YOU BREAK, YOU BUY: Music for Math Rock Fans and Their Mums

You Break, You Buy

London, UK based instrumental math/post-rock quartet You Break, You Buy has put out their second EP release Don’t Join the Circus back in January this year, with a goal of creating a release that satisfy the math/post-rock standards but still be accessible and listenable by wide audiences.

In a new interview for Vinyl Sphere, the band discusses the creative process behind the release, their look on technology in music, vinyl, and more. Don’t Join the Circus is available as digital download and 12″ LP from Bandcamp.

Describe the musical vision propelling your album Don’t Join the Circus.

Ultimately, we wanted to make something accessible, not just to people in the fairly niche genre of instrumental post/math rock but to their mums as well, so to speak. We also wanted to write songs that we a bit more self contained and complete.

What made this the right time to pursue that vision?

Our first EP, Happy Happenstance was very much about us discovering ourselves as a band. We were strangers before we started playing together, so we were still feeling our way around with that EP. With this one, we wanted to take what we had learned the first time around and streamline our sound a bit more.

Don't Join the Circus

Tell me about what you’re communicating with the album cover.

There’s actually a story behind the concept of Don’t Join the Circus and its artwork. Back in 2015, pretty much when we had started writing the EP, Luca, our drummer, auditioned to join the live band of a touring circus and actually got the gig. For a while he wasn’t sure whether he was going to accept their offer, but eventually he decided to stick around and carry on with YBYB, hence the title of the EP.

The artwork for both our EP’s was done by the wonderful Valerio Immordino. His style is a great mix of fun and quirky which really resonated with us. We gave him the title of the EP and told him to draw whatever he wanted. I think the playful sense of slightly organised chaos it depicts captures what we’re trying to do really well.

What was the creative process for Don’t Join the Circus like?

Long! We’re very picky, so there was a lot of trial and error, and some stuff that we spent months on which we abandoned eventually. Its always worth it, but it can be frustrating.

Speaking of the album’s creative process, provide some insight into it. How did you document the music while it was being formulated?

Initially we’d get together outside of our rehearsal space to work on ideas. We found it more productive to start a song in more relaxed environment and then move to the rehearsal room with a skeleton structure to work from. In terms of documenting the music we just use a dictaphone to record parts we like!

Is the dynamic flow of the pieces carefully architected?

We’d like to think so! We made an effort to have songs revisit certain melodies and resolve themselves as opposed to just going from section to section with little or no correlation between them.

Did the environment in any way influence the vibe the album transcends?

I don’t think the environment had much influence on our music, at least not consciously. Though some could argue that the EP has a few melancholic moments, which might have been influenced by grey old London. Hard to tell really!

Tell me about the gear you used for creating Don’t Join the Circus. How did you achieve all these tones?

Our setup is quite minimal, and we kept it the same for the recordings. Jon used a Japanese Strat through a Marshall head while Alastair played his Gibson through a Fender Blues Junior III. Sara played her Fender Jazz bass through an MXR DI Box. We don’t really use many pedals to be honest. Luca played a very small jazz drum kit to achieve a snappy and controlled sound. Other than that, most of it is due to the great production work done by Adam Edwards of Lonely Voyage Records, who truly pimped up our sound!

Speaking of gear, what is your view on technology in music?

In the context of this band, we like to keep it minimal when it comes to gear. We’ve never been fans of vast arrays of pedals or laptop stuff. The more tech, the more that can go wrong! We’d also prefer to focus on the musical aspect of what we write. Having said that, we’re definitely going to be focusing more on our sound for the next record.

What is your favourite piece of gear or the one that makes your life easier?

We wouldn’t be able to survive without our dictaphone!

How do you usually go about creating a new song? Is there something like “usual” when it comes to writing new music or, to paraphrase Hans Zimmer, do you have to break rules in order to move forward?

With this kind of music, its easy to create a song comprising of short sections that repeat, and then move onto another section and do the same thing, and then another – we really want to write stuff that flows a bit more, revisit melodies and chord progressions in different ways and generally make the song feel less linear.

Which bands or artists influence your work?

Lots and lots. Funnily enough, none of us really listen to math-rock/post-rock that much anymore. We all come from slightly different musical backgrounds, so everything from Funk, Hip-Hop, Gospel Music and Electronica to Pop and 90s Grunge is thrown into the mix. You’d be surprised how many of our musical ideas come from artists that have nothing to do with our scene.

Do you see your music as serving a purpose beyond music?

It might not have a purpose for the outsider, but it certainly does for the four of us. Creating music with YBYB is a pretty important creative outlet for us all. Even though we all have jobs in the creative industry, our band gives us the chance to fully experiment and push ourselves with no limitation.

Don't Join the Circus (back cover)
Don’t Join the Circus (back cover)

The album was released as a limited edition 12” vinyl. What made you gravitate towards this format?

It was something we wanted to do for a long time, but when the guys from Lonely Voyage Records approached us, we thought it was the perfect time to finally implement that idea, as that is media they primarily deal with.

With the album out, what else do you have in the pipeline?

We’ve started working on new material for our third release…

Don’t Join the Circus is out now; order it from Bandcamp. Follow You Break, You Buy on Facebook.

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