Interview: Michael Van She.
On Saturday night I spoke with Van She and Van She Tech‘s Michael Di Francesco on the old telephone line, and below are the transcribed results from that discussion. There’s a lot of juicy stuff revealed during our chat, including a scoop (!!!) on the UK release of the album; there’s something different being added, a tentative release time-frame for album number 2 (which they’re currently working on), but also, a lot of uncovered stuff regarding the bands remix project, Van She Tech. Are the remixes labeled Van She Remix and not Van She Tech Remix labelled incorrectly? Is it true Van She Tech were going to change their name to Arithmatix!? Are there actually 2 girls involved in the Van She Tech project or not? Were the boys even supposed to be publicly credited for their work on Rhys‘ debut single “Hot Summer”? Are they possibly heading out on tour with a certain cat-and-dog-loving (hem hem) Ladyhawke?
All is revealed below.
If you end up reporting any of this on your website/blog/whatever, please credit back to this interview. Cheers, and hope you enjoy.
Hey man, how are you today?
Today I’m good. I’ve spent all day in the QANTAS lounge in Adelaide [airport] this morning, then to Sydney for a couple of hours, and now we’re in Canberra.
Yeah, we played a Nova showcase last night in Adelaide and tonight we’re DJing in Canberra.
Always busy, you boys. So, I’m going to ask the question I’ve had people demand I ask you right off the top of the interview; are you guys working on new material for album number 2 yet or not?
Yes. We’ve started, it’s funny coz we’ve got a timeline happening, and a lot of this year is devoted to writing, the later half of the year recording, and hopefully release early next year.
Ah hurrah! So the good folk reading at home aren’t going to have to wait as long this time around?
Nope, no, nowhere near as long. And at the moment we’re doing a, kind of special party mix version of the [first] album. Which has the techno. We’re remixing a lot of the tracks.
Hey that’s cool.
Yeah. So you’re the first person who knows that, no one knows that yet. I’m not even sure I’m meant to tell you, but I’ve told you so (laughs), it’s a scoop! It’s for the overseas release, in conjunction with the album there’ll also be the remix album. But we’re not remixing all of the tracks.
Oh so just a few of them?
Yeah about five or six, something like that.
In regards to that first album, was it a little bit frustrating, having to push the album release date back so many times?
Um, yeah, yes and no, but once it’s out you just kind of forget about all of that. At the time it’s frustrating but these things happen for a reason, and it has to fit in with schedules.
You’ve had really positive feedback from UK radio for “Cat & The Eye” – the albums finally getting a release this year over there, yes?
That’s correct. And we’re maybe going over there later in the year to do a tour with Ladyhawke.
Yep, all in between recording and writing. Which we’re all very excited about. And last night we did this gig and we were all, oh, we need to start playing new material. I mean, we’ve been playing the same songs for so long, what a lot of people don’t realise is that, even before a lot of those songs came out and were released on the album, we were playing them. Because we only really had four songs that people knew. So we started playing the newer tracks to keep with a 45 minutes set (laughs). And we’re kind of known for finishing a set in less than that time (laughs again), we have a habit of finishing quicker than we’re supposed to for that exact reason.
This is all incredibly exciting.
Yeah absolutely, and yeah, wait, what was the question again?
(Rapturous Laughter prevents me from repeating the question)
(Rapturous Laughter) Ahh yes, the UK release. Yeah, we’re very happy about that (laughs again.)
So over the last 12 months the band were virtually living out of suitcases, moreso than usual. Show after show, flight after flight… is it easy to lose the motivation or the will to perform at any point?
Ahhh, yeah, definitely it is (laughs). It’s more the situations and, the things that are happening around you that can affect and influence your motivation. Along with tiredness. I mean, there’s nothing worse than getting up in an aeroplane, and not having breathed a breath of fresh air for however many hours, then having to go straight to a soundcheck and then go straight to dinner. I mean, it’s fun, and we’re doing what we love, but at the end of the day it’s still work, and we are serious about it. You have a duty to perform and to do your best, so even if you have had a shit day you have to pull it out.
