In 2014 we found ourselves getting into a new compilation from Turbo Recordings. Put together by a couple of 21 year olds calling themselves Clouds, it purported to round up an entirely new scene, a world of roughneck Scottish techno that was bristly with bolshy static and breakbeat shrapnel. It was enough to have us interested – then, in May this year, the duo dropped Tannhauser Acid Works III, an explosive EP of clanking, stomping techno terror that had a playful bounce shooting through all that aggy kick drum – think of the face melting chemical bath that leaves the Joker with a permanent grin in Batman and you’re getting close. We wanted to know more. Where had they burst from? What’s this scene all about? As it turned out the answers weren’t quite what we were expecting…
How did you first meet?
Calum: We met at high school when we were about 14 years old, in the 2nd year of high school, through mutual friends, we just became friends, played football together, ate lunch together, I’m sure you know how high school works. But we didn’t start making music until a couple of years after that. We kind of messed around with a lot of different things – it wasn’t really making music it was more editing songs, making mash ups, or whatever it is you do when your that sort of age
Liam: You get really euro trance tracks, then you get loads and loads of acapellas, then take little snippets of them, there’s stuff on Youtube. That was when we first got music editing software and started really chopping stuff up- it wasn’t quite trance, it was more like Euro dance, almost like hard house. It wasn’t trance in the classic trance sound – it was a lot cheesier than that..
Calum: There wasn’t really a scene – as opposed to when you’re an adult there will be certain clubs, or certain venues, or places where people can go and hang out, this all happened on MSN, that was the home of this scene.
Liam: There were websites that would go up – everyone did it from their own home
Calum: No one went out anywhere. It was just everyone sitting indoors
Liam: You rarely met anyone else who did it but you all knew what they were up to anyway-
Calum: It was a bit weird actually. I guess it was just kids looking for something to do that was a bit creative, and they didn’t want to be seen as these nerdy arty people, you wanted to make something that you thought was really cool as well. It definitely wasn’t serious.
A year before we started Clouds we had another thing going on, which we had one release with – it wasn’t really a release, some guy managed to get it on Beatport, and we had one gig at Sneaky Pete’s in Edinburgh. That gig was in November 2009, then we started Clouds in the last days of 2009, round the 27th of December we made a Facebook and called it Clouds. We didn’t change the music we just changed the name really. The name of the project before was really stupid, no one listened to it
What was the name?
Calum: …. Disco Wizards (both crack up). So we changed the name and sent the music out and that’s how we got started.
Where are you guys based?
Calum: We’re from Perth, roughly an hour from Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Was there much opportunity to play out in Perth?
C: Not really. We played our first gig in this pool hall called Perth called the New Yorker, our friend put this night on, and we played one track and didn’t know how to use the decks. We’d been practicing on this three-in-one decks and mixer package, and when we got to this thing there was another set of decks there. We didn’t know how to use them, so we kinda played one track then ran off the decks. There was another club that had been shut for a while called the Ice Factory. It was mainly names like Judge Jules or something – that wasn’t open when we were coming up, it opened again in 2011 and we did something there. But there wasn’t really anywhere for us to play.
Liam: We made tunes first, then we got asked by Sticky Pete’s to come and DJ – at the time we didn’t really know how to DJ, so were like, nah, but give us 6 months and we’ll learn and come back to you. Cos that was the thing, they liked our tunes, but wanted us to DJ, and the two go hand in hand.
Over the years we’ve managed to pay the rent off DJing, which is what we’ve always wanted to do – because there’s two of us promoters have to pay for two flights and two hotel rooms and we have to split the fee, so we’ve managed to get to the point where people want to book us enough that we can afford it.
I first heard you on the Turbo compilation – your track was quite breakbeaty, where was the influence from?
Calum: We both got more into jungle, rave, drum n bass, whatever you want to call it, over the past two or three years. It wasn’t something that we paid much attention to growing up, we were more into Euro dance and hard style (laughing). Making electronic music you should listen to a lot of other electronic music, whether its jungle or drone or trance or whatever, especially stuff like that early jungle, drum n bass stuff that was really really important in bringing dance music to where it is now. So we started listening to it and got into it. In the time when that stuff was big we were 6. We were born in 1991, and between then and 1999 we obviously weren’t going out to raves, so we missed it all. And now with the internet you can go and check it all out, but it’s not the same, you can get all this stuff so easily. So we just wanted to try and make new tracks, and we thought let’s make something breaky, jungle-y cos that’s what we’ve been listening to.
I liked how that track suggested nostalgia – it had that slightly shitty sound quality, that grottiness that suggests listening on youtube, was that deliberate?
Liam: Oh it’s intentional. And you know all the tracks on the compilation were made by us.
What, they were all made by you?
Calum: Yeah, we just pretended that we had these friends that made these tunes. A lot of people from where we’re from guessed it, because there were these ridiculous names and stuff. All the people on the cover are just our pals. They don’t make music, we just asked if we could use photos on them to stick on this record, and they were all nice enough to let us. We’d just been making all these tracks, in experimenting with different sounds and we ended up thinking it might be fun to put them out as a compilation of various artists
Hahaha Did Turbo know they were all by you?
So they agreed to put out what is essentially your debut album-
C: Well no, we did an album back in 2013. But I wouldn’t call the Turbo thing an album. Contractually it is, but it’s not a Clouds album and no one should think of it as. It’s not how we’d write an album. It’s a compilation
It’s a compilation, but it’s all by you.
C: It’s an anthology of music by us between 2013 and 2014. The first album we rented a barn in the country in Scotland and went there for two weeks and wrote our album. That’s how we’d like to write our other albums as well, in a short space of time so they have their own sound, their own feel, so everything works together.
Do the two of you ever fight?
C: Well not really, we’ve got past that, because we used to live together for a while back in 2010. We lived together, worked together and had the same group of friends so we spent all our time together which was a bad idea. Now if we have a disagreement we know its stupid and put it in the past and carry on.
Now the crucial question: what have been your most spectacular personal injuries?
Liam: I fell out of a tree and broke my arm. I snapped it.
Calum: The only one that comes to mind, is I was walking along the top of a bench, you know those pebble dashed walls with the little stones in them, I slipped off the bench and smashed my face off one of those. I had to go to hospital and get it all stitched up, but the scar is the same shape as Harry Potter’s scar. It’s like a lightning bolt. I chipped my finger once as well, but that’s it. I’m quite a cautious person I think.
And what have you got coming up?
We’ve just had a track on the latest Opal Tapes compilation, it’s on the Opal Tapes bandcamp, its a really good compilation. We’ve got an EP coming out on Opal Tapes as well, that’s 5 tracks and coming out in the summer. After that, not much. We’re going to try and record some of our live stuff and edit that into tracks, but I don’t know where we’ll release it. It’s definitely techno. In the next couple of years we’re going to put out more techno. Everything we’ve been doing recently has been hardware based, we’ve been recording stuff in one take, then editing them into 5 or 6 minutes. Oh, and we’ve been working with some friends of ours that work at a label called Brothers. And we’ve done 5 or 6 tracks with them that’ll come out next year under the name Princess Mono. It’s all finished up, we just need to find someone to put it out…