Kye ‘Foamo’ Gibbon talks ‘Sirens’…

It’s been a massive year for house duo Gorgon City, aka Kye Gibbon (‘Foamo’) and Matt Robson-Scott (‘RackNRuin’). Having been actively producing dance tracks for several years, as individuals and a collaborative project, they scored a top-five hit in early 2014 with ‘Ready For Your Love’, featuring MNEK. It laid the foundations for a festival season of substantial bookings, a second top-10 with ‘Here For You’, and the release of the pair’s debut album, ‘Sirens’.

With ‘Sirens’ (review) imminent – the album is released October 6th on Black Butter – we got Kye on the phone for our latest In Conversation piece.

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‘Unmissable’, feat. Zak Abel, from ‘Sirens’

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I’m guessing, despite the hits to date, the album’s imminent release has you buzzing?

Yeah, it’s been a year and a half, two years of our lives. We’ve worked really hard on it. I kind of can’t believe it’s actually coming out. We’re pretty anxious about it.

I spoke to The Bug recently, who said, in relation to all the shit going on in the world, that he didn’t know “how anyone can be happy making a bland house record right now”. How would you respond to that? Is house more a means of escape from realities, rather than a reinforcement of them?

Yeah, I think it is a bit of escapism – that’s what house music is all about. From the start, it’s been about people from all walks of life coming together and partying. That whole attitude, that togetherness, is what house music is about. Whenever I am in a club, in Ibiza or Manchester, and people are playing house, the audience is really diverse. And that’s a great group to be a part of.

When we first starting working as Gorgon City, we were really focused on making house tracks for the clubs. It was putting out ‘Real’, with Yasmin, that turned things for us a little. That made us think more about songs, for a wider audience, than strictly club tracks. And this album is more a set of those kind of songs, albeit anchored with our production – there are definitely songs on there that are not house.

The album features a great many different voices on it, from Katy B to Maverick Sabre. How do the two of you think you’ve maintained your identity on the set, given these very disparate focal points in the mix?

Well, we really wanted to give each vocalist space for their own style to come through. We’d start each track from scratch, together, rather than just send them a beat. But at the same time, we’ve been producing together, and separately, for a good few years prior to forming Gorgon City, so I hope that we’re able to put our own style on there. The beats and the basslines, I think those are ours, within our type of music. We spend a long time on our productions, and I think that cements the whole thing together.

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You can tell the kids who... think they’re gonna make money as a superstar DJ. They sound so stale, so fast…

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Do you have to be careful to not be too generic with house? Because it is still going through a revival, and there are new records today that sound as if they could have come out in the early 1990s. Do you find yourself scrapping things that feel too throwback, in favour of pursuing a contemporary approach?

That’s definitely true, of the music spanning years. I was just listening to the DJ Harvey Essential Mix from 1999 (which you can listen to here), and on that a lot of the tracks were old – but they wouldn’t sound out of place now. I mean, half of what is in the chart at the moment sounds like 1990s house records. It’s cool to be a part of this revival, this new scene, but at the same time you don’t want to go too far down the nostalgic route. I think we’ve absorbed more influences over the years than just 1990s house and garage – I grew up on all kinds of music. I was into drum ‘n’ bass, and I had plenty of indie.

If you go to Ibiza, the house they’re playing there isn’t all ’90s style. There’s a lot of techno, and tech-house, and we wanted to have some of that in there, on the album. Like, the Katy B track, ‘Lover Like You’, that’s got a real techno influence in the drums. The Erik Hassle track, ‘FTPA’, is more R&B-influenced, while one we did with Tish Hyman, ‘6AM’, has more of a jackin’ house vibe. We really didn’t want to sound like everything else going on, and hopefully we’ve managed that.

As there’s so much house about, is it harder than ever for quality to stand out amongst the masses? Can a young talent be lost, because the nuances they’re exhibiting are too subtle for all but the most trained ears to detect?

I think that’s always been difficult, but it’s only getting more so. Kids today can just pick up a laptop and some pirated software and have a go at making house music. It wasn’t that way just a few years ago. But you can tell the kids who are just tuned into these genres and want to catch onto that train and they think they’re gonna make money as a superstar DJ. You can tell if someone is straight-up copying what is going on – they sound so stale, so fast.

You guys, presumably, can tell when another artist is just chasing that on-trend money?

I think so. A few years ago, I found myself with a real creative block, and I tried to make music that I thought was cool, that was trendy. But that did my head in, in the end, as I was making this soulless music that I really wasn’t happy with. It was only after I got through that, when I started making music that I wanted to, that I could make sense of it all again. You can hear when a producer has enjoyed making something, as it does stand out. There are novelty tracks that get big, and get into the charts, but if you’re being true to yourself that will carry you through.

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‘Ready For Your Love’, feat. MNEK, from ‘Sirens’

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With the variety on the album, who do you see ‘Sirens’ as being for? You’ve had the chart hits – so does that make you want to create music that people can enjoy in their cars, and their kitchens? Or is the main focus on the clubs?

Matt and me, when we started producing at 14 or whatever, we’ve been focused on the dancefloor, and usually without vocals. But the success we had with ‘Real’ and ‘Ready For Your Love’ did give us the opportunity to try something new, which was a cool challenge for us. These are songs, not just club tracks, and we are trying to appeal to a wide audience. And you never know, maybe these songs will move some people into club music, like it’ll be their way into it. It has to sound good in a kitchen! I think we’re excited about that concept – but at the same time we’re still DJing a lot, and writing club music, and hopefully in the near future we’ll release some EPs or tracks just for the clubs. I’ll never get bored of doing that kind of music. But right now, I want to do both.

It’s been mad, after ‘Ready For Your Love’. There have been a lot of mad moments. Getting in the chart, and doing Jools Holland, and I’ll never forget doing the Radio 1 Big Weekender this summer. I never foresaw any of this when we started Gorgon City. It’s been really enjoyable. There’s been a lot of experimenting on this album, with all the co-writes. It’s been cool, and we’ve learned a lot. And, probably most importantly, we’re really happy with it.

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Words: Mike Diver

Gorgon City are online here. ‘Sirens’ (review) is released on October 6th - iTunes link.

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