Thieves Like Us Steal the Electro Limelight

Despite their split from Kitsune two years ago, Thieves Like Us are inspiring audiences around the world with their unique brand of electronica.

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Photograph by Maciej Lansberg
Post-punk, electronica band Thieves Like Us made a storm on our iPod shuffles in 2006, with their first single “Drugs in My Body” released by the French powerhouse Kitsune. Two years later, Andy, Pontus and Bjorn are still making records, and their latest LP “Play Music” came out last October. They claim it was recorded in London, Berlin, Stockholm and New York, in-between “washing dishes, pouring pints and checking coats in nightclubs.” And taking a cue from New Order (the band was named after their 1984 song), “Play Music” is filled with melancholy hidden beneath 80s-like synth beats. I caught up with them in Warsaw in the middle of their European tour.

Dazed Digital: Can you talk me through your new album Play Music?
Thieves Like Us: A lot of it was written in Berlin, about four years ago. It was quite a depressing time for us. We were going out a lot, drinking, coming back home dissatisfied. We also listened to a lot of electronica, which was huge in Berlin at the time, and wanted to create a better version of what we heard. The new album was released by an independent label in Vienna called Sea You Records. We split from Kitsune after releasing “Drugs in My Body”. They said our album was too depressing for their roster. They also made us wait for two years, which was a waste of time really.

DD:So you’re not one of those bands that desperately want to be signed to a major label?
TLU: Well, Sea You is great, because they really take care of us. Besides, you don’t really need labels today. Of course, it’s good for PR, but most big labels have so many clients that they don’t have time to develop their bands. It was actually quite surprising that we landed on Kitsune in the first place.

DD: How has the European tour been so far?
TLU: It’s been amazing. We’ve already done eight shows and Poland has been the best so far. We had no idea how good the response would be in those countries. People were screaming, they knew most of our lyrics. Because not many bands come here, people in Eastern Europe are very hungry for music. Then again, when they do come, they usually charge something like 50 pounds for their concert. It’s completely unethical. Apparently, Hercules and the Love Affair came to Poland a few weeks ago, and no one showed up!

DD: Which places are you looking forward to?
TLU: We’re going to the States in February, which should be exciting. It’s just interesting to see how different places react, and we’re quite exotic there. Mexico should be fun too. Every time we go there, it’s like a huge fiesta…

DD: Are you fans of other bands?
TLU: Blonde Redhead and Bat For Lashes are pretty good. We also listen to R’n’B for all its loops and sounds. But generally, we’re quite critical of new bands, which is why we started making music in the first place. We would go to all these gigs and just not like the stuff. There was no one to teach us and we had to learn everything ourselves. But despite all the obstacles on the way, music is what we’re here for. We wouldn’t change it to anything else.

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