While Ben Power was recording an album under his Blanck Mass moniker, Fuck Buttons’ Andrew Hung used the band’s downtime to start his own side project. With Dawn Hunger he leaves the epic drones behind and produces warped and somewhat funky electro-pop, which he doesn’t play live himself. Instead, he invited vocalist Claire Inglis and multi-instrumentalist Matthew de Pulford to perform the songs onstage. We caught up with Andrew, Claire and Matthew for a quick chat about loudness and the intensity of live shows
Andrew Hung interview by Brenda Bosma, Claire Inglis and Matthew de Pulford interview by Gerlin Heestermans,
and photos shot by Daniel Evans and Brendan Baker in London
‘Loudness is a tool really’
With Fuck Buttons you’re known to have created your own sonic universe; it’s very loud and intense. What’s the attraction of loud music for you?
‘Loudness is a tool really. It’s something that allows one to be immersed in the music a whole lot more. It creates a space and therefore also a distance; it permits you to create big things. The kind of music that we as Fuck Buttons are interested in lets us feel a certain way. I compare it with swimming in a vast ocean or flying through the air. These are the sorts of images that Fuck Buttons conjures for me. That’s what we enjoy. Loudness contributes to that.’
What about quiet music?
‘I like to listen to a lot of minimal music. It’s personal music, close to you. With Fuck Buttons it’s pretty much the opposite. We try to make grand gestures. Dawn Hunger is much more insular, I would say. I wanted to do something very different than Fuck Buttons. I wanted to go somewhere else. Dawn Hunger doesn’t make me feel spaced, actually it makes me feel claustrophobic, which is something I also appreciate in music.’
Why did you feel the need to write and compose it for others instead of playing it yourself?
‘The music was written for Claire really, for her voice. We got together a few years ago. She wanted to sing in a band and I happened to be making music. I love female vocals and I am a terrible vocalist myself, so it was a practical thing to get together. I’m not really interested in performing this music because it was written for someone else to perform. Things are also constantly in flux. The two of them have been playing for half a year now. I’ve been working with them for over two years. The process works really well. It’s like a conversation where they are interpreting the music and I am writing it. I love that dynamic. It’s not something that I’m used to do, but it works.’
How about their live shows?
‘They’re incredible live. Claire goes nuts onstage. She is amazing, a total frontwoman. I catch myself laughing and smiling when I see them play. I love it. She totally owns that stage, it’s very intense.’
Claire Inglis and Matthew de Pulford
Fuck Buttons is known to be loud, VERY LOUD. Will Dawn Hunger be just as loud?
M: ‘I don’t think volume is the objective of the music really; intensity is. We want to produce a very strong effect. And it is quite loud, but that’s not the aim of it.’
Can you tell us a bit about the collaboration with Andrew? How free are you in your interpretations of his work?
C: ‘Oh, it’s hell! Kidding. It’s very organic and freeform. Being a vocalist it’s a natural progress to add nuances and improvise. It’s all part of the live process.’
How does a rehearsal compare to a live show?
C: ‘A rehearsal looks like Matt and I in a front room. If we’re rehearsing new material, then it’s handy to have Andy around (we all bounce ideas off one another). Live, I lose myself in the music and the performance, so I have no idea what it looks like to the audience. But I can imagine it being pretty disorientating!’
‘There was something about the sound of the keyboard that was making me want to puke. That was penetrating and horrible’
What’s the loudest gig either of you have ever experienced?
M: ‘I remember years ago being really sick at Glastonbury, watching David Bowie. It’s not like the whole sound was really loud but I was standing there and this guy behind me was taking a piss at the same time. Already a slightly unpleasant situation. There was something about the sound of the keyboard that was making me want to puke. That was penetrating and horrible. I think that’s what you get with electronic equipment. It can send out a certain frequency which is painful.
In that context… Years ago I put on a show for Fuck Buttons in Canterbury in this working man’s club. That was before anyone really knew of them, but I loved what they were doing and they’re my friends. The music they were making at the time was a lot more extreme. Pure drone stuff, contact mics on, metal coils, throwing washing machine drums at the floor. I remember watching these two elderly ladies in their eighties looking at each other during the show and then they walked up right in front of them with these angry faces, gave them a look and just walked right out of the door. It was a nice situation set up.’
Dawn Hunger play our Subbacultcha! Magazine Release Party at De Verdieping, TrouwAmsterdam with 18+ and Sheniqua World Tour on 27 April and Here’s Your Future #2 at 013, Tilburg on 28 April. Both shows are free for Subbacultcha! members.