Dressmaker - making and rule-breaking
dressmaker hail from Spain, France, the US and the UK and have so far put out a single - Skeleton Girl - and an EP called Glass. They have quickly made an impact on the music press, radio presenters and audiences.
Seven minute debut track
Their debut single Skeleton Girl broke all the radio rules by being seven minutes long. It turns out that that’s the short version as Tom explains!
We were going to have twelve minutes of it, then said let’s get it shorter. When we did this song and released it, I never thought that we’d have anyone pick up on it or even write about it. I never thought we’d get in NME with our EP or Vice magazine would want to release it for us. It was just, we like the song, release it.
Though they are happy to have got radio play, dressmaker say they are not obsessed with making things radio friendly - they think people take a lot of notice of blogs or word of mouth recommendations. But they say they are into making good tunes.
We don’t want to be some completely obnoxious confrontational noise band. We want to actually make it listenable.
Starting with the bass
When it comes to writing, Tom says it’s always something they do together.
We’re not one of those bands that kind of goes, OK I’ve written a song and the bass will go like this, the drums will be like this, the guitar will be like this. You wouldn’t think from the music that we’re a kind of jammy band, but all the songs really come from jams.
Charles says even when he is writing vocal parts, he thinks about the bass, and David says that’s usually where things begin.
Normally we start with the bass, it’s more bass and drums, and then I add something with the guitar and Charles adds something, and we try and have this kind of dialogue between him and me, guitar and vocals.
“We’re a lot more aggressive and louder and more confrontational live”
Having proper tunes doesn’t mean they fight shy of confrontation completely though. Live they are a whirlwind of distorted guitar, powerful bass, compelling vocals, and drums. They don’t aim to recreate their recordings says Tom. And even their favourite cover - a deliciously dark and warped version of The Ronettes’ Be My Baby - comes out different each time from what we have seen.
I think we’re a lot more aggressive and louder and more confrontational live than we are on record. I think that’s good because personally I don’t like to see bands just go and play perfectly.
Charles says performing live is one of the only things he really loves doing, and David loves having real freedom on stage.
For us they are two different concepts and we do it as we like it live. There’s never a restriction, we don’t mind adding things, removing things. Personally I enjoy it, to know that the recording is completely different to what we do live.
Visual effects like strobes also play a big part, though things don’t always turn out as planned. Their smoke machine has driven away the occasional audience and even forced the band off stage as they couldn’t breathe. dressmaker like to blame Charles who bought the biggest machine possible. Though Charles pins it on Tom!
Usually, when it gets really bad it’s Tom’s fault, he’s going ‘More smoke more smoke!’ and I think he has no idea what’s going on.
We have a thing, when we finish the set, just to finish off, you can’t see your hand in front of your face and you’ve got strobe lights going on and the smoke will clear and the stage is just empty apart from feedback and stuff. When we get it right it’s really effective. It takes a bit of co-ordination, that’s all.
Ignoring the rules
dressmaker record most of their music themselves, with David recording the guitars, and Charles mixing and mastering. He’s studying production, and cheerfully dispenses with the ‘rules’ at times.
I shouldn’t be doing the mastering. I was ignoring most of the things I was taught. I actually sent it to one of the people teaching me, when we finished it, and said here, in case you want to show students what not to do.
Asking them how they describe their sound provokes a fair bit of debate and Tom says he is wary of genre tags.
If I had to, noisy post punk, but post punk is a term that’s like, is just thrown out to describe so many bands. I really don’t like the term punk, it’s just thrown around liberally and it’s kind of disrespectful to bands that were truly post punk.
Their inspirations include Swans and The Jesus and Mary Chain, with David confessing to a deep love for their debut album.
For me one of my obsessions and reasons for doing this band is the Psychocandy album, but wanting to make music with more balls or with more intensity.
Of course there’s another iconic band says Tom.
I think we don’t really mention it that much because every band, no matter what genre they’re in, always says that Joy Division are a massive influence. But they are. They are undeniably a massive influence on this band.
Charles then completely shocks his bandmates by saying Joy Division are not an influence on him!
My favourite bands are bands that put on good shows and when I was younger I would always listen to the Three One G bands, so it was more like thrashy grindcore kind of bands and things like that. Then I started getting into better songwriters, people that had some pop sensibility behind them. That’s why I like this band because it has the intensity, and it has this noisy thing to it, and also songs there.