British duo Until The Ribbon Breaks have gone through a few transformations over the years from being a trio to a duo, from living in the UK to living in LA, from partying to being sober but one thing has remained, their passion for expressing themselves through sound and film.
UTRB’s most recent release is the video for their track “My Love,” off of their forthcoming sophomore album due out early 2018. The track is an uplifting ballad about trying to see the positive things in life, layering vocals with beats to tell the story. This story is surely inspired by dealing with the difficult challenges of getting sober, a common thread in their newest tracks. Creating textures and beats is something Pete and Elliot have always excelled at and they are proving it again here with “My Love”. We went deep with Pete on the inspiration of the new UTRB album and his love of marrying music to visuals, which has become their calling card.
Until The Ribbon Breaks play the Peppermint Club tonight, December 7th! Get your tickets to the show here. Check out their COLLiDE IG take over all day today and get behind the scenes pre-show with the boys @officialculturecollide.
Your collective love of film seems to be a major influence on UTRB, and apparently greatly informed the writing process of this new album. Can you speak to that in greater detail?
Yes, I studied film in school and long before that, I was obsessed with how film and music complement each other. Twenty years ago, I started making skate videos of my friends, editing found footage to music I had made and I’ve never really stopped. This album in particular is no less or more informed by cinema and moving image than anything else we have made, it is I. Our name, the ‘ribbon’ alluding to VHS tape form the movies we watched as kids. As long as we make music, there will be a visual accompaniment. To me they are not mutually exclusive, they are the perfect marriage of form and feeling.
Did this new album follow a similar writing process as your previous releases, with you composing music over projections of classic movies with the sound off? Can you explain that process a little?
This album was different in that it was written so sporadically and literally all over the place, from the UK, to the States, all the way to East Asia. It also travelled through its fair share of emotional trauma and change, suffice to say, there was never the opportunity for one technique or method of writing/recording. The films were created after the record this time and not during. The songs were more informed by our lives and then we sourced the footage to match.
What single film had the greatest impact on the writing and recording of the new album?
Like all of these things, it is an unexpected moment that blows something open and can really change the direction of an idea. I was in Thailand at a recovery center and my days had become incredibly regimented, purposefully. Structure in sobriety is incredibly important. My evenings were solitary and often involved reading and watching real life stories of survival. It became an addiction in itself. I think I was looking for happy endings to stories of difficult situations. During one of these occasions, I happened completely randomly on a film about one man’s attempted ascension of a mountain peak in the Himalayas called Meru. There was something about that word that struck a chord. The next day the words to my now favorite song on the record were written. You never know what will inspire you and where it will come from. It was a good lesson in staying open, staying receptive.
The songs on your previous album were all accompanied by found-footage films you made yourself. Your new single “My Love” has a (slightly) more traditional music video that looks to have been filmed specifically for this project. Can you explain this shift in approach? What was the process of making the video like?
Funny you should say, it is still found footage just a larger piece. I wanted to see if it was possible to sync the movements of one dance to the audio of another song. Basically I just enjoy manipulating visuals as much as I do with audio. I just see it as the same as sampling. Everything is borrowed and reinterpreted. It’s all just a celebration of form and process to me.
UTRB is obviously informed by the aesthetics of classic film, but are you at all inspired by films scores or soundtracks? Are there any composers, film scores, or soundtracks that have had a significant influence on your music?
Yes. For years my music when I would travel, I mean literally the moving of a train, plane, boat, was always the same playlist I had made of Thomas Newman scores. He is my favorite composer when it comes to the potential humanity in harmony, he always manages to find empathy with a character by the simple movement of a chord. I had the chance to meet him and he was utterly charming and has a truly dependable handshake.
You are originally from the UK but have been based in LA for a little while now. What major differences in the music scene/culture has been the most apparent since you relocated?
To me none. Since I first saved up for a sampler with my Saturday job money at 15, I have been a studio nerd. I don’t listen to what is going on, I never have. For pleasure I listen to podcasts, read, and watch documentaries. The music I listen to when I’m not making music these days, has to be instrumental. I love Coltrane, I love Bill Evans, I love the scores of Thomas Newman and Hans Zimmer. It’s not a comment on what I think of modern music, the scene, the culture. There is consistently amazing new things being made, I just don’t find it relaxing to listen to them after I have finished a 12 hour studio session.
UTRB seems to be the result of a desire to make music for films. Now that you are based in LA, do you have any plans to delve into making soundtracks or scores for major films?
In a way all I have been doing is trying to make mini scores, UTRB has been an opportunity to write a little of the screen play too. It is my dream to compose for film. It is in my blood. My parents and grandparents played on scores ranging from Indiana Jones to Dr Who. As a child, instead of getting a child minder, my sister and I would watch the orchestra rehearse. I had the privilege just yesterday of doing the exact same thing 20 years later! Watching a scoring session at Warner Brothers. Who knows, it may be my turn soon…
The old tradition of making mixtapes for friends and lovers is a unifying theme UTRB, can you speak to the relationship between the band and this lost art? Can young people capture the same magic today through Spotify playlists and the like?
Yes, as long as the intention is to share then the format does not matter. I’ve never been a purist in that sense. I hate snobbery in music. I don’t care whether you give me a song on a gramophone, a cassette or via satellite transfer. It’s all just people trying to express something through theirs or someone else’s music. That’s what counts, not how it got there.