Music | Interview – Troumaca
Named after a West Indian Village on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent, where one of the band-member’s ancestry can be traced, there is an essence of dub and tropical vibes within their music. Yet, as proved by Troumaca’s debut album, ‘The Grace’, released on Gilles Peterson’s label Brownswood Recordings, it is difficult to limit the band to a singular musical style. Combining the best of UK bass culture with more traditional song writing, Troumaca occupy a musical space all of their own.
LS caught up with Sam and Geoff from the band over a meal at Wagamamas to talk about music, Russia and the future.
Hi, How has the tour been going so far?
Sam: Good man, really good.
Geoff: We’ve had a really nice reaction.
Where is the best place you have played so far this year?
Geoff: York, Nottingham and Stoke have really stood out on the UK tour so far.
Sam: But I’d say Moscow innit.
Geoff: Ye Moscow, easy.
What was Moscow like?
Sam: Well we got pampered a lot. It was part of this thing I’ve never heard of before called the British Council. They are basically just about exporting British culture. It’s almost like they have a bottomless budget. They took us out and we were all getting steaks in these posh restaurants.
Geoff: The venue we played, Stelka, is kind of like a hub for a fast crowing middle class in Russia. You can see they were very hungry for new music and new counter-cultures.
Sam: Stelka is like a free college. It’s like an interior design and architectural college. Anyone could go there, Russian or foreign, and they also put on a night and there was a restraint there. They kinda just did everything. It was over the road form the Kremlin, which was pretty amazing.
You’re Debut album has just been released on Gilles Peterson’s label, Brownswood. What is the story behind getting signed to Brownswood? How did it all happen?
Sam: It’s quite romantic really, we played Mostly Jazz [a festival in Birmingham] last summer gone, 2102, and Gilles was compeering the day. We weren’t aware he was there when we played and he loved it. It kind of went from there, he asked us on the spot if we were signed.
Geoff: and, obviously, we said no.
Sam: We spent some time with him in the offices and he just made us feel great.
Even though Troumaca is a more resent project, you have been around on the Birmingham scene for quite a while. Until recently the Birmingham music scene has been fairly ignored. Do you think you have benefited from staying in Birmingham rather than moving to somewhere else like London?
Sam: I think within the music industry, they kind of like it when you are from elsewhere. Birmingham blew up in the last year… Well, it didn’t blow up but it has had a lot more of attention in the last year [in reference to bands like Peace, Swim Deep, Jaws and Superfood] which is all good. It’s good that that’s happening.
Geoff: It’s weird because sometimes I used to think, if we were in London we wouldn’t have stood out so much. Obviously in Birmingham we have a smaller city and less bands. But in the past if the environment was any different, if it was getting looked at and there wasn’t that slight frustration there, then the music would have been different. I probably wouldn’t change it.
So do you plan to stay in Birmingham for the long term?
Sam: we have got a studio there, so it’s still kind of our hub. We recorded and produced the album in the studio and we want to expand that and do some parties and stuff. So, at the moment it makes sense to stay.
Your album seems to draw from a wide range of different styles and genres and back in Birmingham you have been heavily involved in Bigger than Barry [a dance music club night] and Moschnio Hoe Versace Hottie [RnB and Hip Hop club night] that have both since moved to Leeds and become staple club nights here. What are your musical influences?
Sam: I think like.. it sounds corny but anything that really speaks to me is an influence. A lot of low-end stuff and bass stuff, obviously dance elements are in there…
Geoff: …but so is classic song writing, at-least we attempt to anyway haha.
Production-wise your album feels pretty different as well. Not a standard album you would expect from a band.
Geoff: Well, I think when it comes to producing the album it’s more about space and creating a complete body of work rather than a few songs put together. If you look at the vocals we have had a few comments from people who say that the vocals are very low and dreamy; that they stay in the background, very understated. So sometimes it’s hard to hear and understand what we are saying, but in the body of the track it just works. It’s all about how everything sat together in the space available. Our music used to be quite busy, but we took it back and now tried paying 2 chords when we used to play 4 and adding a bassier sub underneath, it made it all more soulful. It’s definitely like a soul album.
Sam: For me it’s trying to make sense of things in a poet way. I feel duty bound when I write a lyric that it’s got to feel poetic. Things like that really resonate with me.
So, would you say you wrote for yourself?
Sam: This album was very collaborative. But I’d say yes we do really write for ourselves. If it resonates with us, hopefully it will resonate with other people.
You have had remixes of your tracks by LV and, more recently, Kyodai; If you could have any producer remix a track who would it be?
Sam: Timbaland, I’d let Timbaland have a go.
Geoff: I’d let someone more random like Prince have a go.
Sam: or Quincey Jones
What are you into at the moment musically?
Sam: I’m into a couple of producers. At the moment I like Sango and there is a geezer called Ta-Ku. There is this label called Soulection and they LA based and I am just loving everything they release. It’s kind of trappy, but not lairy. It’s got a nice feel it, it’s nice and soulful.
Geoff: I try not to listen to anything when I record or write my own music. So I had a big nice list of music to listen to when we finished the album. But we are writing again so ye.
Are you writing for a second album or a new E.P or something?
Geoff: We are just writing to keep the momentum going. If we stopped just because we have an album campaign, you can get caught up in the constraints of the music industry. It feels like a good time to start writing again. So I’m not listening to too much at the moment.
What plans do you for the future after this tour?
Sam: We are looking to get something nice out, do some collabs. We are going to do some ad-hoc parties, streaming parties from our studio so we can invite people into where we do our stuff.
Geoff: We are looking to produce someone. We will hopefully produce someone in the New Year but that’s a bit of a secret. But our next single, ‘The Grace’, is out on the 18th November and ‘Gold, Women and Wine’ is out in the New Year and we are looking for some nice edits of those tracks as well.
At this point, the interview came to a comfortable conclusion as the waitress brought over the bill for the food. As the band decided how to pay for everything, the waitress asked the band what their plan was for the night and if they were going out anywhere. Sam mentioned that they were “going to cockpit”. Although they could have easily said they were in a band, currently on tour across the UK, and that they were expecting an almost sold out crowd to come and see them at Cockpit that night, they didn’t. And this is the quiet confidence of Troumaca.
Troumaca’s debut album ‘The Grace‘ is out now!