Tue. Sep 29th, 2020

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Interview: The Ting Tings

8 min read

With hugely successful singles under their belt in the shape of That’s Not My Name, Great DJ and Shut Up And Let Me Go from their 2008 debut album We Started Nothing, The Tings Tings, made up of Katie White and Jules De Martino, have turned out several tight releases over the past 6 years and have solidified their place as one of the UK’s finest British indie rock exports.

The band recently made a successful transition from major label duo to independent act and unveiled album number 3, Super Critical. Showing fans that they are here to stay, the bands signature indie punk sound has been mixed with nostalgic disco beats and dancefloor-esque numbers as heard on tracks like the infectious Wrong Club and Do It Again.

Currently on tour throughout North America, playing live music hotspots around the country including shows in San Fransisco. Los Angeles and New York, we caught up with Katie and Jules to discuss the creative process behind Super Critical and their current run through the States. Here is what they had to tell us:

Brendon Veevers: How are you both doing?

The Ting Tings: We’re good thanks Brendon.

The Ting Tings Super CriticalBV: The new album is called Super Critical – why did you decide to go with that title and what’s the meaning behind it for the band?

The Ting Tings: It was the name of a strand of weed in the studio we were recording at in Ibiza. That and Green Poison made titles for tracks and then onto the album. Super Critical become the title track, the word jumped out and reflected the world we live in. Looks pretty funk’d up too.

BV: Would you say that you are super critical when you enter the recording studio to record a new album or sitting down to write a new collection is the process of putting a Ting Tings album much more spontaneous when it comes down to it?

The Ting Tings: Spontaneous! We hate planning a session or writing in a traditional sense. It’s all about vibe and the need for tunes and textures and sounds. Though we’re always SC about the records we make often deconstructing finished material time and time again. We’re still working on album 1.

BV: Aside from the fact that the new album has brand new songs, what would you say are the key differences between Super Critical to previous Ting Tings releases?

The Ting Tings: Each record we make will be different from the last in direction and approach. As a band we have found identity in change. The way we listen to music today makes us feel that we do not have to be locked in a style forever. Fashion is fused, music is explored. Punks are listening to soul, Rockers to hip hop and so forth. As long as there’s tunes we can fill in the gaps accordingly. Key differences here…. funk and disco.

BV: What would you say influenced you the most during the writing and recording of Super Critical? Where did the ideas flow from?

The Ting Tings: We were influenced by studio 54, late 70s/early 80s merge of disco/new wave/punk. Early Madonna, Prince, Chaka Khan… During the demo process, we found Wrong Club and messaged our distant friend Nile Rogers who had invited us to perform on his stage at Montreal Jazz festival a year prior. We couldn’t make the show but kept in touch. We wanted him to hear the new music we were making as we were having an affair with his decade. All this prior to his success with Daft Punk. He asked us to send it on but we had already embarked on sessions with Andy Taylor from Duran who ended up co-producing the entire album. Taylor was heavily influenced by Rogers back in his day and each time we took our references to the studio, Andy would say “yeah love that, I was there.” It was an amazing eight months in the studio.

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BV: Are there any personal favourites on the new record for you both or individually and if so, what about the tracks make them so special or personal for you?

Jules : Do It Again, just walks through it effortlessly. When I put the bass down I was on cloud 9, punching the air on playback.

Katie: Wrong Club, disco upbeat with sad tones. The Smiths always put sad lyrics to up melodies. I love it that way.

BV: The record has a strong disco feel to it! Was it a conscious decision to incorporate disco into Super Critical or was it a natural progression for the sound of The Ting Tings?

The Ting Tings: Hmmm, once we started to feel inspired in Ibiza, then the vibe took us all the way, routing through our favourites online, imagining there was a club today like studio 54, that we would find it in Ibiza or somehow recreate it. Once we were in that mode, we became more conscious but prior to that we were as usual experimenting and floundering.

BV: Do you ever feel pressure as a band to shift with the latest trends in music?

