CMJ 2013: Duologue Reveal New York City Favorites
This time last year, Duologue were somewhat under the radar — just one of the hundreds of bands thrown in your face during CMJ. But this year, the London-based quintet, named after a theatrical term for a conversation between two characters, arrive in the Big Apple with some notoriety, and they earned prime spots in one of the Communion showcases, as well as on the Music Is GREAT Britain event held by Ben Sherman and the British Consulate of New York on Wednesday (Oct. 16).
With their album ‘Song and Dance’ due out next week (Oct. 22), this folk-meets-electro group wants to show its more than just your average band with some electronic gadgets. Decked out in Ben Sherman attire for their showcase at the Box, frontman Tim Digby-Bell and violinist Seb Dilleyston (both pictured above) had a moment after sound check to sit down with Diffuser.fm over coffee and milkshakes at the Bowery Dinner and chat about their upcoming LP, performing at CMJ and why they love New York City.
How did the band get together?
TDB: We all met in university. Toby [Leeming] and I started writing together and realized we liked the same music. Then we started messing around and trying to learn how to program and make beats. We both learned two different programs. So we started messing around with that and then let the songwriting work hand-in-hand with it and just become better producers. We’re into two different styles in the sense that Tobs is into that Detroit classic synths sounds, and I was messing around with electronica. So it was quite nice to blend those two things, and it was quite nice to find a place for both of them on the album.
SD: It’s kind of like organic sounds.
How did you decide to take this approach in the music?
TDB: Well, it went hand-in-hand. We never set out to just say, “Let’s just throw instruments in there.” We never thought of it as one thing or the other. It’s all the same really. The songwriting and the beats work hand-in-hand.
SD: Particularly that is why I love playing in the band. Being a violinist, you play other people’s music, sheet music. But for me, I get to be part of the process and actually write our own stuff, which generally not the thing for most violinists. We play stuff by classical and romantic composers.
Electronic music is big in the U.S. but it’s consistently been a huge scene in the U.K. So how do you set yourself apart from the rest?
SD: I think there is a distinction between electronic and electro, and I think electro is so much at the heart of the story, of the song, and there’s also the musicality and the melodies and all of that. It’s really at the heart of everything we do.
TDB: For us, it wasn’t about fitting into a scene or feeding off a scene really. We have played around London and haven’t seen a band like us technically, with the same set up. And we don’t intend for the [music] to be danced to, [but] you can if you want. We intend for the songs to be listened to. The majority of the bands I’ve seen over the past few years who do electro mean to make everyone dance. But that’s not us all. And the best part about being technical and playing with electro is that we can draw many different influences and take our instruments where we want.
How has your CMJ experience been so far?
TDB: We played last year. And now we’re back, and it’s great. We played a radio show, and we loved the Communion show. Communion Records have been so good to us, and it’s nice to see their support and interest. And we’re playing a show in someone’s living room and is a little more acoustic. And we were just saying that if you strip the songs back and take heavy electronic sounds out, they’re actually like folk songs at the heart. That’s what I used to — play guitar and do the singer-songwriter stuff.
Since it’s not your first time in New York, what are your go-to spots to visit, eat and enjoy?
TDB: Nom Wah dumplings!
SD: Oh my god, they’re amazing, and I’m not a massive Asian food fan. But these dumplings are incredible. And Fat Cat’s. We’ve been there every time we’re here.
TDB: It’s one of the best places on earth, really. We love to play pool and table tennis and shuffle board. And Fat Cat’s has that with a…
Together: …jazz band. So that’s just…
SD: And the bowling place.
TDB: Gutter? That’s one of our staples. And the Russian spas. The sauna there is the hottest that’s highest you can get.
SD: I like eating slices of pizza. New York has amazing pizza.