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Folk-electronic duo Malpas on how living over a hundred miles apart has helped their music

PUBLISHED: 14:31 21 July 2015 | UPDATED: 14:57 22 July 2015

Malpas: Ali Forbes and Andy Savours

Malpas: Ali Forbes and Andy Savours

Archant

Dalston’s Andy Savours tells Alex Bellotti why he’s stepping out from behind the producer’s chair.

As a music producer, Andy Savours has plenty of pedigree, having worked with the likes of The Horrors, Sigur Ros and My Bloody Valentine. When a few years ago he sat down to record some demos for musician Ali Forbes, however, he suddenly felt such a connection with the music that the pair were inspired to form a new band, Malpas.

After years of honing their distinctive electro-folk sound, the two-piece are now releasing their debut album, Rain River Sea, on July 27. To celebrate, they will also be playing The Islington on Wednesday, showcasing the interesting dynamic between Forbes’ acoustic melodies and Savour’s resonating electronic undertones.

For the latter, although the band’s sound comes from a clear meeting of influences, what attracted him to Forbes’ songs was their twist on usual folk structures.

“I thought they had a sort of atmosphere that reminded me of some electronic stuff I’m influenced by as well, so maybe we could fuse them together,” says the Dalston resident. “These demos were quite reliant on loops and repetition, so they weren’t just folk songs; they used folk instrumentation but the structure and mood of it was like electronic or dance music. I thought it would be quite a natural step to use some of those elements in production.”

Stepping out from the producer’s chair naturally presented Savours with challenges he hadn’t faced before, and he admits there’s a greater responsibility that comes with releasing a record you have written yourself. “When you’re producing stuff, you’re one step removed from the front line,” he explains. “It is somebody else’s song and really somebody else’s vision which you’re just helping them with, so when you’re putting something out there yourself it can be a bit scary.”

Nonetheless, after completing their first song and recent single, Under Our Sails, within a day, the pair realised they had stumbled upon a sound that was identifiably their own: soft and tender, yet at the same time rhythmic and full of driving balladry.

To develop this further, they had to overcome the potential songwriting hurdle of Forbes living in Birmingham. Ultimately, though, Savours found the benefits of modern technology allowed them to not just overcome this problem, but also use it to their advantage.

“There’s been a fair few train rides and journeys up the M40,” he concedes, “but one of the great things about making music today is that there’s so much you can do via email, and it actually became quite an important part of our process.

“If you’re working in isolation on one piece of music, it means somebody gets to go down a route with it in their own way without the other person standing over them. Some of the stuff Ali did to the music and some of the stuff I did probably wouldn’t have happened if the other one had been present because it would have been channelled in another direction.

“You always need to be in the same place working on stuff at some point in the process, but I think in some ways that separation led to results that we wouldn’t have come to otherwise.”

Malpas release Rain River Sea on July 27 and play the Islington on Wednesday. Visit theislington.com

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