Interview: Gang Fatale

Gang Fatale would be one of the first collectives that may spring to mind when it comes to thinking about underground club music today. Not only do their unique factors revolve around the variety of artistic media they collectively explore, but also their capability of developing a sound specifically relatable to their group. Through their Boiler Room sets and monthly shows on NTS Radio Manchester, they have shown expansive musical knowledge ranging from Jersey club to R&B and hard drum tunes – an attribute reflected in their individual work.

Sitting on three well-received Pleasures & Qs mixtapes as well as solo projects, Gang Fatale now release their first distributed single, “Key Amour”/”On Ligne”, featuring collaborative productions between Basile, Neana and TD_Nasty. The two tracks on the record highlight the fact that on one hand, these producers are not one to shy away from experimenting with sharp transitions and percussive elements, yet at the same time they can look into sounds with a more tender feel. We spoke with the three members about Gang Fatale and their collaboration on this project.

When Gang Fatale was first formed by yourself along with Riz Fresco, did you have a predetermined vision of the direction in which you’d wanted the collective to go in?
Neana: “When we started the collective we had no structure of where we were going to take it, other than to push our friends to make the best music they could and to help them spread it.”

In terms of the type of sound Gang Fatale has as a whole, it is safe to say that most people would immediately identify your collective with a club sound. However when listening to your radio shows and guest mixes, there are instances where we get to hear different types of music which do not necessarily fall under that specific category. With this being said, where do your individual musical influences stem from?
Basile: “In my case, the first thing to have an impact on me was probably popular radio shows and music channels on TV in [the] early 2000s when I was somewhere between 7-10 years old, but I was more into the rap and R&B side of it. Then between 12 and 15 years old, I got into 70s rock, like Pink Floyd, The Doors etc… Then Justice came in and the whole Ed Banger thing, as well as Metronomy, so I went more into electronic stuff.
“I started to take some piano lessons (mainly jazz, pretty randomly) around 14/15 years old because I wanted to play in a band. I had no piano at home so my older brother (who also does music) gave me Reason software and a midi keyboard. This is how I started to look deeply for music that has a lot of keys/synths in it, slowly sliding away from rock/pop to more jazz, funk and weirder stuff.
“At the same time, I discovered new sounds with Ed Banger. Feadz, who was the most influenced by Ghetto house, Baltimore, hip-hop [and] funk, was the one for me. From these scenes, I just started digging more and more into their influences, discovering the history of electronic music. Also this was just when I moved to a Paris suburb and I got back to listening to French and US rap/R&B. I’m a music nerd anyway so I’m just listening to everything, but I know what I like in very different music genres, [whether] it’s club music or more intimate pieces of music.”
TD_Nasty: “My family had a big influence on what I was listening to – my dad was deejaying 90s big room piano dance stuff, my mum was into mid 80s/early 90s hip-hop and pop music and my uncle was into lots of metal rock. So I’m on a very similar wavelength to Basile in terms of musical influences. Then when I hit 15/16, I started getting into production and electronic music, listening to (like Basile said) Metronomy, Justice, Little Dragon. I then started to make music similar to those bands, R&B electro pop stuff, not knowing a whole lot about club music until I was maybe 18/19.”

Did those influences have any part to play during the production of these two tracks? If they did, in what way were they relevant?
Basile: “Yes I guess, just as any music I’m making. So on these two tracks you can hear Prince, 80s funk and post-punk/new wave influences, atmospheric, nature and urban sounds. In my case, I just feed myself with any tunes that sound good and empowering to me. Then I try to develop my own personal thing with my very own perspective – who am I and where I stand. If you are here just to replicate any genre/era/situation that doesn’t correspond to your story, it’s not really going to be interesting in my opinion and it’s not going last.”
TD_Nasty: “I agree with Basile on this one. Both tracks have different feels, but you can definitely hear a coherence between them in terms of atmosphere, sound pallet and to me, even a time in which they were written.”
Neana: “These tracks definitely feel like they came from shared feels from each of their specific environments. They could still fit in with our favourite genres though, whether that is house or R&B and new age flavours.”

How did this project between you three occur?
Basile: “I started these two songs at different times last year. At first it was really just some of the music I was making. I was not thinking about where it could go when I start recording some synths and drums. Then I became (more and more [of]) a lazy guy when I was making music on my own to finish it, so it’s really good to work with the guys at Gang Fatale, I can just send some raw demos to everyone and say, “Hey who wants to work on this?”
“On both of these tracks it was TD_Nasty who said he was down to do some stuff each time. Then Neana put these crazy drums on “On Ligne” and he’s always helping us with final details and mix-downs. But I think we started to really care about these tracks, especially “Key Amour”, when I found the vocal sample “I Have Faith In These Desolate Times” from Terence Trent D’Arby. It added another dimension to the track which made us want to release it.”
TD_Nasty: “I remember getting a demo of “On Ligne” way back – maybe a year ago (it didn’t sound anything like how it does now), it was more of a mellow, hip-hop thing. I layered some guitar on it, did a bit of structuring as well and got a little bit stuck on it then I left it alone. I opened the project again a few months later when I was at Neana’s place thinking, “There is definitely something cool about this, you wanna hop on?” So I handed over the project and he lays down some new drums and really brought it to life.
“With “Key Amour”, Basile had laid down pretty much everything with the track apart from maybe the drums and I wanted to give it more of a human feel, so I started to layer some chords and a melody on the guitar that would harmonise with the keys. I then got a version of the song back a week later and there were these crazy drums and a vocal that just fit the track really well, making it sound so huge.”
Neana: “As they said, I got involved in the later stage of “On Ligne”. Following some drum work with TD, Basile and I worked on it one chilly week in Grenoble. I don’t know about him but I was really channelling our most recent experiences of walking along a river, throwing snowballs from mountain-top monuments. I did some mixing only on the A-side, using a bright summer as inspiration for a shiny mix – this one landed in our inbox at just the right time.”

