Sign up for our weekly newsletter
NTU Sustainability in Enterprise

Interview: Bent

14 October 09 interview: Paul Klotschkow

After four albums of aural euphoria, and a couple of years off, Nottingham's finest purveyors of electronica are back...

Ever since the release of Programmed To Love in 2000, Bent have been one of the UK’s finest purveyors of electronica, a ridiculously eclectic remixing duo and one of the godfathers of the chill-out scene - and they’re ours, all ours. Four albums of aural euphoria and a couple of years off later, they’re back - with a decade-encapsulating Best of Bent compilation and a brand new live show. So is this the beginning of a new era? With Nail Tolliday now based in London, Simon Mills talks to us about the first ten years of Bent…

So what have you been up to since Intercept! in 2006?
I have been working with various singers with our publisher Warner Chappell Music, as well as with a producer from New York called Lenny Annex. I’ve been DJing a hell of a lot, and getting my head into new things. Also, we’ve been just rehearsing and getting the live shows together. It’s been good to have a break.

How did your recent London gigs go? Was it weird getting back on the Bent-horse?
The shows were great, thanks – it wasn’t too weird, more of a rusty feeling! It’s nice when you’ve been on the road and it all becomes easy, but stop for a couple of years and it takes time to get back up to momentum. Our recent shows have had a cracking audience though. That’s the nice thing about Bent; the fans are really supportive. Our shows are a great slice of our Best of album, and it’s great to be doing it again. I honestly feel that the shows have a lovely vibe to them at the moment.

How did you feel when you got Best Of Bent in your hands? Did it feel like a really significant milestone?
I felt very emotional. It was emotional to put all our hellos in there too, so many good friends and people who’ve been behind us. We’ve been so lucky, had some amazing times and we’ve done more than we thought we’d do. We’ve met some of our heroes - worked with them, even. We’ve learned a hell of a lot, too. I want more.

How did you choose the tracklist?
Well, some are obviously favourites, whilst other tracks were ones that never made it in the past. Then there are singles that we just wouldn’t leave out. If it was up to me, I’d have put Cyclons in Love, Stay the Same and Mummy on there too.

But there’s seven new songs on there. Why didn’t you release them separately?
We wanted to give fans something extra for getting material they already owned - plus if we released new stuff, we like it to be from a relevant time. Some of the tracks are old, so they complement the album and are more suited to being on the Best Of.

A Best Of usually means a line drawn under a career, or the end of an era. Can we expect a new departure, or are you beginning to think about winding down?
I think it is an underline - we’re just seeing how it goes at the moment. Unfortunately, the music business is currently X-Factor or doom; it’s quite hard to exist out there at the moment. We are planning to do more, but we’ll just do everything when it’s the right time.

Why is Nail in London? Isn’t that a huge ballache?
Nail needed a break from Nottingham. To be honest, so do I. It seems that every time I set foot into the city, it’s full of complete nutters. I’m sad about it because I’m passionate about Nottingham. But we all know it’s going a bit pear-shaped.

Why did you decide to stay?
Well, I wanted to keep the studio going - I moved into the same place as Crazy P and it has been lovely being there. Also, I’ve not been that financially able to just pick up and move. I have itchy feet now though. I am really wanting a change of scenery. Yes, it does make things slightly trickier in writing new material for Bent, but we’ll play it by ear. No pun intended.

You’ve been at it for ten years, now. Has the industry changed?
Obviously, downloading has changed the market - people’s attitude to music is very different now. We’re becoming more interested in multimedia and interactive media. I think that there is an over-saturation of music at the moment, so it’s harder to find the good stuff. On the other hand, the internet is a great tool for finding and trying out new music. There’s some great stuff out at the moment - Pitto, Harmonic 313, Bleep District - but I’m getting more and more bored with mainstream music. They’ve dumbed it down so much that it’s almost like it’s aimed at daycare centres. There will always be interesting things going on in the background though, and that’s where I hope we fit in.

Nowadays, everything seems to be pigeonholed to death. Do you think rock and dance bands will ever co-exist as well as they used to?
I think they flirt with each other now and again. There are certain acts that have managed to be both, like Midnight Juggernauts and MGMT. I’m looking forward to hearing a big movement of music again. The industry is so different now; it makes me wonder how it will all pan out.

What advantages and disadvantages do DJ/producers have over traditional bands?
That’s a tricky one. I think the advantage of producing is it’s easier to get a unique sound, rather than using the same old instruments. DJs in general don’t have to worry about rehearsing, or sound checks. Live bands do have the advantage of looking more interesting on stage, though. We’ve always tried to fit in the middle.

You’re famed for your remixes. What do you think were your best and worst?
I really like our Billie Holiday mix of Speak Low, and the Dolly Parton mix of Early Morning Breeze. I think the worst was Spandau Ballet’s Gold. It wasn’t that good. Glad it never escaped the studio!

Any local bands you’d like to have a crack at?
The Pesky Alligators or The Omega Jazz Band. I wanted to remix the Xylophone Man, but unfortunately he rolled a seven.

There are always new DJs and producers breaking through in Notts. As someone who’s actually done it, what advice would you give ‘em?
Funny how we’re seen like that! I would say be honest with yourself and your music, don’t be afraid to try different things, work your guts out and love what you do. I say that to myself every day, pretty much.

So what’s your proudest achievement with Bent?
My proudest achievement is just getting the music out there in the first place. That was my life goal as a teenager. There are so many things we have done and wonderful people we’ve met on the way that it’s hard to pin it down. Having a Best Of makes me proud, though.

Is there anything you’d change?
I would probably try and listen to the record companies a bit more, I’m sure they wanted a hit record, but then again, we were never about that. If I was going to change anything I would probably say to myself ‘save some money for tax’. That would have been a good idea!

If you’re out in town, what is a typical night out for you?
A typical night would be to see places like Moog, The Dragon, The Sir John Borlase Warren, and Yates’. Actually, no - Squares is better. It’s like Jeremy Kyle with a bar. Admittance: No trainers, no baseball caps, and strictly no GCSEs. Seriously though, a typical night for me is meeting with good friends in nice pubs.

Any final words?
Thank you for getting the album, in advance.

Best of Bent is out now in all good record shops. Bent will be playing on the LeftLion stage at Broadway for this year’s Hockley Hustle on Sunday 25 October.

We have a favour to ask…

LeftLion is Nottingham’s meeting point for information about what’s going on in our city, from the established organisations to the grassroots. We want to keep what we do free to all to access, but increasingly we are relying on revenue from our readers to continue. Can you spare a few quid each month to support us?

Support LeftLion now

You might like this too...

Sleaford Mods

You might like this too...