Manned by Gavin Miller and Thomas Ragsdale, the good ship worriedaboutsatan has produced its third bounty in the form of the Blank Tape LP, a collection ranging from airy openness to urgent Autechre-infused glitchcore, this time also adorned with vocal whispers. Their other voyages across the variably smooth and choppy waters of ambient electronica include output under the moniker of Ghosting Season, as well as eponymously. Their music has also accompanied films – Ragsdale wrote the soundtrack for 2014 zombie flick Before Dawn, Miller’s solo work features on Adam Curtis’s Bitter Lake and most recently the title track of their new album as worriedaboutsatan appears on Curtis’s acclaimed documentary, Hypernormalisation.
The pair took some time out to answer our questions ahead of the release of Blank Tape (25 Nov) and its launch gig at the Castle Hotel (28 Nov).
Having lived and made music in a couple of cities, how does your location and regular surroundings affect your musical mood or output?[Gavin:] It certainly helps. When we lived in Leeds, we had an abbey on our doorstep, so it made everything sound quite melancholic and serene, whereas when we moved to Manchester, it made everything a bit more rough around the edges and gave us a bit of grit, so they both really impacted on our sound in really good ways I think. We’ve both recently moved back to Yorkshire, so god knows what the new stuff will end up sounding like.
You’ve rubbed shoulders with Brian Cox and Charlotte Church backstage at Bluedot this year. What’s the best festival story you have?[Tom:] Haha, probably that one to be honest! Or what happened a few hours earlier – we were behind the stage in the artist area and the artist liaison was talking to us about Underworld (who were headlining). We mentioned that they were one of the reasons for us making the band originally, and then about 10 seconds later she had Karl Hyde over and chatting with us about music!
We’ve already heard music from your new album, Blank Tape, on Adam Curtis’s Hypernormalisation documentary. Was it written with the images in mind or did it naturally fit in? What was your working process for that like?[Gavin:] Ah, the record had quite a strange and long history, but we always do things with these little visions in mind, but nothing like, “Oh yeah, this is gonna look great next to footage of banks,” or something, that Adam always puts our stuff next to. It’s more of a feel, or an atmosphere we’re trying to get across, rather than straight up images. As for Hypernormalisation, Adam’s just a fan of our music, so is always keen to hear new stuff. We send it down to him and he picks out little bits that interest him.
What is your view on the themes of the film and how Curtis sees the world?[Tom:] It’s definitely something we have an active interest in, which made the whole experience of working with him so much more incredible. I don’t think he is as ‘doom and gloom’ as people make him out to be. I think it’s just a very personal and informative way of presenting information. But yeah, on the whole we’re not fans of fascism and global tyrants!
From hearing a snippet, Blank Tape seems more airy and spacious than your other satan output. What can we expect from the rest of the album?[Gavin:] It’s a bit of a mix, really. But then again most of our stuff is. We can never really sit down and stay in one place for too long, as we just get bored, so this record is a nice little cross section of everything we do as worriedaboutsatan I think. There’s a lot of 4/4 kicks, weird atmospheres, drones, vocals, cut up samples… the lot!
Blank Tapes is released via worriedaboutsatan’s label, This Is It Forever, on Friday 25 November, 2016, ahead of the album launch show at Castle Hotel on Monday 28 November, 2016.