They created an underground electronic pop; meet Tale Of Us
What’s On teams up with Hype to bring you an interview with Tale Of Us ahead of the return of Groove On The Grass on April 18 at Dubai Emirates Golf Club.
The story of Tale Of Us could have been very different. But various things conspired in a short period of time to set Matteo Milleri and Karm Conte on the journey that has since taken them around the world as hugely in-demand producers and performers. Those things include Visionquest starting a new label, both lads dropping out of business and law school within weeks of each other, and Seth Troxler being typically warm and friendly at a gig in Italy. Without these things, there would likely have been no underground electronic pop revolution and no Tale Of Us.
If you’re familiar with the term ‘underground electronic pop’, you know the music it entails. If you aren’t, mention of acts like Benoit & Sergio, Luca C & Brigante and Pillow Talk in the same sentence will surely ensure your penny drops: they’re all acts that have focussed on proper verses, real vocals, choruses, bridges and all the rest of the things you’d expect of easy-access popular music, but fused onto deep electronic basslines and groove-laden percussive lines. It’s been the sound of now for a while, frankly, and has no doubt helped oil dance music’s transition into overground circles in the last year or so.
At the heart of it all is Milanese duo Tale Of Us. Initially though, this young twenty-something pair – despite already being friends – were individually focused on making raw tech-house, minimal and electroclash variously influenced by the likes of Luciano, Superpitcher and Miss Kitten. Between them, they even released on Barraca Music and the odd Cocoon compilation. But at the same time, the friends had another project going that was inspired by pop music, soundtracks and films and was never intended to be released on dance labels.
All that changed, though, when the pair got talking to techno pin-up Seth Troxler, who was just about to start a label with friends Lee Curtiss, Shaun Reeves and Ryan Crosson. After sending the Detroit dandy some of their music Troxler signed it up for the label that was Visionquest. That was a few years ago now; the track was put out as part of the Dark Song EP and is still one of only a few releases the pair has offered to date.
Since then they have released twice on what is best considered as their home label – Life & Death, the hugely considered and boutique outlet run by DJ Tennis that also releases music from the likes of Mind Against and Ten Walls. Last year the stylish, clean cut pair also returned to Visionquest, but much less predictably also popped up on Richie Hawtin’s all-conquering minimal techno label, Minus. That EP, entitled Another Earth, marked a new direction of sorts – it was a dark, stark and stripped back three-track affair of sleek techno peppered with instrumental hooks, subtle percussion and elongated grooves.
Ever since Tale Of Us first emerged there have been rumours of a debut full length – something that seems perfectly natural for a pair so focussed on soundtrack music, songs, proper structure and a wider range of emotions than your average dance duo. As of yet, though, it hasn’t materialised despite the pair reporting that they have “hundreds” of unfinished tracks on their computers. The problem? They are perfectionists.
“We’re trying to work on our album,” they told online magazine Resident Advisor recently. “We actually wrote an album two years ago but now we’re doing a new one, so this time I’m not saying we’re doing an album. We took out some stuff, broke it into pieces. EPs in house music work better – the album arrangement is broader and very complicated for us. People really take albums too lightly. It’s like, ‘Here’s the stuff I’ve been doing for the last three months.” Some are really good, but I feel that when there’s a concept missing you just waste a lot of tracks. Two EPs would have been better.”
Given their predilection for movie soundtracks and involving soundscapes, it’s no wonder Tale Of Us are most often live performers rather than DJs. They have taken their show all over the world from sunny Ibiza terraces to darkened basement clubs and weave slurred and smeared synths, elastic basslines and supple chords into cohesive wholes that both make you want to dance and fill your brain with imagery at the same time. They do so using a range of hardware toys and software tools and you’ll get your chance to hear the pair in action on Friday when they play at Groove On The Grass.
“All good music should tell a story,” they say. “Tales of experience; tales of joy; tales of love lost and won.” So far Tale Of Us have been more than true to their word because there are few soundsmiths as considered as these when it comes to compelling musical narratives.
Groove On The Grass, Emirates Golf Club, Dubai. Friday, 7pm to 3am. Dhs160 in advance, Dhs200 on the door. Metro: Nakheel