Kids On Bridges, Interview

16 August 2010

Interview with Christian Bragg from Kids On Bridges at The Secret Garden Party

Interview with Christian Bragg from Kids On Bridges at The Secret Garden Party

I caught up with Christian from Kids On Bridges prior to his band's electric performance in The Remix tent at The Secret Garden Party. Before he set the crowd alight with his North West blend of Dirty Filthy Electro Pop we talked about football, New Orleans and music.

CM; So Christian, how do you feel about your recent comparisons to the Pet Shop Boys?
Christian; To be honest it's quite an honour really. I mean recently we recorded with Steve Dubber who's worked with the Chemical Brothers and Daft Punk, but we're more song oriented. I can see the association, some people say we're like the scally Pet Shop Boys., the Indie Pet Shop Boys, so I'm happy to go with that, it's a great honour.

CM; I see that your style has been likened to Daft Punk vs. the Killers.
Christian; Yeah another comparison I'm happy to go with, I won't grumble with any of them.

CM; There's a stereotype of dark brooding musician at the keys and an avant-garde lyricist, like Soft Cell or Sparks, are you happy to aspire to that image?
Christian; Well I mean lyrics are really important to the band so I write like from a lyrical point before any of the music's done so, the idea of the band was to have this dirty northern back drop but with lyrics that actually meant something but with this glitzy pop music behind it, that you don't really notice but you can dance to it, and the lyrics over it are quite dark, so yeah that fine by me.

CM; After pairing Northern Grime and glitzy pop, which are two quite different and unique styles, do you measure the success of a track by seeing how danceable it is?
Christian; I guess so. We came up with the idea of dirty filthy electro pop. Like I said it's very song based musically, but lyrically if people are at a festival like today they just wanna dance so the lyrics are probably secondary so as long as there's a good beat and a hook, then yeah that's fine but ultimately I want someone to listen to the lyrics and take something away from it, a time and a place you know.

CM; Do you ever change your set dependant on the mood within the tent?
Christian; That's been a hard thing. I think we'll pretty much keep the set as it is because ultimately I think people come to watch you for what you are really. We've been dabbling with a more dancy set, we were over in Japan recently and we've experimented but ultimately we write songs with an electro feel. Sometimes it's hard, you come to a dance festival and DJ's have been pumping out the tunes and we sound slow in comparison so you've just got to stick with it and do what you do, a bit of a hybrid.

CM; You have a pretty gruelling schedule this year, has it been hard work?
Christian; Yeah it's been a pretty amazing turn around for us. From getting signed with Wall Of Sound we've just been getting straight out there doing most of the festivals this year and we've still got like LED, Belsonic and CreamFields all in a row, it's not gonna stop, and then I believe the album comes out. We've got a heavy tour around the UK and then we move onto Europe, so yeah. It's enjoyable, that's what you're in a band to do.

CM; You got a pretty decent tag line from Tony Wilson. "The swagger of Manchester and the voice of Liverpool."
Christian; Can't complain with that. Tony was able to get a demo in the very early days, and he was actually saying we had the voice and the swagger of the 2 cities which describes us really well with me based in Manchester and Danny based in Liverpool.

CM; Of what I've read about you before, and from previous interviews, where the band are from and your North Western roots seem to play quite a big part of who you are and what the band are about, would you say that's true?
Christian; Yeah, I would sat that's definitely true, I don't think you can hide where as a band we're from. Our roots are important, whether it be Oasis, Joy Division or New Order, you know obviously Cream, or originally the Hacienda, is where dance music and song writing come together. We've tried to put a little bit of a new element in, so the other sounds of Daft Punk or the Chemical Brother, or those elements of production, with a very Northern feel to the songs. We just try and give a very real life take on life in the North West, maybe I should glitz that up a bit to make it more pop starish!

CM; You've been championed by the likes of XFM, among others, that can't be a bad thing?
Christian; Yeah it's been great. When you're in a band and we created the album we didn't want it to be a Rock album, an Indie album, a Pop album, almost like a bit of everything. You know it's us by the voice or the swagger. People'll say it sounds like INXS, it sounds like Depeche Mode, It sounds like friendly Fires but that's great , these are all artists that we've both listened to in the studio you know?

