A few weeks ago, Quip had the pleasure of catching up with Canadian duo HUMANS before their show at Velvet Underground. It has been almost a year since we spoke to Robbie and Peter and although they are the same fun loving, talented guys we met last June they certainly have a lot of new success and stories to share. We talk career highlights, SXSW shootings, their new EP Water Water, and matching outfits.
Jackie Willson: How has the last year been, any highlights since we last spoke?
Peter Ricq: Well, it took about two years to release that last album and we don’t want to wait that long again, so we are just trying to go to the studio more often, and I think its working. That little EP that we just released [Water Water] was because of the time we put in.
JW: Any interesting experiences from SXSW?
Robbie Slade:[laughing] Well, we played four sets. The last night we had a set that started at 1am, so we were like ‘ok, sweet we’ll DJ’ because all of our shits going to be at the hotel. Then we went and they didn’t have anything, so I had to run back to the hotel and we had to do a traktor DJ set, which is usually pretty lame.
PR: … you can’t listen to your headphones; you just have to go and freestyle it basically, which is how we use to DJ.
RS: … so we just winged it, which was sweet, but when we played this club earlier in the day the sound was really bad. But the sound was good and people were dancing, it was cool. And then someone shot a gun outside. So they had to cancel the party early, even after all the running around, we played for about 30min because someone was shooting guns in the air.
JW: Oh my gosh! Was anyone hurt?
RS: No, but a guy from the Toronto Star was outside and witnessed the whole thing. He said he saw two crews having words and then saw the two crews go on either side of the road and they started shooting at each other.
JW: Wow, ok I’m glad no one was hurt. So… back to Water Water, it sounds amazing by the way. What was the vision behind it?
PR: It’s actually an old song that was going to be on our second EP Traps but we didn’t put it on because it didn’t sound right and when we went back to the studio, we were like ‘we’re going to record this song properly’ then Robbie just dropped a completely different baseline. The lyrics have changed too, the Water Water part is the same but the rest is very different.
RS: We made the lyrics a bit more whimsical and kind of more summer thoughts.
JW: Where did you guys film the video?
JW: Oh really? It almost looked like you guys were in Europe, which is why I asked.
RS: Oh really?! No, it was filmed in Gastown.
PR: That’s great to hear, I find that when a video looks like the place that you’re filming, it’s bad. But if you can make it look more interesting like ‘oh where is that?’, then that’s cool. Gastown is actually very European looking.
JW: With Water Water out is there a full album in sight?
PR: Well, because we are going back to the studio all the time we are going to be releasing stuff along the way and keeping a couple of songs on the back burner and releasing it all together
JW: Any dates in mind?
RS: No, not even close. The B side that we didn’t release from the last round of recording is not ready. We want to keep a really good vision moving forward. The side that we already recorded we aren’t really that happy with yet. It is a ways away; we are probably going to put out maybe three more little tiny EPs before we have enough material to put a whole album together.
JW: You guys seem like perfectionists, is that true?
PR: I guess so.
RS: I mean, we don’t really have that much tolerance for something that is subpar or something that we don’t like. Even our critics would probably say ‘well, it is a deliberate sound’.
PR: There was a song on Traps and the base was off, but that’s the way we wanted it and the producer was like ‘are you sure that’s the way you want’ and we were sure.
JW: Do you have a lot of freedom with what you put out?
PR: Oh yeah, we have the last say for sure.
JW: How do you feel your music has evolved over the past year?
RS: We have kind of fallen in love with a couple new synths, which has been a big change. That big base sound that you hear and the synths are not really show, more like backbone. That’s probably one way it has changed.
JW: How has your dynamic changed since you started HUMANS?
PR: Our work dynamic?
JW: Your work and personal dynamic?
RS: [laughing] I think we have become more similar. Like last night we went out and we were wearing identical outfits and we were like ‘Fuck!’ And when we are in the studio, I have worked with other people and it’s kind of this like whole battle of people getting attached to different things. But Peter and I know each other and know what we are going to like, it’s a very cohesive relationship.
JW: Did you learn anything interesting about each other since you started to work together?
RS: Well Pete taught me a lot about electronic music, like everything.
PR: Well that’s not true, Robbie started another band with one of the best producers in Canada so from doing that, he was bringing that to the table, I was like ‘oh maybe I should consider doing this properly’ because I was all self-taught. I guess I was doing things wrong and from learning from Max [the producer] it brought a lot to our table.
JW: Did you picture doing this when you were younger?
PR: For me, every summer I wanted to do an art show and work on a new album and I have been doing that since I was 17 and when I moved to Vancouver I was spending all my money on shows and I was like ‘you know what, I can be doing this’. And then I met Robbie and just the idea of doing the band, which was seven years ago.
RS: I don’t know if I ever thought it was going to go this way. When I look back, there was always this little voice in the back of my head, but ask me at the time I don’t know if I was saw for certain that I wanted to do it. I still have to pinch myself.
JW: Do you ever have a realization that this is it, this is your reality?
RS: Sometimes, when I smoke weed. Like I will be totally chill and then I will smoke weed and be like ‘holy shit, what am I doing with my life?!’ It is so weird.
JW: That’s awesome.
RS: [laughing] Is it?! If you think about people who go to work and hate their jobs, then you’re like ‘I actually get paid to have a good time;’ it’s insane, I find weed a really unpredictable drug!
JW: I think a lot of people share your sentiment in that regard. Ok…if you could play anywhere in the world, where would it be?
PR: For your grandmother, at her house.
RS: ‘Hey Grandma!’ I want to play Panorama Bar in Berlin.
JW: What do you have planned for the summer?
PR: Just playing a bunch of festivals, some really bug ones that we can’t announce yet.
RS: Base Coast, What The Festival in June. Some we can’t talk about yet…like Coachella.
JW: Have you guys been to Coachella before?
PR: We have been, we played some bars and art shows.
RS: There are bands out there where they come out with a new EP and it’s like you get booked for some big festival, but me and Pete are not that band, we scrap. Like, the first year at SXSW, we didn’t have any official showcases. We just went and had one shitty unofficial showcase and just went and tried to get other parties.
PR: Yeah, and if that one showcase was now, it would be the best showcase. It was us, Grimes, Nardwuar, the guy who started Vice. It was the most stacked line up.
JW: I was going to say, those were probably the best shows that you have done?
PR: Yeah, the first show that was not official was the best show we have ever had.
JW: What is the most memorable show you guys have had? Official or unofficial.
PR: A show in Calgary in 2012, we had people crowd surfing, I was crowd surfing. The owner of the bar was like I haven’t seen this in seven years. Everybody was on stage dancing, we were lit.
We can’t wait to see where life takes these guys and based on their performance that night, they will be shooting a video in Europe in no time.