24 Mar Inner Varnika 2016 – An Interview with Albrecht La’Brooy
Sean La’Brooy and Alex Albrecht make up Albrecht La’Brooy. No prizes for guessing how they came up with the name. Certain medals are in order, however, for these two talented muscians who have been putting on some of Melbourne’s finest live electronic music, running the carefully-curated record label Analogue Attic Recordings. They’ve also put out an album or two – ‘Good Morning Passengers’ and ‘Edgewater Towers’.
Their first release ‘Good Morning Passengers’ is a journey. Rattling along the Belgrave line from the bustle of Flinders Street station all the way towards the peaceful ferns of the Dandenong Ranges, you can trace the narrative of Albrecht La’Brooy’s music quite clearly. Electronic music is often criticsed from an outsider’s perspectve as being unimaginative, repetitive, and lacking any deeper meaning. Burial was one of the first artists that proved me wrong in this regard, demonstrating that lyrics were by no means the only conduit for a musician’s narrative, and Albrecht La’Brooy are another set of artists that drive this point home. We spoke to them about their label, inspirations and why people might think that techno music is ‘boring’.
Sam Chesbrough: Now, the name Albrecht La’Brooy is quite straightforward. Can you explain maybe the name of your record label Analogue Attic Recordings?
Sean La’Brooy: We threw a couple of parties at a place on Gertrude St that had a little upstairs room and the name we came up with for it was ‘Analogue Attic’.
Analogue Attic Recording has a very distinctive aesthetic. You’ve got lots of film photography of local spots matched with a showcase of various Melbourne artists, so it seems you two are very dedicated to promoting Melbourne’s burgeoning music scene?
Alex Albrecht: We wanted to do an art and music combination, so we would have some of the photographers influence some of the music. We came up with a set of core values that we wanted to have with every release, that’s why the aesethetic is so strong. One of them was that we were only going to release Australian music.
Sean: We just thought we would focus on being ourselves and releasing music with people we have relationships with. Rather than ‘who’s the biggest name we can pull to sell records?’, let’s actually do something that involves us. The imagery we use comes from places that mean something to us rather than some trendy building in Berlin.
‘Good Morning Passengers’ centres around life on the Belgrave line. What draws you to the idea of a train line when it comes to making an album?
Sean: I was just thinking how different places that are so close to each other are. For example, you can work all day in Richmond and go home to Tecoma. We just liked the idea of exploring that difference.
Alex: I lived in Richmond at the time and my friend lived in Tecoma, and he was always telling me about the beautiful rainforests. We looked at the Belgrave line and it’s got Box Hill and its cultural diversity, and Cantebury which is another different suburban location. We just wanted to look at those four stops and take recordings from them all and use them as inspiration.
Any plans for taking Albrecht La’Brooy overseas?
Alex: Absolutely, we would love to do that, it just a matter of teeing it up. There are a few places that stock our records overseas and have been really supportive.
And the dream destination?
Sean: Japan, definitely.
Now you guys are heavily involved in Melbourne’s electronic music scene, what are your thoughts on current state of affairs and who should we keep an eye out for?
Sean: There’s always been people doing greating things in Melbourne, but it’s always going to be different here because you don’t have the same volume of artists and people who are really interested in that sort of music – you don’t have that same volume of population to begin with. I certainly think that there’s a lot of really creative, forward-thinking, world-class musicians. I saw Mosam Howieson play on the weekend and it was mind-blowing, one of the best sets I’ve seen. You’re often seeing sets that are that good by Cale Sexton, or Rory McPike aka Dan White, or Sleep D. Its an interesting thing because we are so isolated, it’s not an easy thing for someone in Europe to bring someone out from Australia.
Alex: We’ve also been into jazz for a really long time, so there’s that as an influence too. Which Way Music is doing some great stuff at the moment.
When it comes to an international level, which artists out there inspire you guys?
Sean: Johhny Nash I’ve been into a lot recently. A lot of the guys in Japan; Tominori Hosoya, Kuniyuki Takahashi and miniluv.
Alex: Terre Thaemlitz aka DJ Sprinkles. Everything from the ambient albums, to the experimental stuff, to the house music. All of it I just find amazing. There’s a deeper meaning, it’s very intellectualised, there’s a lot of meaning behind everything.
You guys mentioned the jazz label Which Way Music before and, as I understand it, you also have quite a strong classical background. How does this jazz influence play into your music?
Sean: People love to say that we have a classical background because it sounds very romantic, but the truth of it is I have a degree in jazz, I studied jazz for a number of years, and Alex always played a fair bit of jazz.
A publication who shall remain nameless recently put out an article on how live techno sets are boring. Now, having watched you guys play at Butter Sessions showcases, Daydreams, etc. I would disagree. What would you say to people out there who don’t ‘get’ live performance electronic music?
Sean: I think if people don’t like it that’s fine, they might be into other things. They might not have seen any good performances either, they might not know the difference between someone playing live and someone DJing – there is not a lot of transparency in electronic music. If you ask a random punter whats going on they probably won’t know. What they don’t realise is a lot of the records they are listening to when they are listening to a DJ are made of excerpts of different live sets.
How does your classical training factor into your music? When it comes to performing do you miss the unquantized nature of live instruments, or do you prefer the security of working with quantized, set rhythms with analogue synths.
Sean: I find it very similar, in that there is a lot of improvisation. We go into our performance with very little recorded; we basically just feel the vibe of the party and we just play from there.
What shows are coming up that you’re excited for?
Sean: Inner Varnika next weekend and Noise In My Head in April. We’re also planning a few more interesting gigs later on in the year, and they will probably be through Analogue Attic.
Catch Albrecht La’Brooy at Inner Varnika amongst a star-studded lineup featuring VRIL, Sex Tags, Jamie 3:26, Lee Gamble, Throwing Shade, Brian Not Brian, Mo Kolours and many, many more.