Harry and Robbie were in rather good spirits considering that they'd been woken up early on a Monday morning to talk music. Their debut album as Akase was released last week and to a positive critical reception, it had been some four years in the making.
Harry is largely known for producing music under his Midland guise, which has seen him release for a variety of labels and led to him travelling the world playing records in clubs. Robbie Redway is a singer and solo artist in his own right. The pair explain how they met at clubs and parties during their time at university in Leeds. They would chat about the possibility of getting into the studio together but such conversations often amount to very little when it comes to fruition. Robbie explains how it finally fell into place.
"Once everyone did the whole migration to London, we did too. We ended up sporadically meeting up a few times over the course of about six months, made three or four tracks together and then just decided it was something that we wanted to delve deeper into."
Harry expands upon this.
"Because it was developing over the course of two years, before we were even thinking of it as an album project, we were exploring all sorts of different avenues. If you listen to any of our old demos they can be anything from Ambient Trumpet pieces to Kavinsky-esque electronic pieces. So I feel like when we finally decided on where we were more going to be focusing, it wasn’t anywhere near as broad."
It is interesting to see the relationship which exists between the pair as they come from the same background but independently have both operated in quite different spheres. Robbie explains his fascination towards the world of music production.
"Well I’d always wanted to expand my palette in terms of production and all that sort of stuff. I don’t learn very easily from when I just read books or watch YouTube tutorials, but I found it really insightful to watch Harry just do his thing and learnt a hell of a lot through that. I’ve always loved electronic music, but I’ve always just found myself in bands where it’s more guitar or acoustic instrument based. So to sit in with Harry and have some fun with it was really fun. The first few studio sessions we had, there was absolutely no agenda."
"Democratic" is a term which the pair use to describe their working process. The album was recorded as a joint project in every sense, each track was produced whilst the pair were together, there was no exchange of ideas over email or independent work. It is a musical collaboration in the truest sense.
The pair owe a lot to the assistance of Ewan Pearson who helped polish and master the record. Harry laughs as he explains how they "bonded over one of the nicest desserts in Berlin". Robbie fondly agrees that his influence was vital to the project.
"For both of our musical education it was a really valuable experience spending time with him."
"And we got to hang out in Berlin! We would spend every weekend in Panorama Bar if we could."
The coming months will see the pair play a selective number of live shows across multiple countries but they both emphasise the importance of selection and personal relevance in the shows which they choose to perform.
Harry pays particular reference to the risk of over exposure.
"We’re just doing a few shows around the album release to try and gauge interest. Sometimes I feel that when acts are emerging it is quite forced. Who is this person? How did they get 100,000 Facebook likes in a few months? Once the album is out and we’ve done a couple of shows it will make more sense to start plugging after that. But we’ve got a few shows coming up, like in Belgium with Holden and Floating Points. We’ve done about seven or eight live shows, but we’ve been practicing a lot. We are actually quite match fit."
The attitude of the pair towards the situation is one of maturity and awareness. They both know how all of this works and the risks associated with beginning down the whirlwind path of launching a new musical project. Robbie highlights this.
"If we do a proper tour of bigger venues, then we really want to do it justice. It’s really important to get a few smaller, low-key shows up your belt first. You don’t want to be developing the live set as you’re touring."
Harry nods in agreement and concludes confidently.
"It will develop, but we just really want the foundations of it to be really strong."