The Upbeats – ‘No Sleep ‘Til…Japan & Iceland’ | Q&A

Drum and bass behemoths The Upbeats are set to release their latest EP – ‘No Sleep ‘Til…Japan & Iceland’ on October 5th.

Seven months in the making & largely funded by their fans through Kickstarter – the EP showcases some of world’s best electronic artists including multi-talented powerhouse Noisia & dubstep maestro Goth-Trad. The EP floats between 140-175bpm – with each track encapsulating and delivering a unique and distinct feel – yet still coherent as a collection.

Embarking on a tour through Japan and Iceland, drawing inspiration to infuse into their compositions, the result of their adventure is a stunning nine-track EP combining raw, artistic interpretation with fine-tuned technical prowess.

Here’s what The Upbeats had to say about the project:

You’ve had an amazing amount of support for the project, did you expect it to be so well received?

Well, we’ve never done anything like this before, and also never tried to fund a project publicly so it felt like a bit of a shot in the dark at first. But we were beyond stoked with the response and the people getting behind the idea, both financially and also the positive encouragement and energy from people in the industry.

Where did the idea originate from?

We came up with the idea a while back to incorporate the travelling experience and music into one package. We’ve always loved being out on the road and the energy and inspiration it brings, so we wanted to try and capture that and translate it into a music-making scenario, and be able to share that experience with people via the documentary, photos and the music.  Something that feels like it hasn’t really been done before in our scene.

How does it feel to know that people are supporting your output to that extent?

It’s amazing! So exciting, but also quite daunting to have to go out on a limb and do things we haven’t done before, like the documentary, and also coordinate such a large international project involving many different artists, film peeps and studios.

Why Japan & Iceland?

We were trying to think of places that were culturally and visually enticing, and a little off the beaten path for artists that we work with. We wanted to capture the excitement of discovery that sometimes gets a little lost with artists that are a bit jaded from constantly travelling for shows etc. Japan and Iceland felt perfect for our first foray into this.

What were your highlights?

Basically loved the entire thing! It’s probably one of the most rewarding projects we’ve worked on to date. If I had to pick a couple of memorable moments: Being taken out of the studio to the coast in a place called Izu in Japan.  The Studio owner and engineer decided to show us their secret, kinda sketchy, path around the rocks by the sea to an amazing cliff top vantage point looking over the entire coast and out to the islands. Was actually a really cool kinda bonding experience with the Japanese studio team.

In Iceland, hiking up a mountain after being recommended a spot by locals to swim in a hot springs fed river. Turned out it was a pretty decent trek into the hills, but more than worth it – was an amazing place, so isolated, and awesome swimming in a hot river surrounded by ice, snow and boiling geothermal.

Where there any struggles/low points of the process?

I think the learning curve was pretty steep for lots of aspects of the project that we had no experience with, and was pretty stressful. We, unfortunately, had an artist have to cancel last minute due to sickness and had to scramble to get other people on board, which was a bit testing!

What was it like working with such a high calibre of producers?

Given the time restraints, it’s a little scary having to produce something that’s up to everyone’s standards in such little time. But everyone was pretty amazing and relaxed in the studio and out, and also I think they got that the focus wasn’t all about just the music, it’s was about the experiences and the process as well.

How did you choose who to work with?

Well, we wanted to go with a blend of sure-fire dnb producers that are close to what we produce music-wise, and also more left-field choices to bring something different into the fold. We also want to work with locals from the places we are visiting as much as possible.

What was your favourite piece of hardware used in the process?

The bits of gear that probably got the most use were the old analog tape delays in every studio, the Roland RE 201 space echo and the Fulltone tape tube echo. There’s something magic about putting things.

What was your favourite creative moment?

I think one of the best creative moments was the field recording done on our portable recorder in Tokyo. Bringing some pretty random sounds from the trip into the studio really made a cohesion with the music and the experiences we were having outside of the studio. The perfect example is the intro to Shibuya Pet Store with Noisia, that basically all came about from our field recordings and jamming on old synths in the Kitty Izu Studio. That piece of music would never have come about without those experiences and influences, which is exactly what we had hoped to achieve.

Favourite track or collaboration from the project?

That’s really hard to say, as each experience was so different. And it was such a pleasure and honour to work with each of our collaborators. But probably the one that clearly achieves what we set out to do, for the above reasons is Shibuya Pet Store, just because it so clearly displays the influences of our surroundings.

Where did you draw your influences from?

Influences came from everywhere – the landscape, the cultural aspects, things talked about while journeying, music heard on the trip, train station jingles, recordings taken on our portable recorder.

Is there anything you’d like to say to anyone who donated?

Thank you so much! Basically, this whole project would not be possible without you.

What’s next?

We are working on a new No Sleep til’ edition in the first part of 2019 that will be in our home country New Zealand. Looking forward to showing people our country and also discovering parts of it we haven’t seen or experienced before!

Thanks guys! You can buy the full release here.