Do you think, in our current music climate, that the touring is just as important as the CD releases?
I dare to say No. With the climate as it is you can be in multiple places at once with the Internet, but at the same time… I don’t know, there are many sides to that argument, but I really think we all don’t want to do a show unless it’s worth it.
I wanted to clear something up about the remixes you guys do… Now, if any remixes are titled as ‘Van She Remix’ rather than ‘Van She Tech Remix’, is it safe to say they’ve just been incorrectly labeled?
Yeah yeah. But, we’ve been kind of been pushing the more ‘Van She’, either or, it’s kind of up to whoever’s commissioning the works discretion. It happens all the time, we get a remix request for a Van She Remix or a Van She Tech Remix, it really makes no difference to the process. If anything it’s better, because it’s more focused on the band.
So that’s still just yourself and Nick doing the remixes?
Do you pay much attention about what’s written about you guys on the internet?
There have been a couple of times when I’ve been bored, and I’ve gone on to read stuff, but I just find myself getting… angry (laughs). I dunno, occasionally I’ll get on, and everyone has an opinion and everyone is tough. I don’t really take it too much to heart, but it is what it is.
There’s a group of people online who seem to think the Van She Tech remixes are better than the Van She originals… has that ever worried you at all?
Um… I haven’t read any of that stuff. Does that upset me?
Um… no, it just kind of reaffirms how we perceive what we are doing, and how we kind of… I think that the way the album is, it’s a knee-jerk reaction to the remixes. We kind of felt we were doing all this techno, and we felt that the band needs to be… bandy. Or Indie. It’s like… chasing the Indie dream. We’re all comfortable with electronic music and techno, and I think that the next album will incorporate more of that in what we do. Nah, it doesn’t really [upset me]. I still think the songs are good whether they have a disco beat behind it or not (laughs). I mean, if we didn’t think any of the songs weren’t good, we wouldn’t have put them on the record. Obviously some people like the techno more than they like the band, and others like the band more, or other people have no idea about the band or the techno. I think it probably can get quite confusing for people (laughs), but we enjoy doing both. But that’s another reason why we’re doing the remix package for overseas, so that people don’t get confused.
What has stood out for you as the best remix you guys have done?
It’s funny, one of my favourite ones is the Dragonette dub, I’m not even sure if it’s out, or sure if it was included on the release of that track…
It’s on the promo CD for the single…
Oh okay. Well, we sent off the original remix, and then got a message back asking if we could do a dub, without the vocals. So, anyway, in a couple of hours we just did a completely different track with a little bit of vocal in it and it ended up being so much cooler, we kinda wished we had’ve made that the remix. That’s probably my favourite one, and the other favourite is probably the Klaxons. Whenever I hear that I get goosebumps.
Well, it’s probably your benchmark classic.
Well, when we did that we didn’t like it, we weren’t sure about it and didn’t think it was very good. We were really doubting it, but it just got to the point where we had to finish it and put it in. It kind of worked out well. And I also like the I Am Finn one. What’s your favourite Adem?
Um, the I Am Finn one, Martina Topley-Bird and the Klaxons one.
Are there any that you think, shit, that could have been a lot better than it was?
Remixes? Hell yeah! All of them (laughs)! I think we’re pretty, you know, we’re always trying to get better and want to get better, you never stop learning. So, I think, there are always things… nothing’s ever finished, and if it weren’t for the deadline things probably wouldn’t get finished. And a lot of things aren’t ever finished for that exact reason. When you create something you have to get to a point where you say ‘that’s finished, that’s enough.’ You don’t just keep working on it forever and ever and ever. Or, you’ll just stop on it all together because you just lose respect for it. You become scared of completion. But, one that particularly could have been better? There is one, that wasn’t that great. The Pendulum one. I actually don’t think I even have a copy of it on my computer… but yeah, it’s pretty deep, kind of cool, but then at the end it just goes… (laughs). We could’ve done that a bit better.
And still on Van She Tech, quite some time ago I remember reading there were two females involved in the project; gospel or gossip?
