speedy wunderground is changing the way music is produced
As producer Dan Carey’s Speedy Wunderground label release their second annual compilation, we speak to Kate Tempest, Telegram, Natalie Bang Bang and Peluché on the joy of keeping things simple.
The premise of Speedy Wunderground is simple enough. All songs are produced at Dan Carey's South London studio, everything's done in a day (takes are live and recorded in the dark with smoke and lazers) and all instruments are to be downed by midnight (only mixing is allowed to take a day longer). The idea is to create a snapshot or, in the words of Carey, "prevent over-cooking and faff". Oh, and there are to be no lunch breaks.
"We've eaten lunch a few times!" he says today. "Things have changed a bit in the last year, more rules have been broken. Someone's taken my lasers, but I don't mind. I was starting to get known as the guy who uses lasers to make records." It terms of things to be known for, it's a pretty cool one. In fact, Carey, along with Alexis Smith (Speedy's engineer) and Pierre Hall (who helps runs the label) have carved out a real, eclectic niche in an industry dominated by the over-produced, the overly-mastered and the internationally synthetic. "I'm really happy with the second year's output, says Carey. "It's been nice to work with some new artists and see them going on to big things, like Loyle Carner and Telegram. Also, getting to know Teleman through their single led to us making an album together." With Boxed In feat. Formation, Meatraffle and Warmduscher already in the can for year three, Speedy Wunderground is showing no sign of slowing down.
I think the Speedy Wunderground ethos of making a track from scratch, putting it down and getting it mixed and finished so quickly can be petrifying for the artist, but it actually creates this really liberating feeling in the room of trusting that whatever is going to happen is worth happening. What you get with Speedy Wunderground is a kind of raw moment - and if that raw moment has been sat in a studio being tweaked for six months, it loses some of the magic. We just start and there's just no time to even think about not following an idea and completely investing in it. You get to the point during the rehearsal where it's all going well and Dan will say 'right, we're doing a run' and it's lights off, lasers on and it's great, you think you've earned it. There's something really powerful about zoning into the performative nature of what you are doing.
Matt Saunders (Telegram)
We met Dan at one of our early shows at the long-loved Cave club. After the show he near demanded that he record our first single Follow that following week and we were as keen to oblige. Our friendship with him and Alexis (Smith, Speedy Wunderground Engineer) kicked off from there. Months later, the offer to record a track for Speedy Wunderground came about with the added gift of Dan doing a dub remix. We'd heard previous speedy tracks and the manifesto of writing,producing and sending off for cutting in such tight time was an appealing and 'out of our comfort zone' scenario. Rules in recording can produce urgent and inspired results, in a way that wouldn't normally be conjured up. During the second half of the recording, Dan would be running between the two studios in Streatham with us and Alexis tying up the A side, whilst Dan was back at his home studio working on the dub mix. We loved what he did, even though we didn't hear the b-side until listening to it on the 7" and played no part in the arrangement, we still think it's one of the best things "we've done". The whole premise of Speedy Wunderground cuts through the standards of writing/releasing and does things differently.
Natalie Bang Bang
I'd heard about Speedy Wunderground and thought it was a sick idea. Dan and I had mutual friends, but I always wanted to work with him because I thought he was like a mad genius. Eventually we met and the next day decided to make some music using this old tape machine he'd found at a charity shop. Dangerous When Wet came about really quick - the first idea we had, with me on bass and Dan on guitar, the beat coming from the tape machine. Then I shouted down some vocals and it was all done in a flash. The next day I called Dan saying it needed to come out as a Speedy single. I love that it was totally organic and although it adhered to all the rules of a Speedy release, we were doing it for fun. That's always the way with Dan, and that's why the music always sounds great. It's real and it's fun.
We'd always wanted to record with Dan. Our manager Pete managed to get a few of our songs across to him and he liked it so much he came to our next show. That night Dan invited us to be part of the Speedy Wunderground experience. The show was on a Monday night and we were in his studio with him by Wednesday morning starting work recording The Guy with the Gammy Eye. After an improvised intro and a few run-throughs, the song was recorded to tape on the 4th take, then Dan added his signature instrument the swarmatron. We worked quickly, but never felt rushed at all. The song was mixed the next day and sent off to be pressed to vinyl. Dan is a great guy and so inspirational to work with. He really loves and enjoys music. You're driven to feel the music in the moment and not to overthink it at all when you're with him. It's also nice to have someone who you respect believe in what you do.
Read more about Speedy Wunderground here.
Text Matthew Whitehouse