Photo by Cara Stricker
No Art are one of those bands that manage to float atop their influences without treading to heavily on them. With hints of Sonic Youth, a sprinkle of Cocteau Twins and pinch of Liars all mixed around in their haunting and hypnotic sound, they sound familiar in terms of aesthetic but fresh in execution.
Having grabbed the attention of Sydney’s music scene when they first arrived on the block back in 2009, being named FBi Breakfast’s Unsigned Artist of the Week, their song Fight In The Nocturnal House appearing on New Weird Austrlia Vol 2 and their specially composed ambient instrumental piece Snaky Looking airing on ABC Radio National programme Quiet Space, even the band’s baby steps were steady and strong. Currently working on finishing their debut EP with Patrick Santamaria (Lost Valentinos, Knife Machine), the first taste of which being their current single Kids In Place, with a run of gigs planned in the next month including the 2am residency at Mum at World Bar, No Art are really hitting their stride.
We caught up with the band to discuss how their sound has evolved in the past few years as well as to check in with how the EP is coming along.
Music Feeds: You guys have been doing this for a while now, how would you say the music has evolved in that time? Is it important for you to move forward or do you guys have a set idea of what your working towards and it’s just a case of trying to better realise that?
No Art: We approach music very intuitively, so there’s not really an end point in mind when we’re working. The music often comes out as a mishmash of whatever is floating around in our separate heads at that moment. That said, there is always a sense of trying to push things a little bit further, to sort of extend what the music can be. Vice versa, the process of trying to realise something specific often means that we stumble across something else entirely. So we try to strike a balance between our intentions and the unexpected. It’s hard for us to gauge, except in retrospect.
MF: You got pretty instant recognition, with FBi and New Weird Australia both proclaiming their love for you, did that help a lot in terms of persevering through what is a very competitive and difficult industry, or were you guys always going to do this no matter what?
NA: It was really lovely – both FBi and NWA are so incredible like that. You can approach it as ‘competitive and difficult’, but we really just do this regardless because we enjoy it. It’s a very humble, DIY thing for us.
MF: Would you say you have a game plan in terms of how you approach your career or is it a case of letting things develop naturally and reacting accordingly?
NA: We definitely have thoughts and opinions about what we do and don’t want, but there’s no ‘game plan’ as such. I suppose it’s more following a feeling and working towards things we think would be cool to do – like the ambient piece for Radio National’s Quiet Space program, which was a great project for us to work on. We’ve been very lucky in that we’ve found some great people we love working with – other bands, artists, spaces and generally just amazing people.
MF: You guys have been working on an EP with Patrick Santamaria from Lost Valentinos and Knife Machine, can you tell us about it?
NA: It’s a very productive partnership, because Pat is completely into the music and, being an incredibly creative and talented guy, also brings a lot to it. It’s nice having another set of eyes and ears in the room to give a little perspective! It’s definitely resulted in some of those fortunate surprises we spoke about earlier. Kids In Place is the first evidence of that – and we’re impatient to get the rest of it out in the coming months.
MF: You also got the limited edition cassette release, what made you want to release on cassette?
NA: A friend was starting a tape label (Pretty Pretty Recordings) and we had a few recordings in the wings, so we saw it as a good opportunity to do something a bit different. Cassettes are beautiful things, tangible and nostalgic. It all happened quite organically, and we’ve come out with a nice little object at the end of it.
MF: How have you guys approached the recordings? Where have you been doing it? Do you still have the Brethren Just Below space?
NA: Sadly, no… We loved BJB but we were just too loud to make it last. We’ve found a new space which is in between the lanes of a highway and right next to the train tracks – perfect for us! Pat also moved in as we started recording which has worked out really well, it’s a good little vibe space. We’ve done everything except the drums there. We did those at a really cool studio Charles has been visiting for years out west; it’s completely decked out in 50s paraphernalia.
MF: How do you approach writing songs in the band?
NA: It’s a little hard to explain, because it’s something we just do. It’s definitely collaborative and intuitive. Not like epic jam sessions, but building pieces of the puzzle and then playing around with them. Trusting our instincts but ensuring that we keep pushing the music a little bit beyond at the same time. I think the songs retain a bit of malleability because of that, which we continue to push during our shows.
MF: You guys have the 2am Friday residency at Mum at World Bar coming up in February, can we expect anything special from these shows?
NA: It’s a treat to play the same stage for four weeks in a row! We’ll definitely be pushing the music around week to week – it’s bound to be a bit of a test tube experiment. Plus, everyone will be in peak form by 2am, so we’re looking forward to that.
MF: What should we be keeping an eye out for in the next few months?
NA: We’ll be putting our heads down to finish this EP and get it out, so look out for that. Plus we’ve got a few more projects up our sleeves, including some work with a couple of amazing artists Kevina-Jo Smith and Jacob Ring, (though it’s a little too early to talk about that yet…)
No Art will be playing at Mum at World Bar every Friday in February at 2am starting this week.