Starting out in late 2009/early 2010, Bon Chat Bon Rat are one of an ongoing wave of local acts who’ve taken to eschewing the lines between pop and electronica, the band taking guitars, synths, bass, samples and vocals, layering them over one another and chopping it all up into music that is, more than anything else, very contemporary. Following in the wake of artists such as Seekae and Jonti, the band have come a long way since the release of their self-released and produced debut EP, recently announced as playing alongside such electronic music luminaries as Simon Caldwell and SBTRKT at the upcoming musica/Tumbalong festival on Sat 22nd Oct at Tumbalong Park.
We caught up with the guys over some late night coffee to discuss what they’ve been up to, where the music is heading and how they approach playing produced music live.
Music Feeds: Hey guys how are you?
Bon Chat Bon Rat: We’re just drinking some coffee, talking crap
MF: What this late, you’ll be up all night!
BCBR: I live on the edge man.
MF: Did you just say ‘I live on the the edge’
MF: Better watch out man, coffee at 8:00 at night, you’re a bad man.
MF: Is that something you guys do a lot of, live on the edge, walking the line?
BCBR: When it comes to coffee and caffeine yeah, we don’t conform to caffeine rules.
MF: So you’re anti-caffeine conformists then, my hats off to you sirs, I can respect that. I’d imagine that means the live show’s pretty pepped up.
BCBR: We’re trying to get it that way at the moment actually, we’re currently working on writing some longer jams to get people dancing more, which are really fun to work on and really fun to play.
MF: Is that a product of your recent caffeine abuse, or is it standard practice for you guys.
BCBR: A bit of both, but it’s been a long-running addiction.
MF: Haha, fair enough. So other than flooding yourself with the brown bean, what else is going on. You’re playing at Musica in October, tell us about that? What a line-up!
BCBR: Yeah, they’ve got Simon Caldwell from the UK coming out and Baths, as well from the US who’s signed to Anticon and who does some awesome stuff with room noise and stuff like that which we’ve been looking into. But yeah, as far as electronic music goes this line-up is amazing. I mean, we’re just stoked to be given a chance to play.
MF: Obviously, I can tell from your tone there that you’re overflowing with enthusiasm and ebullience, I was going to ask you to calm down.
BCBR: We’re frothing at the mouth to get on stage.
MF: Frothed up like your coffees. But cool, other than the festival, you mentioned you were working on the live show a lot. Is that what you’re really focusing on at the moment, are you doing any recording?
BCBR: We’ve done a bit of recording, but as far as the live show goes, we wrote a lot of the songs sitting in front of the laptop, so we’re just sort of going through them all and trying to liven everything up a bit.
MF: That’s the great challenge in electronic music isn’t it, balancing the near infinite possibilities of recording and writing in software with the limitations of playing live without just hitting play.
BCBR: That’s definitely one of the biggest challenges we’re trying to overcome, to play produced music live and for it to sound live. That’s what we’re trying to get our head around at the moment.
MF: So what’s the set-up onstage like then?
BCBR: We have live vocals, guitar and bass on stage, with me singing through a Chaos Pad, as well as triggered beats, Ableton, and we’ve also got an Alessis Andromeda synth onstage with us as well.
MF: Cool. With Ableton I’m assuming there is some degree of backing track being used, which is a big issue for a lot of bands out there, whether they should sacrifice some of the sound to have everything be more live or whether they should hand off some of the parts to a computer so they can focus on playing particular parts particularly well.
BCBR: Yeah, that’s what we’re working on at the moment, bridging that gap between not playing anything and just pushing buttons and pretending you’re enjoying yourself, or trying to play four parts all at once and not having enough time to enjoy yourself.
MF: You’re trying to find balance. The Buddhists call that the middle path and it sounds like you guys are walking along it.
BCBR: We’re walking along the middle path (laughs), that’s great.
MF: How have things come along since the EP?
BCBR: Yeah, well, we did a single in the time since the EP, but we’re currently working on a full-length album that we’ve already done a bit of rereading for. We’re trying to get something really solid together as well as something that people can dance to a little more you know. We want to get people grooving, feeling that bass groove.
MF: Cool, well can you tell me about the stuff you’re working on now and how it compares to the EP?
BCBR: Well, a lot of the EP was half-time, not in a dubstep way, just more down beat and down tempo with less accents on the twos and fours and I think we need to do that a little bit more. We want to try and coax people into dancing a bit more with a pretty solid, more danceable beat, but at the same time avoid that sort of four to the floor 120bpm Cut Copy groove that you can fall into a little bit. We want to try and craft our own sound, but that’s proven a little more difficult than we anticipated.
MF: You said a lot of the EP was written in front of a laptop; has playing live in front of audiences really driven you to try and find this more danceable sound?
BCBR: Definitely, we’ve had a lot of crowds come along and just nod their heads. We’d really like to play later sets and longer sets. Just DJ and jam out over our songs that people know and just get people on the dance floor.
MF: Yeah mate, there’s no better feeling than dropping track and just seeing a bunch of drunk girls throw their hands up and go wooooo!
BCBR: Young girls?! Take it easy.
MF: Young girls? Mate, I said drunk girls, you take it easy and stop hearing what you want to hear.
BCBR: I’m more into the thirty year old men.
MF: Well that’s where the money is. Thirty-two year old professional male. High disposable income, no girlfriend or family to speak of, so he can just pour all his cash straight into Bon Chat Bon Rat. Good marketing guys.
BCBR: He can wear a Bon Chat Bon Rat shirt to work. Better yet, we could make Bon Chat Bon Rat ties.
MF: That’s a great idea mate, you could do cufflinks as well, Bon Chat on one arm and Bon Rat on the other.
BCBR: That … (stunned pause) is a fantastic idea.
MF: You’re welcome mate, all I want is a cut if you ever do it. I’ll hold you to that, this is being recorded.