We met the incongruous duo in the Cobalt Studios, Ouseburn, in a room with a pink hue, Persian-esque light hangings and full of potted plants of various sizes. The flamboyant setting seemed very apt considering the wildly different appearances of the duo, The Correspondents breadth of musical genres, and their colorful live performances.
The Correspondents are often described as ‘Electro-swing,’ but Mr. Bruce and DJ Chucks shy away from this categorisation. When asked what genre The Correspondents are, Mr. Bruce said simply, ‘”Multi,” with Chucks adding, “It covers Electronica really but the most differentiating thing about our music is it’s jazz influences.” It is this mix of new and old musical patterns that create the undefeatable urge to dance when listening to their music. The great Steve Lamacq from BBC6 rightly concluded, ‘Every time I think I’ve deduced what The Correspondents sound like, they start sounding like something different.’ One only needs to listen to the bouncy ‘Fear and Delight,’ in comparison to the somber ‘Alarm Calls,’ to see the duo have an eclectic range of sounds.
“The pair are a cool and cosmopolitan duo, with incredibly interesting answers to the questions we fired at them”
The band are famed for their live shows but we wondered if they felt pressured to make more conventional music that’s perhaps more accessible for online listeners. The quick-witted Chucks instantly had an answer for this question: “It’s tricky because we’ve spent most of our lives meeting women in clubs and that’s all we want to write songs about…” Mr. Bruce, after warning Chucks about using irony in written interviews, said “I think since ‘Washington Square’ which we wrote eight years ago, that I’ve just got better at writing. I’m more conscious about a verse and chorus now but I’m not sure if I’m doing that consciously to sound better on radio.” The pair made it clear that their ultimate desire was to simply make music that they want to make, conventional or not.
There are very few musicians while performing that move as much as Mr. Bruce; his flailing limbs and piercing eyes have hypnotized crowds, but he assures us that he doesn’t choreograph any of his dances on stage. “I don’t consciously think put this foot here and put this leg here but naturally, if I do a few shows all in the same period, I may sub-consciously do moves that I did in my first show because they worked.”
“They made it clear that their ultimate desire was to simply make music that they want to make, conventional or not”
Most festival goers will know the band, having seen them perform on a sunny afternoon at the likes of Secret Garden Party, Gottwood or Boomtown, to name just a few. It occurred to us that these are all festivals with druggy reputations and so we turned to Mr. Bruce and Chucks to see if they thought that recreational drug use had any correlation to experiencing their music. “Well I’ve never listened to my own music on drugs” Mr. Bruce quickly and rather wittily responded. Chucks went on to say that they simply find it annoying from their perspective if everyone is high and would rather everyone to be as alert and responsive as possible. Chucks amusingly concludes with his famous one liners, “Don’t do drugs kids!”.
As a listener, you always wonder where lyrics originate from and the inspiration behind them. Their song, ‘What’s happened to Soho?’ seems to be a protest piece about the district in London’s detox and its movement away from its infamous reputation. Mr. Bruce admits he wrote it because two of his favourite places got closed down, and we go on to discuss the changing nature of the area. The conversation brings us on to the topic of the nightclub Fabric in London’s recent closure, and the reasons behind it. Chucks says, “Fabric is part of a lot of Londoner’s souls” and decides it was just really where a group of thirty-somethings first went clubbing and now feel nostalgic about it. The danger they brought up was the fear of London turning into a too clean and urbanized centre, with all the grass-roots culture being pushed out to the edges.
The pair are a cool and cosmopolitan duo, with incredibly interesting answers to the questions we fired at them. From French cads as the story behind their name, to talking about Hitler and the Third Reich on drugs, and of course, their music in between, we could only hope that their show would live up to the weird and wonderful impression we got of the two; and boy did it beat it.
Jack Redley & Rosabel Crean