Electronic duo Vogue Dots have been creating dreamy, chilled and edgy pop, which soothes and dabbles around dark and moody subjects. Comprised of Babette Hayward and Tynan Dunfield, the duo have been touring heavily after the release of EPs Mauka and Toska which have taken them across Europe and around their home country Canada. Now moving into new territory and experimenting with their live performances you can enjoy this interview with both Tynan and Babette.
AMBY: How did you guys meet and get into music?
Babette: We met at a Sum 41 concert in 2003…
Tynan: We didn’t meet again till 2008 or 2009, something like that.
Babette: We just sort of kept in touch through our fandom of Sum 41 [laughs].
Tynan: We moderated a Sum 41 forum together. It’s called…actually it’s not still there it never existed [laughs]. Babette would do other sort of performances though as a solo artist and I did a lot of sound work and recording. So every time I could convince Babette she would play and I would be able to record some stuff and maybe help work on an album or two. I remember I drummed on one of your albums and the engineer cut all of my drumming. He was like yea we’ve got all kinds of drum parts in there now so you can’t really hear it.
Babette: Tynan had like a bunch of good ideas but…
Tynan: That’s the nicest way of putting it.
Babette: [laughs] The engineer was like the kits not the same on the next one so it’s not going to sound the same.
Tynan: I was very, very kindly phased out of the album completely.
Tynan: Eventually what it came to though, was that I was doing lots of electronic stuff and sending it to Babette and she wasn’t really doing her singer song writing thing anymore and I asked her to sing on a couple of things and it just turned into a band from there really. We just did a couple of demos and ended up shacking up at college together for…
Babette: Shaking… that’s like the weirdest word because it makes us sound like we’re a couple and we’re not.
Tynan: We’ve got to avoid that kind of language, we can’t say partner ever, we avoid all that kind of terminology.
AMBY: So what sort of terminology do you usually use?
Tynan: I don’t know. Band mates is very platonic sounding.
Babette: I dunno, it’s funny because people think we’re either siblings or like married.
Tynan: They think we’re in a relationship, until they spend any amount of time with us and witness us fighting about something and then they’ll be like, oh so you guys are brother and sister. But yea, I’m not sure what sort of terminology we approve of.
Babette: Business partners [laughs].
AMBY: Very formal. Now aside from being big fans of Sum 41 your sound itself differs greatly from punk rock, how would you describe it and what influences have you drawn in?
Tynan: We’ve been brought up with lots of different types of things.
Babette: There’s been times where we’ve drove around and listened to a lot of different records, I was driving my mum’s old van and listening to music, and we realised we had a lot of similar influences and ideas.
Tynan: At first we never really made dance music, we didn’t start out thinking we’d make this type of dance music or a version of dance music we kind of started making almost like folk or structurally we….maybe that the wrong thing to say actually…but we never really tried to make out right banging electronic music, it just mutated into a weird little hybrid. But we certainly have a lot of electronic influences, older stuff such as Tears for Fears and Kush. We never really had a plan for what we were going to make by the time we had twelve songs, we just looked at those and that’s what we’re trying to do basically. Now we’re just figuring out where to go next if we’re going to imitate that album or that body of work or like just keep doing things widely.
AMBY: I was listening to your two EPs Mauka and Toska
Babette: Yes, Mauka is a Hawaiian word and Toska is Russian. They were all recorded at the same time and we released the first EP and wanted to do something with the latter half of the songs, but we wanted to make it kind of like an a-side and a b-side.
AMBY: Can you tell us about the songs on both those albums and how you separated them?
Tynan: We already had all the music and it wasn’t divided, so we didn’t plan on making this EP and this EP, we made twelve songs and then chose five for the first EP and four for the second. It was based more upon which songs made sense thematically and sonically together and so Toska is a more cloudier album a little more dreamier and sadder in tone whereas Mauka is sort of more aggressive, it has a little more anxiety in it. Mauka is a lot more sharper in tone whereas Tosca is cloudy and dreamy and all of those things. It was more like coupling those songs out of the twelve we had and made sense and stuck together. There was actually a few that didn’t make it on as well, three which will probably be heard at some point.
AMBY: Now you’ve been in the UK for a short time now and your shows have been in quite quick succession…
Babette: They have, we managed to get two days off though in Brighton
AMBY: Oh, so what did you get up to on those days off then?
Babette: We went to the beach, we walked around.
Tynan: That was pretty much it.
Babette: We really didn’t do much, we bought some postcards.
Tynan: I bought six you bought four or something.
Babette: But we’re going back again, we have a small gap before we head off to Germany and it kind of reminds us of home.
AMBY: How does it compare to being at home when you’re over here and elsewhere?
Babette: I find that people over here and every show has just been so organised, not to like talk down Canada at all, but the promoters at every show have just been so good.
Tynan: Promoters have actually been at every show. They show up and introduce themselves are are like, oh you’re here. Whereas at home you like show up and there’s some guy that ‘s hungover cleaning…actually I really shouldn’t talk so much shit about Canada [laughs].
