Tri Angle's dark elusive producer on James Kelly's equally mysterious and emotive sounds
Taken from the February issue of Dazed & Confused:
“The video for ‘Bodies’ perfectly encapsulates the juxtapositions in WIFE’s music: slightly uncomfortable sensuality, dirt and devotional, modern-day urban claustrophobia fusing with some kind of ancient, unknowable rural tradition. WIFE is both beautiful and disquieting, fascinating and unnerving.” - Holy Other
James Kelly has only been playing as WIFE for a few months, but his ambiguous moniker is already starting to cause problems. “When I showed up at Unsound there was no one to meet me!” the 25-year-old laughs of his project’s debut at the Polish festival. “I was travelling with some other artists, and they’d written ‘Lee Gamble plus WIFE.’ They were expecting his wife to show up!”
There’s no such ambiguity when meeting Kelly, who released WIFE’s layered, electronic Stoic EP on Left Blank last year, before moving to Tri Angle. After a steel-grip handshake, he explains the darkly erotic video for “Bodies”, which sees him messily devour a peach and slap a piece of inky meat about in a bedroom set ritual. “Hopefully it’s not too fetishy, but it’s obviously quite sexual, ”he explains in his pronounced Irish accent. “Sexuality is very much a part of who I am, and I’m very comfortable with that. It motivates everything I do. ”If the sign of a good party is the following morning’s disarray, then Kelly clearly had a banger – those ink stains were a right pain to get off the floor boards.
It’s sensuality rather than sexuality that best describes WIFE’s dense, low-register electronics, in which wispy vocal loops build into impassioned, full-throttled crescendos. Kelly perfected his growl as frontman of black-metallers Altar of Plagues, and it shows. “I love the idea of lyrics being like a mantra that’s repeated throughout the song,” he says. “It kind of drills into your head. I build everything in a song myself, and my snare drum is made from tablet ops and wood. It’s got so much depth beyond the surface level that you’re hearing.” If you’re not listening to WIFE on cans or doll house-sized speakers, don’t bother.
Kelly has just started work on the debut WIFE album, to be released later this year. “I’m at the stage when I want to start composing it physically,”he says. “I’m planning to leave London for a month to go back to Ireland, and I want to explore the extreme end ofthings.” He grins. “I’m excited.”
Photography by Leonn Ward