The Ting Tings: Nah, we’ve never felt cool or relevant on the way in. Only our fans make us feel like it’s worthwhile. Making music is a challenge in itself, a challenge not to do the same thing twice. We’re not smart enough to jump a trend.

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BV: How do you feel about yourselves as a band and your place in the music industry with this new album?

The Ting Tings: Reaching album 3 makes us feel tight. Now with our own label on board and on PIAS USA (who have worked with some of our all time fav labels) we feel like we’ve found a moment again. Album 1 was fresh and naive, they always are. Album 2 a commercial pain. Album 3 we find ourselves in unchartered waters again, just how it should be. With the ever changing new world of music we feel we’re cleansed from yesterdays ways and luckily able to distance ourselves from the norm. It’s how we started out and our need to feel like a new band is unprecedented. Maybe we should change our band name and line up each record.

BV: What do you think it is about the two of you that makes The Ting Tings such a strong unit and together creating music after so many years?

The Ting Tings: We respect that if the two of us ever stray from the loyalty we have for each other, it’ll be done. Being only two, we have no other bandmates to smooth off the issues or edges. We can row, engage, push each other but we never cross the point of no return. We’ll never be swayed to step outside our bubble nor make any decisions independently. It’s always a joint fight. Then there’s our equal love for Talking Heads of course.

BV: Super Critical is your first release as an independent band. As the industry changes, this is something that is happening a lot more these days with acts deciding to part ways with major labels. How is life these days as an independent act and what changes were the biggest for you both in terms of how this record was put together?

The Ting Tings: We’ve always recorded our records independently. In six years signed to a major we visited their offices around 4 times. Each time bored the crap out of us. It’s no place for artists. So nothing really has changed there. However it is hard work dealing with more decisions alone that effect output and placement of our record. Kind of more objective at times rather than spontaneous. The great luck we had was finding that some of the great people that worked on our first album were finding our new album online and are working with us now. It’s like cutting out the bullshit and staying with the geniuses. It’s a slower journey but much more real.

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BV: You had enormous success with your first record thanks to singles like Shut Up And Let Me Go, Great DJ and That’s Not My Name. Is there a pressure from within the band or within the industry that you replicate that success on each of your singles or has the band moved past that point in their career where you can sit back and take things as they come?

The Ting Tings: That happened on album 2. You could sense that everyone standing around was waiting for 3 x That’s Not My Names, 4 Shut Ups and a few Great Dj’s for good measure. It just doesn’t work like if you’re a BAND that writes and produces and performs and that sent the pressure climbing faster than a rocket. We learned loads on album 2 but eventually stood firm and rode the perfect storm into album 3. We didn’t think we would make it but here we are happier than we’ve been in years. We’ve completed our difficult 2nd album and out the other end intact. Now we get to flow for this record before getting complicated again on 4, maybe in Nashville with Lindsay Buckingham co-producing… imagine that!

BV: You will be taking the album out on the road throughout the U.S with dates starting in January. What can fans in the U.S expect from these new shows?

The Ting Tings: We’re not a slick pop show, we mix it up live, we change arrangements and surprise ourselves. We’re spontaneous often messing up our live loops but it has to be free and not choreographed. We just finished a Euro/Uk/Japan tour and it was amazing. We have three albums to call on, gonna be USA wild.

BV: Will the show be theatrical or heavy on the props or will it be a much more stripped back and intimate affair?

The Ting Tings: It’s up and hot on stage. We have multiple instruments on stage and a dj up there too.

BV: Are there any dates or venues that you are particularly eager to play?

The Ting Tings: Hmmm, can’t wait for them all. Honestly, USA rocks for us.

The Ting Tings brand new album Super Critical is out now and the bands tour dates are below:

1/19 Toronto, ONT, Canada Virgin Mobile Mod Club
1/20 New York, NY Bowery Ballroom
1/21 Brooklyn, NY Rough Trade
1/23 San Francisco, CA Popscene @ Rickshaw Stop
1/24 Sacramento, CA Harlow’s
1/26 West Hollywood, CA Troubadour