Is Tropical hit Shanghai this weekend, promising masked mayhem and their own unique brand of dance-not-dance music. We caught up with this illusive trio to give you the low-down ahead of Friday's show, which will also feature the evergreen Duck Fight Goose in support.
Making use of a vast assortment of synths, pedals and other gadgets that achieve distortion, Is Tropical create reverb soaked electronic pop that will satisfy both the lo-fi loving shoegazers and dancefloor fans alike. This, along with a strong visual element to their live performances, has made the band hot property back in Europe, seeing them play any number of raucous shows both in traditional music venues and clubs.
Here's a summary of what Gary, Dom and Simon had to say to S247:
S247: What are your musical backgrounds, both as a musicians/producers and fans?
Before IS TROPICAL we played really fast punk rock in a party band in London. Before that our musical experience was limited, but we all consider ourselves artistic people. There may have been a rogue musical birthday present, and we took to making music quite quickly so the instinct was there.
I think like most people we've been fans of music since we first heard it. When you're in a restaurant and your ear is pressed to your mum's body because you just wanna sleep (you've already eaten your kid's fish finger meal) and you can hear that weird familiar sub-bass rumbling as she talks to her guests, that's your first experience at a live gig.
S247: Can you tell us what Is Tropical is all about and some of the other artists you've worked with/drawn inspiration from?
IS TROPICAL is a gang which spans the entire world. We're a country whose national anthem is recorded once every couple years and split into ten or eleven parts. Wherever we go, we issue spiritual passports and give information about imaginary monuments to visit. Our musical family extends to loads of other bands including those on Kitsuné, those around us in London like The Big Pink, Spector, Mystery Jets, Tribes, Age of Consent, Klaxons, Fiction, Zulu and loads, loads more.
S247: Can you talk a little about the connection between the scenes in London and France? Labels such as Kitsune, Valerie and Club Cheval seem to be well represented in both.
Good shout! Valerie is an amazing label with some brilliant artists on it. Club Cheval I might need to check out. I think the connection between France and England is a historical one. They are the proverbial next door neighbours, and the pathetic breadth of the Channel / La Manche is one which we've almost satirised now by building tunnels underneath it and sending our comedians and armies to swim/float across it countless times.
Boys in our nation's bedrooms fantasise about each other's girls. Some fin de siecle ideal about being a European Capital, unimaginable exchanges of art, knowledge and straight-up cross-pollination, conquests told and retold throughout the centuries mean that when we hear music coming from across the water, we prick our ears up and listen. To us, they are sophisticated, slightly dark and brooding, but inexplicably cool and mysterious. To them, we are probably somewhat plain and obvious, but inexplicably charming and enthusiastic. The love affair goes on, I guess.
S247: And how is London these days? Is all the action a help or a hindrance in terms of new bands getting noticed?
What action? The Olympics was a great opportunity for old artists to prove they are out of touch and for new showponies to go by relatively unnoticed. The music scene in London is in a state of cant-see-the-wood-for-the-trees at the moment. There's so much going on and so little artistic direction, that everyone feels oversaturated and uninspired. Good music falls by the wayside on a monthly basis.
There is, however, a tremendous capacity in this city to sustain subculture after subculture, in the face of media distorting it and people who aren't cool trying to jump on board. Music in London either learns how to toughen up and become resistant to the forces acting against it, or the snake swallows it and no-one cheers.
S247: What is new and exciting for you coming out of either the UK or Europe right now in your opinions?
This is a very broad question but if you mean musically I think we are at a unique moment where there isn't a clear direction to follow. This is the perfect circumstance to forge your own path and be experimental. There are even bands who shamelessly (and vocally) derive all of their style and inspiration from what has come before. And we're cool with that too. The radio is a bit of a waste of time in England at the moment though. If you wanna hear some new bands check out Fiction, Zulu, Civil Civic, and keep looking. Cos there's loads
S247: How much do you know about the music scene in China, or Asia more generally? You're heading to Tokyo next I believe?
The music scene in China is a little bit of a mystery to us, given all your music websites are incomprehensible and seemingly resistant to google translate. But we have heard demos of some exciting stuff coming out of China. I once spent about an hour just trying to find a link to your Music Chart, like a Top 40. Ended up giving up, disappointed.
We can't wait to come over and talk to the people about what kind of music is big over there, and any suggestions people might have. Burn us a CD and bring it along to the gig! Tokyo is our next stop after the live show, which is somewhere we've been before and we're really excited to be returning.
Is Tropical - The Greeks
Is Tropical play tomorrow night (24th August) at Mao - check out all the info here.