For a two-year-old band about to play the Fillmore, U.K’s Fenech-Soler appeared almost too relaxed. I talked with the quartet backstage before they opened for popular dance group Groove Armada. More than just some new band to draw younger people to the shows, Fenech-Soler collaborated on the “Paper Romance” track from Groove Armada’s album Black Light. They’re also making friends on the dance scene like Alan Braxe. For now, they view these events as simply a means to get more gigs. They may not remain unknown for long. As I mentioned in my concert review, they’ve converted many audiences into fans.
Since their early teens, they’ve made music on home computers in the village of Kings Cliffe, north of London. They formed Fenech-Soler in 2008. It features singer Ben Duffy and guitarist Ross Duffy, both brothers, and friends bassist/keyboardist Daniel Soler and drummer Andrew Lindsay. Despite the indie rock instruments, they sound more electronic. Listening to their three minute dance bursts reminded me a little of Daft Punk. However, the song “Battlefields” incorporates a modern R&B edge. The members of Fenech-Soler are friendly guys and, if you’re in Europe, don’t miss their impressive live sets. They’re on tour now and their newest single, “Stop and Stare,” drops on April 19th.
What is the meaning of your group’s name?
Daniel: It’s my full last name. It’s Maltese.
Ben: We wanted to avoid being a “The” band. We specifically wanted to choose a name that doesn’t categorize the band.
How would you describe the way your music sounds?
Ben: You could say we’re electro-synth and pop with a modern NERD/ Neptunes feel. We have a clubby edge, but make songs that sound good on radio.
Was it difficult going from jamming at home to playing gigs?
Ben: Well, we made sure first that we spent a lot of time getting the sound right behind closed doors before we felt comfortable enough to go and play shows. It didn't take too long once we had decided to go and play live before the gigs got better and the crowds got bigger. London is a very tight circuit that takes a bit of time to crack, but after a while, you can make a name for yourself. There are some venues/nights that are much better than others.
Which of you is studying music and what areas are you specializing in?
Ben: Ross studies songwriting at Brighton Institute of Music. Brighton is an amazing place for music.
How does a typical track get started? How does each member give his input on the songs?
Ben: We try to keep it bandy. Songs like “Battlefields” develop out of jam sessions. We have two studios. We write the tracks at the house where Ross and I live and then take them to Andy's to be produced. It's nice to work on tracks in two different environments. It allows the music to change and gives each member room to make their mark.
Daniel: Unlike indie rock bands, it can be hard to record electro quickly. A lot of the time, you need someone else’s help on songs.
Live, I noticed all of you except Andy play keyboards at some point. Does everybody contribute their own keyboard lines in addition to their main instruments/roles?
Ben: We wanted to be more of a 'synth' band first and than a rock band. So we added the bass guitar and electric guitar later on. We definitely started out as a club band and then added the 'indie' instruments. We love the rawness and energy you can achieve with adding them. We always try to make our live version of a track different from the recorded tracks, so there are certain parts that get put together for the live show.
Would the band decide to add an extra member on keys? Do Ross or Daniel find stashing their picks somewhere awkward playing live?
Ben: Ha-ha, no I think we are just fine with the current line up. It is always difficult to make 'dance' music work live because there are things you just can’t do live. That is why most people decide to just have a laptop or no drums. I think we are managing to balance it well.
Daniel: I don’t see playing live versions as a hindrance, just different.
What bands, new or old, are each member particularly fond of?
Ben: I really love N.E.R.D… and we played with them on Tuesday!
Ross: I'm a big fan of Hudson Mohawke. We saw him at SXSW.
Dan: Still loving The Presets from Australia. Hard to beat.
Andy: Weezer is a band I’ve always respected.
How does everybody feel about how the US tour went? Would you come back?
Ben: We would come back in a second! We’ve had the most mental but incredible week. Everybody has been so nice to us. San Francisco has been the highlight without a doubt.
Thanks you guys so much.
Photos taken by Kevin Gustafson
For U.K and European tour dates visit Fenech-Soler's Myspace page.
Fenech-Soler's official website
Watch the music video for "Stop and Stare" below: