Finding the humanity in music: An interview with Until The Ribbon Breaks


text by Rose Blanton

Before they started their tour with London Grammar I was able to sit down with the gentlemen of Until The Ribbon Breaks and get a better idea of what it is they are trying to do with their music here on this pale blue dot.

Rose Blanton: Tell me about how you came to do a collaboration with Run The Jewels. What was the process like?

Pete Lawrie Winfield: I was working with a rapper in Brooklyn called Mr.MotherFuckingExquire and he asked me who my favorite rapper was and I said El-P. He ended up knowing El-P and sent him some of my music. I randomly received an email for El-P saying ‘I loved your song “Pressure.” I’m making an album with Run The Jewels. Would you like to sing a hook on it?’ I said ‘of course!’ So when it came time for our record, we did a sort of swap.

RB: A lot of your music makes social commentary. Are you hoping that your music will get to a level where it influences change?

James Gordon: We try to avoid too much commentary. We’re not trying to be a proxy or be political. But having said that, Elliot does has a degree in politics so there are strands of that in our genetic make up as a band. We wouldn’t deliberately ever try to say were masters of the universe. But we do enjoy talking about how technology gets in our face as a race, like an apocalypse where machines and computers take over.

RB: Are we facing a terminator scenario?

JG: Definitely  [laughs]

RB: Pete, you wrote “Pressure” at a time of high stress, do you think you have to be stressed out or poor or in uncomfortable situations to produce better music?  Like if you’re happy and sane, does your music get boring?

PLW: We were actually having this conversation recently. At the time of writing “Pressure” I was under a lot of stress and uncertainty. I didn’t know where I’d end up or where I was going to go. I was sleeping on the studio floor and writing about all these things. So a lot of the lyrics ended up being personal. The record is a snap shot of where I was and I think that’s what will happen with this next record, which is now a much more positive place. We were saying perhaps were far too happy. [laughs] So the next record may be far too happy.

RB: Perhaps a little boring?

PLW: Yeah, that or like Reggae Christmas carols. [laughs]

RB: Hopefully, not. So why the transition from Republic to Cobalt records?

PLW: Republic is a major record label that works on the premise that you’ll work out commercial records and have quick success. I have always felt like we were a band that certainly wants a career and wants to evolve at our own pace. So working somewhere like cobalt allows us freedom, creative freedom. We feel much more comfortable with a smaller team, a smaller roster and being allowed to do what we want creatively.

JG: That’s a very diplomatic way of saying we got tossed. [laughs]

PLW: But it really was a blessing in disguise.

RB: I definitely agree. I think with smaller record companies you able to hold on to your integrity as an artist…  Your music is very production heavy. Does this make it more difficult or harder to convey your music in a live setting?

PLW: At first it was, because we were misguided in the sense that we thought the live shows should be a recreation of the record but as we evolved and played more we realized it doesn’t have to be the same animal. We’ve made it more human, put some mistakes in there ya know?

RB: I’m really glad that you have come to that because I think the beauty of live music is the mistakes and how raw it is. You’re only going to make yourself better, and happier and more unique the more you accept that as you continue to go out there and play shows and do tours.  

PLW: Absolutely, vulnerability is key.

RB: So what is the next obstacle for you guys as a band? What do you want to concur next?

PLW: We would love to make a second record, keep making music and change the way we make music. Our agenda really is to approach the second record with what we just talked about. Make it more human and less perfect.

RB: Is there anything else you want to share with your fans? 

PLW: Yeah, so we’ve sort of got a bucket list. James would like to do a gig in space and Elliot would like to go a gig on a submarine. We want to play Glastonbury. We want to be on Jools Holland.

RB: Sounds like some milestones. Best of luck with those and thanks for you time.

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