Liverpool five-piece Outfit are a band of electronic experimentalism. Fusing elements akin to Hot Chip and Django Django with their own existential electronica, it’s a heightened and attractive soundscape which comes out the other end.
Simultaneously one of the most melancholic yet euphoric records of 2013, their debut album Performance, which was released in August, marks a beautiful struggle with life and identity. If you’ve seen them live though, you’ll also know that it’s one of the most accessible.
Ahead of their own performance at the Hare & Hounds in Kings Heath on January 28, we talk to Outfit to find out more.
Hello Outfit, we’ve never spoken to you before, step on in and introduce yourselves!
Hello Brum Notes, we’re Outfit – our real life individual identities would only be a disappointment.
To get a bit of background and perspective, you formed whilst you were students in Liverpool and living in a 20-bed house owned by an eccentric lawyer who decided to let a clan of artists occupy his rooms. Correct?
We lie a lot…
You moved from Liverpool to London and back again. What prompted the moves and are you settled now?
We find dissatisfaction to be a good propeller. As a result we rarely settle.
Whenever I read about you, you’re always a ‘Liverpool band’ as though you’re inextricably linked to the city. Do you feel tied to it?
People like to hear that a band are from somewhere else because the ‘creative industries’, like so much else, are concentrated in London. We don’t feel like we’re tied to being anything though, pleasant a place as Liverpool is.
You released your debut album, Performance, in August last year. I feel like despite outward appearances, it’s quite a melancholic piece of work and in fact I read an interview in which you said, ‘We try and create a melancholy atmosphere but lyrically look for something positive.’ How much of a challenge is it to successfully fuse the two?
Melancholy is different to despair – there is a desire for something more, a beaten down frustration that proves your belief that life can be better. In that sense, it’s no challenge.
Another of the major themes on the record is being in your twenties and trying to find yourself. Was creating the record therapeutic in that sense – do you feel any closer to knowing?
Music allows us to act out many of our concerns, but unfortunately we’ve realised that it won’t tell us who we are.
A barn door creaking and the sound of people walking through long grass are both somewhere on the album. Are there any other surprise samples lurking?
Ah come on, don’t ruin the surprises!
The artwork is also really stunning – tell me about the building which looms from it.
That is Outfit HQ, brutalist outside and in.
You made a film and soundtracked it yourself which is something that I know nothing about. Tell me about that.
That was for a project we did in collaboration with writers mostly – we toured a selection of pieces around the idea of messages from the dead. Our piece was about the trial of Judas Priest, who were accused of planting subliminal messages in their records, causing fans to kill themselves. The trial was striking for targeting the one thing the suicide victims loved and claiming it as cause, a shocking kind of cultural dishonesty and abdication of responsibility.
I saw a plea on your Facebook asking fans to shelter you when you toured with Dutch Uncles and others last year. Did they come through for you and did you stay anywhere particularly wonderful or strange?
We stayed in several houses of kind, lovely people. Allowing musicians to stay in your place is the zenith of hospitality, if everyone did it once the world would be a better place.
You play in Birmingham at the end of January. I heard that you’ve been working on some visuals to accompany your performance?
We have a longer set and the opportunity to control our environment to a greater degree, so we’re working on the way to present the album as we like – I’m typing these replies from a Liverpool basement for that very reason.
Are you working on album number two yet?
By Satan’s todger, yes.
Outfit are live at the Hare & Hounds on January 28. Tickets are priced at £7 advance and are available via the This is Tmrw website.