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Interview With Alt-J: Secrets Behind Making Their Music

alt-J gives us the inside scoop!

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In an interview with Konbini, the three-piece band alt-J out of Leeds, England reveals some of their tricks on making music.  They collaborate with other artists, maintain a minimalist approach to their aesthetic, and even use psychedelics, all to provide to us their signature style.

The interview starts with a question pertaining to vocalist Joe Newman‘s drug use.  Of course, Joe, we want to know what you’re taking–what makes you sound like Adam Sandler slurring his words?  (I’m totally kidding.)

Konbini:  So we heard it all started with a mushroom trip… Your first mushroom trip inspired you and got rid of your inhibitions enough to make you start writing your first album? So what did you do for the other albums?

Joe Newman: “I had been writing songs long before that, but when I took mushrooms, it changed my relationship to writing for good. I wasn’t writing because I was high, I was writing in response to certain traumatic events and I became better because of that.

I’ve been writing for ten years now. Steve Jobs said that experimenting with psychedelics makes you see things from another perspective, it transforms the way you look at the world.”

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So Joe’s shroom-induced trips altered his writing capabilities.  And, studies show that shrooms may be one of the safest psychedelics to ingest.  Can we assume that these guys smoke weed too?  I mean, they make weed-smoking music.

K: For some time now, you’ve been including female vocals, such as Ellie Rowsell from Wolf Alice, and Hinako Omori. What do you think that adds to your music?

Newman: “In both instances, their voices were part of the narrative, like new characters in the scripts of our songs. They brought a new dynamic to the music. Whenever we have the opportunity to do something different, we never let that chance pass us by.”

alt-J’s sound remains so alternative because of their willingness to try strategies like such; but they don’t always receive positive feedback.  Collabing with Rowsell in “3WW” didn’t stop their latest album, Relaxer, from getting shitty reviews.

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K: Your compositions tend to be very minimalist, but these days you probably have access to any level of production you could dream of…

Newman: “Less is more. If you over-produce something, it’s rarely successful. Having access to whatever you want isn’t necessarily a good thing. We like to get our point across without going overboard. That’s how we’ve always done things.

We’ve always had a minimalist approach to writing and composing. It would sound weird if we tried to do something more complex.”

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Maybe their “minimalist approach” is the reason they got mocked by two kids on YouTube.

Despite many negative reviews on their albums, keep on rocking, alt-J!

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