of time developing an artwork aesthetic for the project that would transfer well to t-shirts. It’s an interesting challenge designing a great t-shirt. I’ve been learning a bit about that from Paul. It may seem simple but a great t-shirt is kind of work of art in itself.

What are you listening to right now?

Paul: I’ve just been putting together a DJ set for our show with Tourist at Nightales on the 16 November. Hence I’ve done a lot of listening to all kinds of stuff but in particular, I’m loving SMX, Eomac, Leif, Lone, Severed Heads, Mall Grab, D Man, Skee Mask.

Andy: I’m currently working with Peter Perrett from the only ones and can’t stop listening to his album ‘How the west was one’ from last year. Also, have been listening to Adult Jazz’s debut album which I love. Such a bold, strange beautiful album.

What brands are you wearing?

Paul: Vintage, Comme des Garcons, Primury, Story MFG, Patagonia

Andy: To be honest I’m not the most clued up person in terms of fashion (despite Pauls influence) so am often head to toe in Uniqlo. Bit boring I know.

Do have any recommendations for emerging talent in the world of music and fashion we should watch out for?

Andy: Watch out for ‘Sorry’ on Domino Records. I have been working with them on their last few singles and they’re one of the most interesting new guitar bands I’ve heard for years. Also Asha Lorenz might have the voice of her generation in the way Alex Turner did. Very exciting.

What’s next for Frere?

Paul: Our EP is out this week on vinyl and digital on Tourist Monday Records label. Also, our first t-shirt range is about to go on sale so we’re pretty excited about all of that. We’re already working on our next EP so can’t wait to get going with this release.