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Psapp - Interview

  by Sarah Rowland

published: 23 / 3 / 2007

Psapp - Interview


Sarah Johnson chats to German/British duo and recent Domino signing Psaap about their offbeat recording methods and 'The Only Thing I Ever Wanted', their new album

Psapp are much like their sound, a little off the wall, grounded, distinctive, colourful, serene with a childlike sense of humour and above all a complete contradiction. It seems they have went from experimenting with ‘"the sounds they like", to building a strong fan base in the US in one effortless sweep, all without the traditional pre-conquer of the UK charts and before they had really started to play their music live. Their songs being featured on several US hit TV shows has helped their success along but this bit of luck has not over shadowed the music and both Carim Clasmann and Galia Durant seem set on making the music they enjoy to play. Their latest album, ‘The Only Thing I Ever Wanted’, has less of an electronic feel but keeps the tide of strange and unusual sounds flowing. Part of the fun when listening to a Psapp song is to try and work out what some of the sounds might be or how they were made. Galia says : “We just use any sound we think works well and that we happen to like. We have always been in to collecting toy instruments and cheap Casio Keyboards so there’s all sorts in there. “We like to write pop songs but we use noises like gravel, children's toys, bottles, stuff like that. We just like to experiment with sounds, basically, but we like to write pop songs as well.” The band also put a lot of creativity into their artwork and make small woolly cats to hand out at gigs. Galia says: “With the videos, we're very much involved in them too. It's great having an idea and seeing it transformed into animation. All of our videos feature my drawings. The first proper video we did was just my drawings. It took about 200 in the end.” Their artwork was shown in a gallery in Paris at the beginning of the year and, like most of the band's illustrations, featured a lot of cats. “The cat thing was just a joke taken too far really. We just find it funny to hand out the cats and people at our gigs seem to enjoy it. We both love cats so it has just become a long running theme for the band and I never tire of looking at pictures of cats.” The band are about to start a tour in the US and have been touring extensively around the UK. Their songs, however, weren’t written to be played live and took some re-working before they could be taken to the stage. Carim says : “We started playing live at the end of 2005 but all the songs had to be rearranged. It wasn’t easy, but it’s good to hear how the songs evolve for the stage." “When we started five years ago, we already had a love of found sounds, or sounds that were exciting so we tried to use that in our music, so that it becomes part of a song, and not just a noise for the sake of it. Once we wanted to play the songs live a lot of that just couldn’t work on stage so we needed to rearrange it and we also needed to bring in a band. “We play live with four other people; Gwen Cheeseman, Eshan Khadaroo, Jim Whelan and Matt Jones. They all play an asortment of differnent instruments and toys.” The live songs still manage to capture everything that Psapp are about and the unpredictability of some of the make shift instruments only adds to the distinctiveness of the band. Carim and Galia met through mutual friends and now live and create in London. Both have very different musical backgrounds, Carim is originally from Cologne in Germany where he worked as a producer and Galia is from Richmond, Surrey. Galia is credited with coming up with the tunes and lyrics of the songs while Carim’s experience in producing music brings everything together making all of the unusual sounds fit together. Both feel it is their different approach to music that has made them able to create with each other so well. Galia says : “People are getting bored of tidy polished recordings because it’s so easy to achieve. You can go out and spend £100 and buy something that records your songs really well. We have the facilities to do that but we like to incorporate sounds that are really personal to us at the same time.” Their first released track was ‘Scissory,’ on a compilation called ‘Indoor Shed’, put out by the label Deep Water. This was followed by debut EP, ‘Do Something Wrong’ which was followed by another three EPs and two albums, leading to the release of ‘The Only Thing I Ever Wanted’ after the band had signed to Domino records. “We had quite a lot of labels interested in us in 2005 but in the end we decided to go with Domino. It was great to be signing with them, and then afterwards they took us to this huge warehouse were they have loads of vinyl and CDs by the bands on their label. They just told us to take our pick so we had a field day and left with loads of great stuff. It felt like all our birthdays in one” Galia says. A lot of the recognition the band got before signing to a label came from their song ‘Cosy in the Rocket’ after it was used on the US TV show 'Grey's Anatomy. Their quirky sound appealed to several producers of TV shows and Psapp’s songs have since been used on 'Nip/Tuck', 'The OC', 'Sugar Rush' and also on a Volkswagen advert. Galia says : "We feel separated from ‘Cosy in the Rocket’ now, once a song is out there and used for something else then it kind of takes on a life of its own.” Even with a big label behind them and several live dates on the way the band still don’t seem to be following any set plan. They are experimenting with sounds and making music along the way. Carim sums up the bands ideology perfectly when he says: “We're followers of the 'try it and see what happens' philosophy. We don’t like to write any rules for our songs. Otherwise that could just stop us discovering something great by accident.”

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Psapp - Interview

Psapp - Interview

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