Rhian Daly 10/01/2011
Smog stained derelict buildings, cavernous warehouses and dingy, odious subways. This is the London Breton inhabit, the London they reflect in their eerie, urban atmospherics. It's a sound that couldn't be from anywhere but the capital, one that betrays the city-as-lifeblood in the same way early dubstep did.
“Until about 3 or 4 months ago, we hadn't played anywhere except in London, so we're kind of put out of context when we play in Manchester and Brighton and all these places. I realised it did sound - maybe not so much London - but more New Cross... Maybe even more specifically, a bit of a road. Two pubs in New Cross, two bus stops. We sound like that scene there,” jokes Roman Rappak from across the table. We're sat in the kitchen of a warehouse - fittingly enough - in South East London, where Breton live, work and practice, attempting to make sense of the band's story so far.
“We were auditioning for a band, technically, if auditioning means this guy called us and said 'Play some music in a room and, if you're not shit, you can be in my band.' We turned out to be shit so we formed our own band,” explains Roman of the group's origins, the we he refers to encompassing himself and the man next to him, drummer Adam Ainger. What is anonymous audtionee's loss, though, is our gain as, seeking inspiration from Angular Recording Corporation and bands like The Fucks, the pair set about triggering “loads of weird loops” and following everyone else in doing whatever the hell they wanted.
Fast forward a couple of years to the Breton that exists now and you'll find they've doubled in size (Ian Patterson and Daniel McIlvenny now having joined the ranks) and started writing “proper songs” (“If they are proper songs,” Roman adds cautiously). Portholes into Breton's world, these tracks are complex, multi-layered audio journeys that hop from one genre to the next, backing up the band's claims of stylistic ADHD. They're housed on discs that are more than just something to play, more than a means to an end but unique and innovative artworks that add value to the music in this increasingly throwaway digital culture; the cover for debut EP 'Practical' was hand painted by the band whilst last release 'Sharing Notes' saw the boys build synth circuitboards from scratch.
“That was about the fact that the internet exists so we can learn anything and there's this unifying element to music now, where it's distributed in a way that anybody can have it instantly,” they say of the reasons behind the DIY instruments.
“It's a different way of communicating ideas to people. We only learnt how to [make] it because we googled it. It's meant to [represent] the idea that all this technology is meant to level everyone, it's not meant to be 'this person can do this thing and someone else can't.'”
Plans to do something equally creative for the recently released 'Counter Balance' EP have been put on hold for something a bit different, though. Hemlock, the home to the debut single from 2011's rising star James Blake, have snapped Breton up for the label's tenth release and, as Roman explains, there's a strict style to their works:
“All their stuff is in the same kind of covers, which I find really cool cos it's all this mental, really difficult electro and then there's us at the end of it. Compared to the stuff they put out, we're like a pop band. Even the things I find that we do that loses most people, to them it's like Lady GaGa.”
'Counter Balance' might not come with a make-your-own theremin kit or whatever other madness the boys have up their collective sleeve, but Hemlock's interest is easily “the most flattering thing that's ever happened to Breton”, even if they're still not quite sure what the motives are behind the release.
“I can't work out if it's Untold [producer and Hemlock founder] being very brave and pushing whatever boundaries he's set himself, or maybe he's insane. The tracks he makes are pretty mad, they're incredible. He's a genius, I think. Officially a genius.”
So, with a genius on board, where do Breton go from here? Whilst they'll be carrying on the work of bretonLABS (the band's sidearm of remixes and music videos), an album is the main focus - one that they've got very specific ideas about.
“The aim is that none of the stuff we've put out already will be on the album, it'll be all new songs,” asserts Roman. “I think it's important just because the turnaround with songs should be quicker. That's the price you have to pay for all this technology making everything super quick and making it so anyone can write a song.”
Blaming their aforementioned ADHD on the internet's power of taking you from “Norwegian minimal house one minute to weird garage rock from Sheffield” the next, it remains to be heard how Breton will mould their ever-changing influences into a lengthier, but equally as consistent, record. One thing's for sure - it'll be resolutely SE14 and exhilaratingly original.