Young Circles Interview

Photo by Alex Vanderkooy

Some bands, even in their most embryonic stages, have a touch of something special about them. Florida trio Young Circles have barely taken their first breath but have already managed to craft a debut EP of such bold confidence that they fall firmly in to that category. Certainly several years of plying their trade in various psychedelic and garage punk bands has helped to strengthen their unit, but it’s a new found stylistic transgression which is now most striking. Across it’s five tracks Bones ebbs and flows seamlessly across sonic palettes, from blistering garage rock to hazy dream-pop, sparse Americana and even peripheral flashes of hauntology or trip-hop.  Really, by all accounts, it ought to be a mess but this is one of those arguably too rare instances in which a blatant eclecticism has spurred a band on to create something far greater than the sum of it’s parts, rather than inhibit them. I spoke briefly with drummer Jeff Rose about the genesis of the EP amongst all the other usual stuff.

So Young Circles is a fairly new project, how long have you been together under this name for?

Young Circles has only been official for about a month now.

From what I understand you have been in other bands together though (most notably under the names Blond Fuzz & StoneFox), why the fresh start?

We just felt like it was time to move in a more forward-thinking direction, and to challenge ourselves a little more.

Did you have any degree of success with those former projects?

With all our musical projects there was a good degree of local success, although a lot of the time we felt like we were working against the tastes of most of the S Florida music scene. We did some touring in our last band which was awesome, and I have no doubt that if we would’ve kept it up big things would’ve happened eventually.

The EP covers quite a lot of ground in terms of different styles, was this a particularly conscious effort? If forced how would you describe your own sound?

We think there is a definite spectrum represented on the EP as far as “sounds”…it doesn’t branch too far out of control, but it should be noted that we’re never a band that feels confined by a genre. If we want to write a particular sounding song and feel as though it would work in the context of the band, then you’d better believe we’re gonna work on it! And honestly, I think we’ll be able to describe our sound more accurately once we have a whole album’s worth of material…it’s so new right now, ya know?

It’s still very fluid though, the production really stood out to me in this respect. Where was it recorded?

The majority of the Bones EP was recorded at David’s house with Pro Tools and a couple of mid-grade mics (and a healthy sense of experimentation). The past 3 or 4 albums we’ve recorded have been done in our own living rooms, free of the constraints of a traditional studio…we like our creative control. Over time we have put more and more effort into getting precise sounds that are interesting and musical, while making the most of a home-style recording setup.

What would you cite as main influences, musical or otherwise?

You might be surprised.  Each of us listens to quite a varying array of music.  As far as main influences, I’d say it would be best to break it down in terms of how each of us plays our instruments. Having said that, the advent of Young Circles has brought about some pretty drastic changes as to how we approach musical instruments.  It’s the first time I’ve had to re-assess drumming styles and even setups, which has really pushed me to be more innovative and take into consideration what I want versus what the songs really call for. Jordan has a lot of new things on his plate and is having to multi task more than ever.  David is further exploring the limits of his pedal board and has also had his passion for bass reignited.

I read that one of the band has done ‘ghost-writing’ for hip-hop artists. What did that involve, and I’m quite interested if it’s something that was creatively fulfilling or was it more just a job?

Jordan has definitely lent a hand in creating beats for local hip-hop artists which has been an interest of his for a while.  I don’t know if that constitutes “ghost-writing,” but he’s definitely one to push himself and devote lots of time to all sorts of musical endeavours. He’s been coming up with beats and samples since I’ve known him.  I would definitely say it’s a creative outlet of his, not a job.

Have you played many gigs yet? What can people expect from the Young Circles live experience?

We just played our first official gig at Miami Music Festival this weekend.  It was nice to finally see how things go over in a live setting with big sound and whatnot.  You can expect a lot of drums and loud noises. We hope you sing along, too.

Is it also true that David sometimes plays bass and guitar at the same time as a preference to sampling, how does this work? And what’s your beef with samplers?

Let me go on record as saying that we do use a sampler as a way to recreate album sounds live, so we don’t have to lug pianos and organs to all our shows.  It’s not the “backing-track” type, though. Jordan plays a Roland SP-555 more as an instrument, and essentially has to trigger chords, sounds, and percussion in time, just like he would play any other part in the band. We have had to be pretty creative for live sound for a while now, and have incorporated a bass/guitar rig and octave pedals to generate a huge sound live. I won’t go into fine detail; you’ll just have to see/hear for yourself!

Speaking of gigs then, what was the first ever gig you played? And also the best gig?

Technically, the first gig we ever played together was New Years Eve 2005 (into 2006). We played at midnight, on a rooftop…pretty cool. That was a few bands ago. And really any gig where the crowd’s into it is the best ever.

It’s getting towards that time of the year now so, what are your favourite albums of 2010?

I have to say, I was pretty disappointed by a lot of new records from some of my favourite artists, but here’s a list of the really good ones: Autolux – Transit Transit, Beach House – Teen Dream, Spoon – Transference, Tame Impala – InnerSpeaker, Tokyo Police Club – Champ, and Vampire Weekend – Contra. I know Jordan would throw Brothers by The Black Keys in there too.

The EP is out in January, what are the band plans following that?

We’re currently working on booking an East coast tour for mid-February in support of Bones. We’ll just have to see what happens after that!