Total gossip, yep. When we were doing the Nevereverland shows in Australia, the guys from, ah shit, complete mental blank! I can’t even remember the name of the band (guffaws)! They’re from Germany…
Whitest Boy Alive?
It was! Yes, thank you! Well, they were under the impression that Van She Tech were Van She’s technicians, like, our equipment people, that did remixes for the band (laughs).
Yeah, I don’t know how they got that idea (laughs). But there have been times when we’ve been DJing and people will come up to us saying ‘I thought there was supposed to be two girls’. It’s just a joke, (laughs) just to throw people off. And it works!
Like the incredibly false story about how you guys met during an audition for a rock group citing Sepultura and Phil Collins as influences?
(Laughs) Yeah, yeah same kind of thing!
Something that popped up last year was your DJing alter-ego Arithmatix! Several comments written on different music blogs had reported that Van She Tech were going to switch over to the Arithmatix! name; Gospel or Gossip?
Ah, yes yes yes, it’s funny, that name was actually conceived by my girlfriend, and we were going to change the name from Van She Tech to Arithmatix! The Utah Saints remix was actually going to be Van She Tech featuring Arithmatix! to introduce it. But at the last minute we decided that maybe we shouldn’t. And so, I just took the name because, well, my girlfriend (laughs), and I needed a name to DJ and do other projects under so, just another alias. But yeah, we were going to switch it over.
Do you think there’ll be any releases or remixes under the Arithmatix! banner somewhere down the line?
Oh yeah definitely, yep. Finding time is the hard thing.
Well you’ve got lots on!
Speaking of remixes, what happened to the Kelly re-release?
Um, that’s a really good question. I don’t know (laughs). I don’t really think it did what they were hoping it would do. When I say they, I mean the record company and our management at the time.
Yourself and Nicky have just done some work with So You Think You Can Dance’s Rhys on his cover of the Monrose track “Hot Summer.” How was that?
Um, interesting. Interesting. It’s one of those classic scenarios where someone asks you for something, you agree to something… (long pause). No one was supposed to know it was us, it was supposed to be under a different name and we were production work for hire. Of course, they put Van She Tech next to it…
In big bold letters, splattered all over the press release!
Yep! To try and drum up some interest and, unfortunately, it didn’t work.
(Laughs) But I don’t know what’s happening with that. We’re supposed to be doing another one, we’ve given them the instrumental track but haven’t heard anything. That’s just the extra curricular work. He’s a lovely guy though, and he’s a fantastic dancer and a great singer so, but we haven’t heard from them in a couple of weeks. Thank you for reminding me, I need to call them…
(Laughter) No worries!
(Laughs) But it was cool to do some pop and to do some American sounding stuff. We really enjoyed the process and really enjoyed working with Rhys, definitely.
What do you think of the original Monrose track?
Yeah, I like it. It’s not something that I’d buy, but it is a good track.
Are you guys interested in producing for other artists in the future?
Oh yeah, if it’s the right artist and the conditions are good and if there’s time. I mean it’s fun, it’s good to work with other people.
So what’s left to do in 2009?
Well we’ve gotta do these party mixes, which have to be handed in in less than 2 weeks time, which we’re freaking over because, with me living in Melbourne and Nick living in Sydney, it makes getting together a whole lot difficult. Then we’re just going to get stuck into writing and recording demos. The odd show here and there, we’ve got Bacardi Train coming and Roxanne’s in Melbourne. We’re going to Japan in a couple of weeks, just for three or four days. But yeah, it’s going to be fantastic to be home for the majority of the year.
Good, I’m very happy you’ll be home more too.
Yeah, coz last year, like you said, living out of suitcases… (laughs).
Thanks heaps mate for chatting with me today, much appreciated.
Ah no worries Adem. Thanks dude.
Catch you later…
Van She Tech DJ at Geelong’s Club 4Play on Thursday, March 5, with doors opening at 9:30pm. Van She the band take to the stage at Melbourne’s Roxanne Parlour, Friday March 20, with doors opening at 8:00pm. For further details on Van She’s touring schedule across Australia and Japan over the next month, head over to their MySpazz.