Tuesday, 4 September 2012

ISO: A Piece by Piece transformation

Interview with ISO (previously known as Isochronous) published in Perdeby on 27 August 2012. 

PHOTO: Sean Brand

They’ve gone from Isochronous to ISO, added a splash of electronic influences to their musical palette and are on the verge of releasing their fourth studio album, Piece By Piece, this September.
Perdeby caught up with the Pretoria-based band to talk about the change in their music, lessons learned while touring Germany and their more hands-on approach concerning the production of their latest album.

With your new album, Piece by Piece, you guys have really experimented with new sounds and styles. What made you decide to add electronic elements to your music?
It was merely a case of us taking our production to a new level. The electronic elements add more colour to the record and also, in terms of performance, electronic-based sounds are a lot more versatile when it comes to gigging.

Do you think you are taking a bit of a risk by changing a sound that people are already familiar with?
We don’t think it’s changed so much as it has advanced and become enhanced and enriched by the electronic elements.

Besides the addition of electronic elements, in what other ways does Piece by Piece differ from your previous albums?
The overall sound is a lot more dance- and groove-orientated. The song forms are also more mature and refined. The songs have solid structures and catchy melodies, whilst still incorporating our musicianship.

The recording, editing, mixing and post-production on Piece by Piece was done by Marko and Richard. How do you think this adds to the sound of the album?
Doing everything in-house meant we could get exactly what we wanted when it came to the overall sound. It meant a lot less back and forth between the studio and the band during the mixing stage so we could proceed fairly quickly and execute ideas with relative ease. We learnt a lot from this process and will only get better at it with time. Safe to say, we have never been this proud of a record before.

You recorded 23 brand new songs and then cut them down to ten, while developing a concept based on the selected tracks. Can you tell us a bit more about this concept?
The concept is fairly simple and revolves around taking things step-by-step and focusing on those steps in order to achieve a larger goal. Initially, we began with 23 pieces of a puzzle, but some of the colours didn’t fit in the bigger picture, so we had to discard them. They will be useful colours in another painting though.

What do you plan on doing with the songs that didn’t make it onto the album?
Perhaps we will release the material as B-sides or wait and refine some of the pieces for our next album. That’s the beauty of doing it this way: you have so much material to consider.

You are known for your powerhouse live performances. Do you find it difficult to translate that energy into your recorded material?
In the past we have but with this record, we feel confident that our live energy is translated extremely well.

You released your third album in October 2011. Why did you decide to push yourselves to release Piece by Piece so soon afterwards?
We had been playing the songs on Inscape for a couple of years prior to the release of that album, so once it was out and about we felt like we needed to start focusing on some new material. So although Inscape was a new album, it was old material to our fans. And so we felt a big desire to get something fresh on the table asap!

You recently did a series of DVD launches around the country. What has the response been like?
The response to the DVD launches has been fantastic. We put on four theatre performances with clips from the DVD and old and new material. The shows were incredible and we will definitely be aiming to do some again soon.

Having toured Germany, what lessons have you learned from that experience that you have applied to your music since returning?
There were many professional lessons we learned along the way that apply to many aspects of our brand. From our dress code to the way we move on stage. We also learnt a lot about performance and what we think a crowd enjoys and doesn’t enjoy. Overall, it was the greatest learning experience any band could hope for.

You guys opened for Two Door Cinema Club when they performed in Jo’burg a couple of months ago. What was that like?
Fantastic show! Great crowd and an electric atmosphere.

Are there any music videos in the pipeline for ISO?
We are looking to do a video for “No Fire”, the first single from the new record, and follow that up with at least two more from this album.

You guys have said that you are closing the first chapter of your career and opening a brand new one. What can we expect from Isochronous for the rest of 2012?
Firstly, you can expect to call us ISO as we are abbreviating our name to save every one a bit of time and effort. Also, the rest of the year will see us touring the country and promoting our new record with an incredible live show. We will be playing at a number of festivals later in the year and also plan to tour Europe earlier next year.

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