We chat to Until The Ribbon Breaks frontman about the relationship between film and music and touring the USA.
“Remember the days when the gift of something simple was a gesture that your loved one would never forget; something that was meaningful only between the two of you. Nobody else had that one gift because it was so personal. That gift was a mixtape with all yours and their favourite music on which you played over and over again” – Until The Ribbon Breaks.
This romantic notion is the part of the idea behind the three piece band who have been described as “apocalyptic-pop” artists, “soulful R&B” provocateurs, “boundary erasing soulful hip hop” connoisseurs and everything in between.
Until The Ribbon Breaks don’t just create music. They pioneer a mash up of sound and film that ties together the grittiness of love, loss, lust, infatuation, regret and fear, through beautiful cinematography and lyrics that subconsciously embed themselves within the mind of the listener for a long time. With their debut album, A Lesson Unlearnt, set for release next year, they are soon to be heard by the masses.
Not only are Until The Ribbon Breaks a stellar new-gen band who really have the whole singing-songwriting-filmmaking whipped to perfection – they have also made a name for themselves in the blogosphere with re-imaginations of The Weekend’s “Wicked Games,” Sam Smith’s “Nirvana”, Lorde’s “Royals”, Phantogram’s “Fall in Love” and more all being hyped.
Wonderland speaks to Cardiff-born front man Pete Lawrie Winfield about the relationship between film and music, touring the USA and new years resolutions.
What’s the concept behind the band name Until The Ribbon Breaks?
We try not to think about genre, any sound or idea is allowed in the studio. It comes from wanting to make music that is just about how it feels. From a time when you would make somebody a mixtape on cassette that could go from De La Soul to R.E.M and it didn’t matter. Those cassettes would be loved until they were worn out. Until The Ribbon broke…..
There are a lot of different sounds in each song. How do you know which sounds go together well?
It’s a process of elimination. Throw as much paint as you can at a canvas and start scraping it away, until hopefully, the elements that are left make sense with each other. It is an exciting prospect, that due to technology, we are no longer limited sonically; our palette can be as big as we want it to be. This can also cause problems….Why not combine a sitar with the sound of dog howling at the moon?!
So do you feel your songs tell a personal story?
Sometimes by purely personal experience. Sometimes, they are inspired by moving picture, or something I have read or seen. More often than not, a combination of all of the above. I don’t often write about my personal relationships, I tend to think that everything that can be said has been said about that particular theme in somgwriting. I love lyricists like Paul Simon. It’s personal in some regard, but always feels mysterious, slightly detached. More about the sound of the words, the phrasing. I love words essentially.
What about the album?
The album has a thread. I didn’t think so until I listened to it as a whole for the first time recently. I noticed a lot of existential angst, a lot of questioning. It’s interesting, they feel like the thoughts of someone else now. That is what is nice about records. They feel like a snapshot of time, a summing up of a certain period. A diary entry I suppose. I’m hoping for a cheerier diary entry next!
So you studied film. What was the process from film-making to making music?
In the end, I chose to make music my main focus, because the rush of adrenalin you get back is quicker from music, mainly due to the length of time it takes to make a film, the amount of people it takes and the patience required. As I get older, I’m thinking more and more about film making again, music is a raw energy, film is a far more considered process.
So I’m guessing you reference film as inspiration for music, and vice versa?
In the studio, we project visuals onto the wall. Almost all of our songs are written and produced with some element of visual accompaniment. I find that it makes your world bigger, you can dream bigger, there are no boundaries when staring at a moving image of space.
You described youngsters giving a girl or friend a mixtape as a gift. Do you think teens today would do that?
Yes, only it would be a Spotify playlist or the like. Romance and music will forever be married. There is no escaping that. Our memories of music are intertwined with the memories who we shared it with, Heartbreak, new love, loneliness, communication, friendship. Almost all songs touch on that and if not, they are certainly experienced that way.
What music would have been on your mixtape?
I wish I still had them. I used to spend forever, hovering over the play and pause buttons, trying to capture the radio. Music is magic to kinds, a playlist, mixtape, homemade cassette was a way to bottle that up. That’s the ultimate shame in the loss of the cassette in particular. Making your own little album from nothing, with your favourite songs. A Spotify playlist is one thing, but you can’t hold it. You can’t hide it in your backpack and you can’t slip it under a girl’s door. Mine would have been a lot of Hip Hop and skate punk. NOFX, Cypress Hill, Mos Def, RATM. Basically anything my mum would have disapproved of.
Good choices. So how was touring the USA?
It was always a dream of mine and it never gets old. The landscapes here are just so wide, so endless. To see that every day, to really feel that whilst with your friends and sharing what we love with people in places we have never been… Glorious.
Are you excited to go again?
Does a bear shit in the woods?
Got it. Which North American state is your favourite?
Cali all day baby. (I love New York too, but I am from the cold, I no longer enjoy its icy grip.)
What are your plans for Christmas and New Year?
I will be in Thailand, my favourite place on earth, always an adventure, always unexpected and ALWAYS HOT.
We’re jealous. Do you have any resolutions planned?
Learn to make bread. Learn to let go.
What can we expect from UTRB in 2015, aside from fresh bread?
Music, film, shows, photographs and laughs.
If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing right now?
Writing a job application or a suicide note, depending on the weather.
The former, we hope.
Words: Faye Smith.