Abandoned Berlin buildings and 808 drums – a convo with Band Spectra

Band Spectra is an electronic, experimental project from Chichester (UK). The blend of motorik beats, psychedelic rock and electronic music recalls avant-garde influences, such as Neu!, La Dusseldorf, M83 and William Bassinski’s The disintegration loops.
The latest work called ‘Thule’, released last Friday, is the follow up to debut single ‘Pigeon’, featured on BBC 6 Music. ‘Thule’ is heavily inspired by late 1970s and early 1980s German experimental rock & electronic bands.

“Imagine yourself walking past disused buildings through Berlin in 1983 and hearing the cacophony of analogue synthesizers battling against 808 drums.

YMX: Can you tell us about yourself as an artist? Where are you now, how you started, and what are your goals.

BAND SPECTRA: Band Spectra is actually a side project born from the space my other band Cold, cold heart has left whilst we wait for time and distance to reunite us. A project born solely out of my love of synths and my overriding desire to impress my (electronic music loving) wife Kate. Where Cold, cold heart revel in space and ambience, I always wanted Band Spectra to be contradictory, paradoxical even. Having spent the early embers of 2020 learning to play synthesisers, program drums and compose upbeat music, everything changed when I stumbled upon the song ‘Pigeon’, my debut. I managed to find a like-minded (and now long term) producer Dave Sanderson (65 Days of static etc.) and proceeded to release without fanfare, only to receive glowing words and national radio play from Gideon Coe on BBC 6 Music. As a disabled artist (with multiple sclerosis) music has always been a form of escapism, therapy even, so I have never given a moment’s thought to any goals.

YMX: Some of our readers might not be familiar with you yet, how would you describe your sound?

BAND SPECTRA: Recently my song ‘Thule’ was described as “imagine yourself walking through Berlin in 1983 and hearing the cacophony of analogue synthesizers battling against a Roland 808”. I like this. Currently Band Spectra is nothing more than various analogue synthesizers (currently 4) accompanied with (mostly) motorik beats. Things will progress further with time, I am currently working with the bassist from a well-known and much loved English electronic band for a later song and continually hoping to find that perfect vocalist to collaborate with, but for now, I would very much describe myself as a synth driven, experimental project with blended elements of psychedelic rock and early 80’s electronic music.

YMX: Who have been your biggest influences so far?

BAND SPECTRA: I am fairly new to electronic and upbeat music, so I am still finding influence daily. There are the obvious influences like Neu! and La Düsseldorf, these I believe form the solid foundation of Band Spectra, but further to that, New Order, OMD, LCD Soundsystem, Hot Chip, Moderat, Daniel Avery, they all inspire me.

YMX: You recently released ‘Thule’. Can you tell us how that project came about?

BAND SPECTRA: ‘Thule’ was one of those songs that just appear quickly without any thought or design. I had just received a new Synthesizer (Korg Volca Keys) and was experimenting with sounds. I knew instantly I had stumbled on the follow up to ‘Pigeon’ and sent to Dave (producer/mixer) with great excitement. The beauty of working closely with someone you completely respect is that he received the song, heard something quite different and stripped the song right back, removing layers & layers of synths until just the shell was left. What you hear now is Dave’s interpretation and I have to say, he was completely right.

YMX: 2020 has been a hard year for everybody, but the music industry and arts in general took a heavy hit. How did you cope with that, musically speaking?

BAND SPECTRA: Despite my disability rendering me vulnerable to the world outside, I consider myself very lucky. Band Spectra is just me and therefore I hid from the world with just my wife Kate and children by the sea. I setup a proper studio, purchased various cheap second hand synthesizers and spent a lot of time developing my sound through trial and error. I think at one point I was writing a song a day, I certainly have a bottleneck of songs I need to get finished with Dave.

YMX: Do you consider important working together in a team, or do you prefer working alone? 

BAND SPECTRA: I am normally used to working with 3 others in Cold, cold heart and much prefer it, bouncing ideas of each other, feeding off excitement from others. I struggle working alone so it is important I have Kate and Dave, I instantly know if I have something worth developing when Kate hears from the first time, her immediate reaction is everything.

YMX: What are you looking for, in terms of promotion? What do you think could be helpful to promote your music around?

BAND SPECTRA: It is just nice for anyone to hear something you have spent a lot of time on, locked away endlessly questioning every aspect. I consider myself very lucky to have received national airplay on BBC Radio 6 Music, it is hard to gain any traction with (mostly) instrumental music, so when someone gives any form of interest or exposure, no matter how small it feels incredible.

YMX: What does playing live represent for you? a way to make yourself known or a way to express yourself?

BAND SPECTRA: Band Spectra, like Cold, cold heart is a studio project with no current plans to perform live. This may change, who knows what the future will bring. Being an artist with a disability certainly brings massive complications to this, but if an opportunity ever presented itself I certainly wouldn’t let it hold me back.

YMX: Finally, what are your plans for the future? (releases, gigs etc.)

BAND SPECTRA: I have already finished my next song and is with Dave just waiting to be mixed, this in his opinion is by far and away the best thing I have done to date and to quote him “It reminds me of lots classic stuff I love such as some later Tangerine Dream tracks, Kraftwerk and even some John Carpenter moments too”. Further to this I have the song which I mentioned above currently being worked on, for this I need to find a female singer. So if all goes to plan I hope to release at least one other song before the end of year.