What are the meanings behind the song titles and how do they tie in with the music?
Basile: “Song titles were a long time debate between us three. Each time it’s both English and French words combined together. We chose “On Ligne” as when I first started this track it was cold and I used a recording of a Paris tube siren when the door opens. In French, a tube line is called a ‘ligne’, so shout out to the Ligne 6 I’m using all the time. “Key Amour” has this double sense between keys, as you have keys to open doors and keys as music chords. Amour is just love, love is the key, we all know that right? Especially in desolate times.”
Neana: “Nice.”

It is clear that there is a strong contrast between the two tracks, with “On Ligne” coming across as quite mellow whereas “Key Amour” appears to be more upbeat. Was this done intentionally?
Basile: “At first it was just “Key Amour” that was supposed to be a single, but we had “On Ligne” sleeping in our secret fatale files and we found out there were common elements between the two, but with different energies – very lush synths with TD_Nasty’s guitars melted in it, echoes drums pattern and the almighty cowbells.”
TD_Nasty: “I don’t think it was intentional per se, like Basile says we had “Key Amour” done and “On Ligne” was sat in our folders for a while. It was just a case of when Basile came to Manchester and all of us being in one room listening to music that we had made together. It just seemed to fit! To me, “On Ligne” definitely feels like it’s the second part to “Key Amour.””
Neana: “For sure style-wise they are different, but the shared palette is there. I can recognise TD & Baz very specifically in each sound, so it’s really great to be able to combine them in one release.”

Whenever I encounter a new release, I tend to direct a lot of my attention towards the artwork – specifically I like to focus on how it relates to the music. Would you all say that there is a strong connection between the two forms of art in this release?
Basile: “The artwork was thought about after the tracks were done. We tried a few different things but this one stayed.”
TD_Nasty: “When I listen to both of these tracks, I can definitely see myself hearing all the textures used in the songs being represented in the space in the artwork. I think it’s a good fit.”
Neana: “Yep so Seedy did the artwork post-music and made something that straightaway suited the twisted natural environment that we were hearing.”

The versatile use of drums stands out on both tracks.
Basile: “I think a lot of music productions right now (in club music or more rap/R&B stuff) tend to have very clean, precise and hard hitting drums. We like to be more dirty, unstable and imperfect, it’s more honest to me. When a song (especially in club music) sounds too clean and perfect it just scares me.”
TD_Nasty: “The drums definitely drive the tracks, like in “On Ligne” the kick drum only came in half-way through the track, but I think that makes it so much more impactful than if it was playing all the way through. With “Key Amour” though, I feel like the song could sound more like a ballad. I was speaking to Neana and I said to him, “You can imagine a band playing this, with the drums being played as if there is someone behind a drum kit.” I think all the drums have a very human element to them and not just synthesised robotic club drums.”
Neana: “Yeah with “On Ligne” the drums are so strange to me, I made a whole new beat and we just combined it with an original pattern… Sounds like ten people jamming out at once. Imperfect chaos driving calm harmonies.”

In the recent podcast your collective did for Rinse FM, there were mentions of future individual projects from Basile as well as TD_Nasty. Can we expect to hear similarities in terms of vibes between this release and those two?
Basile: “I think you can recognize that I’m using the same synth for every production and creating similar aesthetics on drums. It’s hard to say but you might find similarities in term of mood and intentions, but it’s not the same result. Besides that, my EP (which is going to be released really soon I promise) is more intimate, has a specific narration and it’s only me on the production and artistic direction so it’s not the same result.”
TD_Nasty: “I think so! It’s definitely a snapshot of what I’m currently making and where my sound is right now. There are tracks for the club as well as for general listening, a vocal hit that features Clara La San that I’m super excited to come out. My influence of funk and soul definitely plays a huge part in it, I’m just excited for people to hear it.”

Your group now consists of ten members from various areas within the UK as well as France and the States, you’ve released a nice selection of mixtapes and have been circulating the radio network for a couple of years, landing a regular slot on NTS Manchester. What more do you hope to accomplish with Gang Fatale?
Basile: “I’m just hoping in the future I’ll be able to work more IRL with everyone, making more exciting music that’s worth being promoted and delivered in public spaces and networks. I wish I’d do more live music and jams also… I’m just pretty busy and stuck in my city right now, far from everyone. Being part of Gang Fatale had me playing in exciting events too and I just wish it continues like that.”
TD_Nasty: “I just want to write and play music with my friends as much as possible, IRL and URL. There is nothing better than being in the same room as someone writing a track and working on ideas, then your faces light up when the ideas come to life. I live for jamming.”
Neana: “Jamming <3. I just want to enjoy more of what we already have; opportunities to bring GF together to DJ and write. Hopefully collating music from these sessions into more shared & individual member-focused projects through GF in the future. Trying to work on more recorded and live visual pieces utilising the talented Seedy. Just wanted to use this moment to send love to the gang and everyone who thinks [the] music is nice.”

“Key Amour”/“On Ligne” is out now and available to buy via Boomkat and iTunes.

Michelle Ulor