We premiere the robotic pop duo on This Is Music's eerie new video and chat to them about the eternal debate between analogue and digital sounds
Having been remixed by the likes of Brassica, Tuff City Kids, and Detroit legend Theo Parrish, duo Helium Robots (the musical project from Dissident's Ewan Wilmott and Lydia Jones) on Running Back and This Is Music make intriguing pop-tinged electro-influenced numbers with a decidedly robotic edge fitting of their name. Alongside the surreal new video for their single 'Lacrimosa' as previewed here, their latest release 'Silver' with remixes from house & disco producer Picture House, and Youpidou is out now.
...the story behind your name?
Ewan: When I started messing about making computer music a lot of the tracks I created didn't have enough bass. I don’t know why and I put some in when I realised, but I think I was trying to focus on the melodies so much that the bass was neglected. To be honest, a lot of those early tracks were rubbish even when the bass was fattened up. But the name came because the tracks sounded too high-pitched. Like a robot on helium.
Lydia: You can never have enough bass.
... your favourite sound?
Lydia: Least favourite sound is my alarm clock. I hate that little bastard.
Ewan: The crackle of a vinyl record. Warms the cockles, so it does.
...your favourite website?
Lydia: Postsecret. There’s something reassuring in the fact that broadly, everyone is the same.
Ewan: The Daily Mash. If I was American I’d prefer The Onion. But I’m not.
...better, analogue or digital?
Ewan: I'm a big fan of the endless possibilities of digital. There's a lot of fun to be had with the extravaganza of plug-ins and sounds with this world. It really is mind-boggling and you have to be pretty strict with yourself so you don’t endlessly carry on tweeking for weeks, to which I'm sure Lydia will attest. That said, if anyone wants to sell me a Korg Trident then I'm all ears. There's a warmth in analogue you just don't get in digital (yet). It's funny the way digital is often trying to emulate analogue stuff in different mediums. Look at Instagram. And you can get plug-ins in digital music which are supposed to make things sound more analogue too. But, from what I can tell, our ears ain't falling for them.
Lydia: I’m sticking with analogue. Not only because I find Logic unfathomable, but nothing beats a box of wood and some strings at making a beautiful sound.
...your favourite record label?
Ewan: Can I get a bit nostalgic here...? When I was a DJ I loved labels. I was a label fetishist. I used to love Thomas Bangalter's label Roule. Fluid Ounce were bananas too. There’s two. Is that allowed?
Lydia: 4AD, they were so cool they didn’t even have an A&R department.
...your worst fashion secret?
Lydia: I don’t think Ewan’s bad fashion is much of a secret.
Ewan: Yes it is. Be quiet. I’d like everyone to know I have a suit made of wool. That is good fashion. High fashion, even.
Lydia: I have a golfing jumper that I’m very fond of.
Ewan: Is it wool? If not, no good.
...are you listening to now?
Ewan: CEO - White Magic, Cocteau Twins - Heaven Or Las Vegas, The first Justice album, Van Morrison - Astral Weeks. And everyone should check out Youpidou on soundcloud. He did a remix of our new track Silver which is blissful. Some of his stuff makes me want to assume the fetal position and suck my thumb.
Lydia: You can’t dance to it, but at the moment I'm mostly listening to classical music partly because I like it, and partly because I'm terrified I'll accidentally plagiarise something contemporary. You can nick stuff all day long from those old guys and no one minds. I’ve made an exception for Anna Calvi’s record which I love and am immensely jealous of. That girl can really play guitar. More girls should play guitar. And of course, Blamma! Blamma! I’ve loved those guys for years and was stoked when they agreed to remix Lacrimosa. They’ve taken it to a really dark and interesting place that I never had imagined it could go when we wrote it.
How would you describe your work?
Ewan & Lydia: The heavenly apocalypse
Lydia: More gigs, the more we play together, the better we get. And more songs as well. We don’t want to get bored of playing the same set over and over.