This year’s Camden Crawl festival, freshly rebranded CC14, is fast approaching and with more than 250 live artists, DJs and specialist fringe events lined up for the Summer Solstice weekend, it’s looking pretty unmissable. Hard accurately to predict what the weather’s going to be doing with itself a couple of weeks down the line but, rest assured, there’s enough good music to complement any elusive sunny spells and/or distract you from the London rain.
The festival also comes complete with a free app, which not only lists all the various acts taking part but allows you to have a listen to some of their music in advance, which is useful when trying to decide who you should check out. In this preview, we showcase one of the bands gracing this year’s line-up: London duo, Rebekah Raa and Nic Nell, who go by the nom-de-pop Rainer.
Rainer’s first EP, Hope/Satin/Glass/Dreams, which came out last year, had all the right ingredients of a contemporary pop classic and served as an appetite-whetting starter to precede the main course of their debut album, due out next year. Here Rebekah and Nic talk to Londonist about how they first joined forces, their music and playing at CC14.
How did Rainer come to be?
We knew each other through mutual friends and when Rebekah’s old band broke up we had a go at working together and the rest is history, as they say.
If you had to define the Rainer style/genre of music, what would you say it was?
Left field melancholic technicolor late-night pop.
What was the first song you created together?
Glass off the EP was the first one we did together. We revisited it for the EP and finally managed to finish it.
Speaking of which, you’ve had some fantastic responses to Hope/Satin/Glass/Dreams. Was it exciting working on your first EP?
We finished it and mastered it the same week our first single, Girls, came out so it was all a bit manic. Up til 5am the night before, hearing glitches and bits of distortion in the mixes on headphones we’d never heard before… last minute swapping out vocal takes with mastering booked for 9am. We managed about three hours sleep before heading deliriously to mastering…
Did any particular song prove easier than others to finish off?
Satin was the quickest any of our tracks have come together from start to finish. Hope was pretty quick too and written at the same time, whereas Dreams had been knocking around for a while.
How did you go about planning your first ever live show?
The first show we did was a friends and family one ahead of the Great Escape last year. We brought a smoke machine but got told that it would set the fire alarm off. We were playing different songs as half of those we’re playing now hadn’t been written at that point.
Has your live performance changed much since then?
It’s been a matter of working out what works live in different situations and what works together. We’ve also got some interstitial bits between songs to build atmosphere or so that the whole thing flows better. It’s been fun going through the tracks and finding sounds to cut up and make new intros and segues for gigs. We’re also looking forward to involving visuals in the future.
Do you have a preference between the two main aspects of being musicians, namely writing/recording and playing live?
They’re very different processes. Nothing really beats the moment of creation – writing something new or making something that sounds amazing. But just making records in a studio, you never get to directly interact with people hearing them, so playing live, when you have great sound, can really change your own relationship with a song so it keeps it living and evolving. You make music to share and to hopefully move people so playing live is the most direct way you can do that.
You’ve been spending time in the studio recently- have you been creating your first album or is it for a new EP?
We’ve been working on finishing all the songs for the album and then we’re going to work backwards from there and work out what we’re going to release next. Looking forward to writing more songs.
What can you tell us about your work on it so far?
We want the album to work as a record you want to listen to as a whole. So we’ve been bringing everything we’ve written sonically up to date so that they all sit together in the same world. We’re getting close to being able to choose the tracklist.
Have you ever been to the Camden Crawl festival yourselves before?
And who are you excited to see live this year?
We want to see Sophie live but that might be the day before we play.
Do you get to check out live gigs in London much?
Not as much as we used to.
What was the last gig you caught?
The Range at the Old Blue Last was brilliant and we recently went to see Polica at The Troxy which was also brilliant – such a beautiful venue.
CC14 festival takes place on 20 + 21 June. Ticket prices start at £27.50. Rainer play at Beatrice on Saturday 21 June (10pm). For up-to-date lineup and full event details visit www.thecamdencrawl.com