Babette: Audience wise…
Tynan: It was tricky coming over here because we didn’t really know what to expect, we don’t really have like a fan base over here. I mean we’ve been before but we haven’t really got tonnes of friends over here and to have anyone at all turn up to our shows is just amazing. So we didn’t really know what to expect but it’s been really positive and we’ve had some good shows over here.
AMBY: Has there been any shows that have stood out in particular?
Tynan: London’s probably been one of my favourite places to play so far. I liked the waiting room that was really cool. There’s not been anything to crazy but the crowds have been really good.
AMBY: So you’re a two piece at the minute, would you ever consider adding to your live performances?
Tynan: We’re looking at taking someone else, we’ve recently played a show with a drummer back home and that went really well. We’re enlisting people to help us on tour, so we’re looking at maybe expanding the live set but we’ve done it before and ended up scaling back. We added a guitar and a drum set that didn’t really work so we scaled it back…well actually maybe I shouldn’t say it didn’t work, how do you feel?
Babette: Well that was before we had any plan, we were just doing everything on our own and we’d met our manager during that time and they were like focus on you two at first and figure out what you want to do, because ultimately we made all the music as a duo.
Tynan: And we had no idea how we were going to do it live right?
Babette: Yea, exactly.
AMBY: Is that an element you’ve found challenging, perfecting the recorded songs live?
Tynan: Absolutely, I think most electronic artists, unless they start playing live, find it challenging because unless you just plug it in and play it then stand there and sing along, to work out a way that’s a good balance between a good performance and something that’s true to the record is really hard. It’s taken us a lot of time to get where we are now and it’s still work in progress and always will be. It’s really tricky to find that balance between being really active with a lot going on to getting it to sound exactly how you want it to. I think we’re just starting to get there now, as a two piece we feel a lot stronger with this set.
AMBY: I’ve seen that you’ve also been experimenting with some covers…
Babette: We’ve been experimenting with some covers live, some of them have and some of them haven’t exactly worked out. We’ve been covering Small Black live and we also tried a Frank Ocean at one point and it didn’t work out…It’s weird because it’s like borderline rapping a little bit at one point.
Tynan: You pulled it off. Although it’s one of those things that we didn’t feel that comfortable with because when we had a longer set we’d be like oh we have to do fuckiiing Frank Ocean.
AMBY: So you have these two EP’s out and you’ve been playing a load of shows, what’s next for you guys?
Babette: We’ve got a single on the go that’s going to be finished really soon, we’ve just been labouring over the mixing process.
Tynan: We took so much time on the first two records and now we feel like we can take that much time on the second one, but we don’t get that luxury anymore because you can’t really move at that pace. You have to be putting out new material. We are always keen to get home and set up a studio for a couple of weeks and focus on that because especially when you’re on tour and have just done a show, you don’t want to be working on more music all night.
Babette: I guess we had like a week or four days or something last time we were in the UK in London and you would stay up till four in the morning mixing…and I would sleep [laughs].
Tynan: You would get up really early though so I suppose I would stay up four hours later but sleep in four hours later too.
AMBY: I guess that gives you guys some of your own space too?
Tynan: Sometimes…we end up pretty close quarters most of the time, it’s another aspect of this sort of like couple thing. Sometimes we’ll show up at a place and there like so there’s your bed.
Babette: Ohhh, that was so funny. It was like some great couples get away in Brighton, and when we got there, there was banners on the wall that said things like love.
Tynan: There was pin-up girls all over the duvet and hearts everywhere, and we were like this is pretty cute. Like how romantic for us [laughs].
Babette: How romantic. I feel like they still don’t know we’re not a couple.
Tynan: There’s definitely been situations when we should have said something earlier on because it’s kind of hard to go back on.
Babette: It’s always funny when we get in band fights in public because there’s always on lookers that are like ooo that couples breaking up, and it’s like we’re in a band!
Tynan: Or like when we’re lugging gear, sometimes I’ll turn round and Babette is carrying one of the cases and I can see people glaring at me like you should really be helping her out with that, this is not looking good for you. Also when we’re out and getting food together we pay separately sometimes and the waiter looks at us like what do you mean.
AMBY: Have you ever used that to your advantage Babette?
Tynan: [laughs] You never use that to your advantage to get me to pay for you because you would rather pay for yourself than have someone else think we’re in a couple, is that incorrect?
Babette: …I dunno [laughs].
Tynan: It’s funny to think about all the awkward situations we could thrust upon people now.
Babette: I’m starting to think about how we could use this to our advantage.
Tynan: We could claim we were newly married and claim lots of free stuff.
Babette: Maybe we should get married for tax purposes…this is getting weird.
Tynan: Yea, this stopped being about the band a while ago now it’s about scamming the government.
AMBY: Well before this gets any more out of hand it might be a good idea to wrap this up, thanks for your time guys and enjoy the remainder of your tour.
Tynan and Babette: Yea, thanks.
Thank you Vogue Dots, for giving us your answers!
Interview by Jacob Flannery |