There’s an air of romanticism to record stores, much like book shops, whereby the people who visit and work there are equally as interesting as the item you pick up and explore. As you enter the store, you’re equally intrigued by the music to dig through and the people to get to know. This sentiment feels true with FYI Chris, the friendly guys you might find sitting behind the desk at Peckham hot spot Rye Wax. The South London producers have been working together for over three years now and have released on the likes of Banoffee Pies, Church, Rhythm Section, Ears Have Eyes and their own imprint West Friends. Now releasing their first EP for German label Toy Tonics with ‘Songs About People’s Feelings’, the record follows a hugely successful year for the duo who have toured across the globe. Some of their key dates include performances at The Jazz Cafe, Meadows In The Moutains and Pau_se Open Air. We caught up with FYI Chris to discuss their latest release, how they’ve evolved over the years, the South London scene and what they would like to see change in the new year.
Starting from the beginning, how did you decide to create a production duo together?
We were just jamming, it wasn’t ever a conscious “form a band” type thing. Just making songs and showing them to friends, who then wanted to put them out so we had to think of a name.
Has music always been part of your lives? What are some of your earlier memories of it?
Both of us grew up with lots of musical inspiration, think much is hanging out with grandparents as kids – they’re always the ones with the weird old jazz records, library records from films and watching old films. I think we both had piano lessons from a nan, which we both wish we’d listen to more…
When it comes to your sound, what would you say influences it the most? Do your emotions and experiences play a part in it?
A lot of the time it’s a certain sound or sample that we’ll end up basing the palette around. We work quite quickly so ideas are formed in the first session and we hardly ever switch up directions in further sessions.
How do you feel it has evolved over the years?
Just constantly looking for new techniques to try out and see what applications they suit. If you’re forever looking for a new way of trying something you’re used to doing, you’re going to end up with a different end result and as long as you can wiggle, it’s all progress.
If so, what was going on in your lives when creating your new EP ‘Songs About People’s Feelings’? Is it based around a certain period of time?
The songs were done in a fresh studio Coupe built when he moved house. So they were all with slightly different configurations of the same kit, some live, some not. The 4 tunes sort of sprung up out of 2 studio sessions and grew from there. All 4 tunes heavily samples 3 particular records that we had picked up along the way and wanted to use in tracks. It always nice when you get to use an idea in a track and it comes together the way you want it to. Its even better when you find a labal that wants to release it!
It’s your first release on the German label Toy Tonics, how did your relationship begin?
They asked us for a remix, they liked it! We stayed in touch from then. All our previous releases have either been released by good friends of ours or ourselves. That’s for no reason in particular.. But it was exciting to put together a release for a german label!
What was the process like recording the EP? Did you have specific roles in the creative process?
No, we like to switch places, do the buttons, do the keys, the drums – just swap around if someone catches an idea – or one of us will be working the fx sends, while the other records in a part live. Totally depends on who’s got the lightbulb at that moment.
Was the transition from selling records to producing them quite easy for you both? Is it something that comes naturally?
They’re not comparable things at all. One is just retail, but we’re lucky to work in shops that feed our passions. Coupe is working at the Bleep shop in Dalston at the moment, everyone should go check it out!
Outside of producing, are there any other creative avenues you like to explore?
Watson has just been messing with analogue video moshing and collages. Coupe takes a mean photograph.
What are some of your most prized records?
Watson – Joy Division Bootleg from a festival in Leeds in ’79, Madvillainy.
Coupe – Showbiz & AG – Goodfellas, Mtume – Tie Me Up
How would you describe the South London music scene? What is your favourite part of it?
It’s good! Best part is how many great artists live close enough to collaborate. That is the great strength of the scene, the density.
As Peckham is a hotbed for creatives now it’s hard to think there are any hidden gems left to discover but as locals is there anything you would recommend that’s under the radar?
Yeah, called “Salut!” Its actually this really good cocktail bar they opened up on the top deck of a number 12. It stops once at 7.45pm (on the weekends) by Greggs, and starts serving just as you reach Burgess Park.
What are your current thoughts on the landscape of London’s music scene?
The UK in general is really in a good place musically, possibly as a reaction to the horrendously fucked state of everything else. You’re seeing more and more parties and especially acts from out of London causing global heads to turn and that’s only a good thing. London will always be London – the place is too big and too important not to produce artists who grow up absorbing every fibre of it and condense 8 million stories into a unifying sound that the world will want a slice of, don’t need us to tell you that.
Is there anything you’d like to see change in the new year?
More silly parties. Less party conglomerates.
‘Songs About People’s Feelings’ by FYI Chris is out now on Toy Tonics – buy here.