This article originally appeared on DIY
Icon of minimalist music John Cage once said that you should “get yourself out of whatever cage you find yourself in.” Factory Floor certainly never sounded like they were imprisoned by their own sound on their self-titled debut album, where they floated somewhere in space between techno, post-punk and industrial. Behind the scenes though, Gabriel Gurnsey, Nik Void and Dominic Butler had their own shackles to contend with. “We were kind of in our corners of what we were doing,” Gurnsey explains. “We didn’t really mix it up and there were little territories.”
Following the departure of Butler from the band, it was time to escape the cage and try something new. As Void puts it, “we don’t follow a trend and try to escape.” It was time to go “ultra-minimalist.” Inspired by their increasing number of late-night sets, new album ’25 25’ pushes their passion for hypnotic repetition to the limits. The singles ‘Dial Me In’ and ‘Ya’ provide just a small introduction to their reborn sound, where looping house-inspired vocals, modular synths and 808s provide a foundation for layers of glitch-ridden electronics and propulsive beats. Opener ‘Meet Me At The End’ turns out to be a request you can’t refuse, as you get sucked into Factory Floor’s new, expansive and even more hypnotic world.
We caught up with Gurnsey and Void ahead of the release of ’25 25.’
For this new album, ‘25 25,’ you’ve slimmed down to a duo. What impact has that had on the record?
GG: Now we’ve gone down to a duo, it’s a nice way of bringing up new ideas and getting the fluidity back. Nik has ventured into the dark world of modular synths now too. It’s cool though cos it’s doing a lot of things we wouldn’t necessarily do if we were a three piece.
How difficult was it to get into the modular synthesisers then Nik? Had you had any previous experience?
Nik Void: I saw it from afar. I was very conscious that if I went down the modular synth route I’d keep it limited. It was nice to get your hands on something you could manipulate; just looking at it you know you have to manipulate it a lot to get it to where you want it to go.
GG: Every time we go to the airport I pick up Nik’s case and it’s just getting heavier and heavier with modules. And I’m like, “you bought a new one?” It’s kind of an addiction now, isn’t it? People are always like “what’s this?” It looks like a strange kinda scientific instrument.
Well you must be well-adjusted to airports now because you’ve been all over! Have there been any sounds or vibes on your travels that you think have really inspired the record?
GG: You’re always sat in the artists’ bit out back at a festival and you hear this kind of muted dance beat going on. It’s nice to hear tracks how they’re not meant to be heard. You can kind of hear two dance tents combining and it throws up weird new tunes. But what I like is going to sleep on the aeroplane on the way back. Total silence.
Yeah, I guess a lot of your sets were later at night too. So, is this album almost like a tribute to that late night culture or just your take on it?
NV: Everything happened so fast. You go with the flow and yet we go against the flow at the same time! We didn’t want to fit in; we didn’t want to have a set up that meant we pressed play and become DJs. We wanted our equipment to still be live on stage so we could still improvise.
Thinking about that organic element, it’s obviously important to you that you keep that element of playing live.
GG: Definitely. We couldn’t do it the other way around! We fit our sound to the space that we’re in or how the audience is reacting to get to that point where we’re happy and feeling it in the room. It’s always fun manipulating it, it throws up new ideas for new tracks too. It just keeps evolving. It’s just a really creative way of doing it and it’s fun.
NV: I’ve gone through different stages of being on stage since the age of 19, but every time I’ve needed something hands-on and something to make me look busy so I can avoid eye contact and conversation. If you’re kind of not good socially, you should get in a band, which is ironic!
You’d think it was the opposite way, with all those people looking at you!
GG: It’s like an outlet for people who are a bit socially awkward! It’s their way of clearing their conscious of not getting out there and being in front of people.
So when making ‘25 25’ were you consciously thinking about how it would sound live?
GG: Yeah, we’re always playing shows when we’re making these records so it’s good to throw them in the deep end, see how they work out live and then take them back to the studio. We were being influenced by the late night sets and clubs; we were playing through a massive PA like you’d get in a club in the warehouse we recorded in, so we had that feeling in the studio.
Nik has said that ‘25 25’ is the most “you” album you’ve ever done. So is this record the “real” Factory Floor?
NV: Yeah, I think so. I can only speak for myself and it’s a record that’s very me. I’ve brought in all the elements from the past and from working with other people and artists. I’ve kind of experimented with myself, whether it’s guitar or vocals.
GG: I think it’s, to me, more fluidity in the writing process on this record. It’s like the beginning of a new phase of Factory Floor that could turn into something different. It’s a better way of communicating in music when it’s just the two of us.