Those who have witnessed the intensity of an Ulrika Spacek live show will be fully aware of how mesmerising and transportive their gigs can be. Furthermore, like their debut LP, the London-based band have managed to retain this unique melodically-inclined kraut on record for Modern English Decoration – a phenomenal sophomore effort that picks up where they left off on The Album Paranoia. I caught up with Joseph Stone to speak about the recording process and what the future plans are for the five-piece.
Can you give us a brief history of the band and how it was formed?
Rhys and I started making music together after a while of not seeing each other, around this time we invited other friends to become involved. We put out our first record The Album Paranoia in February 2016 and our second record Modern English Decoration is released next month.
How would you describe your music?
Quite hard for us to articulate it. We want to make music that sounds interesting to us. We use guitars predominantly to write songs but hope that it is guitar music that has a lot of dynamics and texture. We love making records, and love records that go many different places. We'd like to think there are different sides to our music.
The new album sounds brilliant, how old are the songs and what was the recording process?
Thanks very much. We began recording it in our living room pretty much after writing our first record, which was summer 2015. We then finished it off last summer in between festivals. The recording process is often putting together snippets of ideas, twisting and bending them into shape. Quite often we find the 'song' a little later in the process, rather than writing it first and then fleshing it out.
Your live shows encompass a lot of visuals which really adds to the overall spectacle, who is in charge of this aspect?
It's collaboration with our driver, tour manager and friend – 'AND.' We source the projection footage and then he manipulates it in real time and creates wormholes. It's a very important side of our band, and it has been from the start, it's nice to have seen it develop over time.
Are you conscious of how the tracks will sound live when you’re in the studio? The krautrock beat is a staple of your music and always seems to add a hypnotic motoric flow to your gigs.
Can't say we do particularly, on the first two records we have recorded as we have written so up to now it hasn't been a 'rehearse the song then record it' type of thing. For most songs we have to work out how to play them live after we have made the song; that said, a few songs we started working out how to play live a little earlier this time, that's how some parts that made it onto the record were written.
The album seems to have a whole spectrum of un–relatable influences running through it, which come together brilliantly. Can you pinpoint specific ones?
Think the year leading up to writing it we were listening to quite a bit of Women as well as Stereolab and Broadcast. When you are making a record you end up listening to your songs a lot. KEN, where we live, has been a major influence in that we have a shared house where we can make records. It affords you a lot of time to think about the tracks, build them when there needs building and leaving things as they are when they are ready. That living room and that record go hand in hand.
Is there a particular process that your songwriting goes through when crafting the tracks?
We often write with a drum machine at the start. We also have an ethos of working quick when it comes to tracking, it's nice to capture that feeling that you don't quite know what you're doing and where you're going. It adds something. The idea of practicing and practicing a part before tracking is not appealing. You suck all life out of it.
What does the next 12-18 months have in store for the band?
We release the record in June, we'll start off with playing a few independent record stores, then we will be playing festivals all summer then we will do a UK/European headline tour in September/October. Then it's just a matter of staying on the road for a while, hopefully a nice support tour at some point as well.
If you could work with any artist, who would it be and what would they bring to ?Ulrika Spacek?
We would love to work with Geoff Barrow, we wouldn't have any preconceptions about what he would bring. Guess it's all down to a matter of taste, and we like nearly everything he has done.
What music are you listening to at the moment? Are there any bands on your label that we should listen out for?
Currently listening to Cate Le Bon's record Mug Museum, few guys in the band enjoyed that a while back so I’m a bit late to the party, but the first five song run on that record is superb. In terms of Tough Love, I really enjoyed Brooch's debut 7" they put out. That project is a collaboration between Ben from Ought and Mikkel from Yung. Believe they are making a full length soon.
Is there a particular ethos that drives you as a band?
To create our own little world and to be happy about everything we put our name to.
What is your relationship with the city of Brighton? I caught your secret gig at The Great Escape last year and it was one of my highlights of the whole weekend.
Brighton has been great for our band, without doubt one of our favourite places to play in the UK. We have fond memories of shows there. We look forward to returning.