Listen Up! Music Interview: I Ching

Dave Newbury
By Dave Newbury Last edited 74 months ago
Listen Up! Music Interview: I Ching

It’s an exciting, if not bold, move for I Ching. Not only are they releasing their debut double A-sided single, It’s Me / Drive, but they’re doing so on a brand new record label, Best Fit Recordings. The buzz has been unparalleled and, judging by their shows, deservedly so.

For bands formed at art school, doing The Biz differently is hardly ground breaking, but for Rollo Smallcombe and Kevin Emre — backed with Andrew Ford and Tom Jones live —  the ability to combine the slick pop of Prefab Sprout with ESG's hazy groove fuels a progressively 2012 sound without any hipster pandering.

Emre says he’s decided to leave the meaning of I Ching up to us. A quick trip to the library reveals it’s a classic Chinese text of divination or possibly a character from the Wonder Woman comics. We wanted to know more.

What do I Ching sound like in a sentence?
An accumulation of children who've been sent to bed without any dinner.

Describe your musical philosophy.  
Establish what our musical ancestors have left behind and build on that in the most contemporary framework using only excerpts from our past and any available instrument that's in arms reach.

You’ve signed with brand new label Best Fit Recordings. How did that come about and why did you choose to be part of a new project rather than an established label?
Best Fit is the brain child of Rich Thane who decided to start a label and decided that we should be his first seed. Signing with Best Fit was appropriate to us as we are a new band and they are a new label. I guess all our paths just crossed at the same time.

There’s a separation between I Ching recorded and I Ching live, bringing in two extra members for shows. So do you see yourself as a band or a duo’s project?  How does it work?
Without the other two guys playing with us live there would be no I Ching live. So in that context they're as much a part of the band as we are. It just happens that we wrote the songs and then invited them to help us achieve those songs live. We like to work backwards; it’s just the kinda people we are.

Why did you want to start making music together?
There was never really a “want” to make music together. We we're just hanging out, getting to know each other over some guitar strings and second-hand Roland equipment.

You have a very ethereal and smooth 80’s sound, but one which is both dramatic, complex and constantly revealing. How did this sound come about?
We didn't set out with a plan to have an 80's sound as such. If anything, our influences are more 60's and dance or electronic based. I guess because we don't have big or crunchy distorted guitars you can't label us as a typical indie rock band. Due to the fact that our music has synthesizer elements in it, it's easy to slap that 80's tag on it. It's amazing that there were such advances in technology for music in the 80's then in the mid 90's the guitars came back in and electronica went out of fashion. I guess it was just the final comedown from all the ecstasy.

In what area of London are you based, and has that area influenced I Ching’s music?
We're divided between North and South, but London as a whole is very inspirational in itself, so it all plays its part.

What’s your favorite London venue and why?
Well we haven't played there but it would be great to play Brixton Academy.

What’s the London gig circuit like for bands starting out and what’s the support like?
There's a consistent circulation of bands forming and playing in London so people’s attention spans are often drawn to the newest flavour of the month. The gig circuit can be cruel but also gratifying at the same time. It's easy to play lots of gigs around London. The hard part is keeping people’s attention.

Where would I Ching like to play if they could play anywhere in London?
Pete Townshend's house. His tinnitus condition needs to be finalised.

What’s your favorite…
…London monument?
304 Holloway Road because so much magic happened there. (Joe Meek’s house- DN)
…tube line and why?
Victoria line — the essential route to any I Ching encounter.
…place to hang out?
The Waiting Room in Stoke Newington has some excellent nights.
…Area for food?
New Malden high street has some excellent hidden Korean delicacies.

What’s been I Ching’s career highlight so far?
Getting to release our music on vinyl is obviously any young music lover's dream, so it has to be that.

What are your future plans?
Play more shows and write some hits.

I Ching release It’s Me / Drive through Best Fit Recordings, 23 April. They play Servant Jazz Quarters, Dalston tonight, 23 April, £3 on the door from 7pm.

Last Updated 23 April 2012