For our fifth podcast we’ve invited Leeds’ leftfield band Vessels. They remixed Polynation’s single ‘Why You‘ on Atomnation and are currently preparing their new album + live show. We are very curious about everything that is going on with the band.
Hi Tom, Tim, Martin, Lee and Peter. Between touring and after you launched your magnificent album Dilate in 2015, you guys managed to remix our beloved Polynation. Can you tell the readers what you have been up to since then?
Martin: Hello! Since 2015, we mainly been working on new material for an album that is incredibly close to being finished. Feels quite unreal as it’s been quite an all-consuming process. We’re starting to re-interpret the album music for playing live at the moment which is always a big challenge, but it’s been really great to get stuck in. Literally cannot wait to play this music live. The Dilate album and tour was special for us in many ways, I have a feeling this next album will really be next level. I guess everyone always says that about their new album. But this time it’s definitely true, trust us.
Vessels is a truly amazing live experience. Can you tell something about your live setup and why it’s like that?
Lee: Well the setup has evolved over time. It’s all been very much a logistical problem solving experience. We make the sounds in the studio but we also jammed a lot of the ideas out so it was about trying to find the most flexible solution which allowed consistency of delivery but also the freedom to improvise. A lot of the percussion sounds are distributed between me, Tim and Martin across three Roland SPDS-X’s. We spend quite a bit of time figuring out who can play what elements of the beats. They have to be de-constructed so that patterns make more sense to the individual player.
In terms of the synths, we used to use some cheaper gear but recently we’ve added some rather tasty toys to the fray. Tom has an Elektron Analog Keys running through a Kaoss Pad 3. The Elektron stuff is great. Good quality and once you get into their way of thinking you can really perform with the gear in a way that other synths don’t let you. It also sounds super fat on the bottom end so we divvy up a lot of bass parts to it. My synth set up comprises of an original Ms20 which i’ve had in the setup for years. I think it was one of the influences to head in the direction we took. Back then though I smashed it through a Marshall stack along with my guitar. I miss that sound but my back doesn’t miss carrying around that bloody amp rig! Also, i’ve just added a Roland System 1m to my set up. I needed something that is polyphonic and super tweakable and this guy really does have a lot of possibilities. I bought it on a whim thinking it wouldn’t be that great as i’ve started to get into modular stuff and thought it was a little on the cheap and cheerful side. I’ve been happily proven wrong though and it’s become a real go to for sound design.
Our setup all goes through Ableton Live which provides the ability to sync all our stations and allows us to loop what ever we’re playing and it stays locked in nice and tight. We experimented a lot with this and we used to run midi cables all over the place but just recently we’ve taken full advantage of the Ableton Link function which allows you to sync over WIFI. Again, I was sceptical at first but it’s actually really good. Previously we had one laptop running all the stations but it’s not robust enough in a live situation because if it went down the whole show pretty much stopped so we decided to have separate laptops which meant that if one of them went down all the others would still be synced and making sound. So far so good!
Martin’s setup is kinda my favourite because it’s the most unruly. It’s capable of amazing and horrendous noises. Normally at the same time! He’s synced via the only hard midi out which goes to his Koma Elektroniks Rhythm Work Station which is another great piece of kit. Not only does it convert midi to CV but it also sends midi clock through to his loop pedal. This was a game changer. He’s got some other great pedals on there like the Koma Step Filter, the MoogerFooger Ring Modulator, the Electro Harmonix POG2 and the now almost classic Line 6 DL4 which is another pedal left over from the old days. At one point we had five of these things!
That pretty much sums it up apart from to say that Pete’s setup is still being worked on. He wants to try out some new things involving a midi guitar. There has been some giggling at this but he’s pretty serious about it. I hope it works out as he’s a bad ass guitarist.
Where does the name Vessels come from?
Martin: It came from a long and tortuous conversation that lasted many months. At the end of the debate that the felt like it would never end, we found one name that we all liked. I think it captures the essence of the music and the live show. And it has an ambiguity which appeals too.
We’re still enjoying your covers of The Sky Was Pink and Blue Clouds. If a new song will be covered, which one would it be?
Martin: Thanks. Good question! There’s an amazing Carl Craig remix of a tune called Relevee by Delia Gonzalez and Gavin Russom. We actually did some work on a cover, but I think we got distracted before we finished it. It might be nice to cover something totally unexpected as well. I’m a big Lana Del Ray fan. Somehow I don’t imagine I’ll be able to persuade the rest of the boys to join me on that one. Maybe one for my long overdue solo project!
01. Illum Sphere – The Journey
02. Kowton – A Bluish Shadow
03. Yotam Avni – Orma
04. Forward Strategy Group – Clean Neckline
05. Luke Abbott – Brazil (Slow Version)
06. John Talabot – Voices (Gerd Janson Version Conga)
07. Parple – Sacred
08. Malin, Yaleesa Hall – Second Carol (Asusu Remix)
09. Talaboman – Loser’s Hmyn
10. Black Sand – Dead Sea
11. Kowton – Balance
12. Cubicolor – Dead End Thrills (Patrice Baumel Remix)
13. Dark Circles – Y (Kamera Remix)
14. Vatican Shadow – Church of All Image (Regis Remix)
15. Modeselektor – The White Flash (feat. Thom Yorke)
16. Dubspeeka – K304v2 Walk With Me