Two years after their debut LP 'Boys and Diamonds' introduced Danny and Tiffany Preston proper as Los Angeles-based electronic pop duo Rainbow Arabia, this April sees them return with a third member – former Cursive drummer Dylan Ryan – and FM Sushi, their second studio LP on the Kompakt label. Through their wonderfully varied and divergent tastes in progressive electronic music, film scores and the post-countercultural legacy of 70s Americana, Rainbow Arabia's sound has grown to be a supremely stylish and robust affair, which FM Sushi will surely solidify for the trio.
To celebrate the release, Dazed Digital is thrilled to bring an exclusive, one-of-a-kind mixtape from Rainbow Arabia; a reworking of the Tangerine Dream soundtrack for the 1977 movie 'Sorcerer', complete with a previously absent percussive element that injects the original, eerie score with a renewed sense of drive and movement. I also caught up with Danny and spoke to him about the bands love for cinematic scores, and how the landscape and atmosphere of their rural Californian surroundings informs their creativity.
Dazed Digital: Talk us through the theme of the mix. What made you decide to go with it, where did you pull other inspiration from for it and what do you hope to convey about the bands sound through this theme?
Rainbow Arabia: We took the soundtrack from the movie Sorcerer by Tangerine Dream and reconstructed it using drums sounds used on our forthcoming album. We pretty much just jammed along with Tangerine Dream to attempt to make their music danceable. The original soundtrack is made up of arpeggiations, sequences, and old synthesizers. There are no drums. It seems like it wouldn’t complement the music, but it works somehow. It’s pretty out. We have really been into Tangerine Dream’s body of work the last couple years and finally came across Sorcerer recently. We really like how dark, tribal and futuristic it sounded.
It just came as a faint idea to have Dylan jam along with the soundtrack and tweak things to complement it. It was really challenging since there was fluctuations in tempo. Remember, this was 1977, before MIDI was invented. They couldn’t even sync the keyboards together. I still can’t believe this was made in 1977. A lot of our keyboard sounds used on FM Sushi were inspired from soundtrack music and early 80s German electronic prog. Listening to Sorcerer over and over gave us inspiration towards more experimental ventures.
DD: Your new album is gorgeous. How do you feel you've progressed as a group in the years since your last LP in both a practical and creative sense? What brought the addition of a drummer on and how do you feel it's added to the group dynamic, particularly in a live setting?
Rainbow Arabia: Thank you! We're always progressing. We have cut down some of the reverb and effects, even though there still is quite a bit on the new record. This album is meant to experience as a whole album in its entirety because we felt it was difficult to capture the mood and vibe we were going for in single songs. As you make your way through the record though, you pick up on the overall vibe. We have taken new approaches in song writing, especially on how chord progressions can be played under sequences and the shifting of root basslines.
Dylan Ryan is our new member. He plays drums for us, but he also fancies guitar and keyboards. He was a big part of establishing the mood of this record. It’s nice to have another person to bounce ideas off of. Our live show definitely is more stimulating with his additions. He still mainly plays pads, but there are live cymbals and some toms which definitely adds energy to the performance.
DD: Where have you pulled inspiration from for your new LP?
Rainbow Arabia: Along with soundtracks, German electronic stuff from the early-mid eighties has been inspiring as well. People like Dieter Moebius and Robert Schroeder. But a lot of it was re-inspired from music that I grew up with when I was a kid, stuff like Depeche Mode, OMD, New Order and Pet Shop Boys. Watching movies from the late 70s and early 80s that were set in NYC also gave some inspiration. There was just this vibe about the city back then. It was rough but beautiful at the same time.
DD: How do you feel you sit as a band on the Kompakt label, which is known primarily for its techno?
Rainbow Arabia: It’s been a pleasure being on the Kompakt label. They are a really good company that contributes a lot to music. This album is being released as a Time No Place release in partnership with Kompakt. Time No Place is a label we started a year ago with Tim Jones, our publicist. Kompakt is our distributor and very supportive on us building this label. Some releases so far are Nguzunguzu, FAY, Castratii, and we have some really exciting releases for this year, like Yola Fatoush, Skintown and much more awesomeness.
DD: I feel your work feels not just American but particularly Californian; there's something quintessentially Californian about your sound that I can't quite put my finger on. Would you agree with this? How do you feel living in the hills around LA inspires you?
Rainbow Arabia: We live in an old craftsman house in the foothills of Echo Park and a studio in the basement where the “Californian” magic happens. The house sits within a bunch of trees and a huge yard for our two giant dogs named Django and Murphy. It’s a nice place to get in the zone, drink coffee and enjoy the sunshine play with our pups. The past couple years we have been total homebodies. To us the record has a lot of darkness and sounds like we made it somewhere else but maybe our surroundings somehow still instill a California sound. It’s nice to hear a little California is in there.