I CHING’s alluring, amiable sound channels the stargazing lyricism of Japan’s David Sylvian through washes of Hypnagogic synth-pop. The pair, Rollo Smallcombe and Kevin Emre, sat down with Wonderland to discuss the band’s inception, recent live collaborations with drummer “Tom Jones”, and Christmas stocking fillers.
How, when and where did you form?
I Ching formed after Kevin and I met at art college and started putting sounds together in an attic room in Archway, London, using bits and pieces of mismatched equipment. When you first sit down to start making music with someone it’s a bit ahead of yourself to think you’re going to make a band and put out records. It takes a while to fashion a sound that comes naturally to you both, and one that you want other people to be interested by. When we got our first group of songs together about this time last year, we were lucky enough to get Andrew Ford and Thomas Jones on board to make I Ching into a live entity. They’re both fantastic at bringing ideas to the table and really understand what the music is about and how to make it the best it can be.
What does Jones add to the sound?
Thomas lived with Kevin in a strange house in Peckham for a while. They had a tiny basement with drums, amps and Kevin’s girlfriend’s keyboard in. I’d played with them
there a few times, and met Thomas through that. He has a lot of experience playing with the band Good Shoes, so when we were looking for a drummer he was the obvious person to ask. He’s a great musician and really brings his own dynamic and character to I Ching live percussion.
What are your top five eighties synth-pop bands?
Simple Minds, Ciaran Heart, The Factory, Tears for Fears (if they count), and The Residents.
The days are certainly drawing in. Frosty weather compliments I Ching’s music. What’s your favourite winter warmer?
In terms of physical warmth it would be a scarf that’s also a hood.
What’s the best stocking filler you’ve received? Any ideas for them this year?
A rubber ball that flashed when it bounced. I can probably re-wrap it and give it back this year.
How’s the album coming on? What will it be called?
The album is taking shape. Hopefully we can give it a name it deserves. A couple of beautiful words or the name of something we love.
You’ve said you’re keen to start making films – can you elaborate? Your music is quite filmic. Would you write music to accompany it?
Yes, we would love to make films in the future. An I Ching-directed video short to accompany the music would be a great project to pursue. With the way people consume things on the internet, it would make sense to be able to take both the visual and audio aspect to a piece of work, with one being made to marry the other perfectly. We would want to do the sound-effects, too.
Words: Jack Mills