CM; And where would you say your main influences have come from?

Christian: My brothers record collection has got a lot to do with it, from New Order, David Bowie, Depeche Mode, but stuff like Beck and INXS and Daft Punk and just some of the new bands. Phoenix have had a huge influence in how we use our vocoders so I just love music, all sorts, Tom Petty as a song writer. He writes in a very simple way. I'm no brilliant musician but I just write the words in a very simple, very binary way.

CM; You're said to be quite straight forward and down to earth yourself, lyrically as well, and you're not a fan of big flowery romantics. Is that how you'd describe yourself?
Christian; I like lyrically to say it how it is. I'm never gonna lyrically say I'll steal the Sun from the sky for you. I just can't. The lyrics in Y don't U are just very matter of fact. I didn't write them to be controversial. It was about an awful relationship. Almost a conversation. I try to write like it is, to use every day words. There's nothing wrong with a romantic song but you just need to be honest.

CM; Just take us through the song writing process, you said you start with the Lyrics. When does Danny get involved?
Christian; Usually I get a hook or an idea for a title, I get about eight lines, and if it stays in my head I'll put it on my mobile and then go into the studio and think maybe I'll work with this, get a melody and a hook, and myself and Danny and producer Mark'll put some beats over that. That's the hard bit 'cos they'll have to try and pull out of my head what I'm thinking. in terms of breaks or whatever. I wanna beat like that. We'll build from there and Danny'll score it and Mark will pull it together really. I'll say whether I like where it's going. It might be very naive and basic but it works in its own way.

CM; Of your fellow contemporaries around at the moment are you listening to any of them?
Christian; I was just speaking to Danny on the way down here and I was saying that Melancholy Hill by the Gorillaz is probably my favourite song of the year. I just like the mood. I love the Friendly Fires album and fortunately they've been playing all the festivals so I've actually got to watch them. We we're fortunate enough to jam with J2K, from Roll Deep, he's going to be on one of the tracks. It's great that they've just took off and got their number 1. When we met up with them we weren't sure what was going to happen, just that he's a Liverpool fan.

CM; How did your collaboration with Roll Deep come about?
Christian: To be honest it's not something you always wanna do, it's a bit cliche'd to get someone to guest on your track. We weren't signed and J was doing his own stuff and we were introduced to him and luckily we're both Liverpool fans, and at the time Liverpool were going through an awful time, we got chatting and J heard the track and he got it spot on.

CM; Is Joe Cole going to change the fortunes of Liverpool this year?
Christian: Well, you have to be optimistic, to be honest, I think yeah, I hope so. I think it's a great signing. Again Me and Dan were talking in the car on the way down and ever since the signing we've been more optimistic, so you know in the words of Dr John, "Quitters never win, and winners never quit"

CM; The new album This Is Widesrceen has been described as melodically brilliant and lyrical genius, how would you describe it?
Christian; It's an album that's probably taken me five or six years to write. Lyrically and stuff I had all the themes. I was in a Hotel in Madrid watching this TV on the floor and thought, this is widesrceen, got he idea of a song from that picture. Lyrically I think they're quite naive, very honest, very innocent. Maybe they just struck a chord. I think a bit of that quote was missing, "It might be genius or it might be".. but no it's a great compliment.

CM; With your many bookings do you get a time out?
Christian; I think we're rammed pretty much into next year. I am going to New Orleans for a little bit so I'm hoping to start write something new with some New Orleans musicians, bring an element, of not jazz into it, but how they play their instruments into it. I'm going to spend 5 days with a producer who worked with BB King. Completely away from Electro but it'll still be Kids On Bridges but I'm not going to write a jazz album but I am going to use the vibe of the city and its influence. So 5 days at the end of this month I'll get to chill for the last time this year.
The vibe of the city reminds me very much of Liverpool. The City is very honest and the people are very optimistic, no matter what punches they take. I think if I can incorporate any of their enthusiasm into the music it'll be a pleasure to do.

CM; And if you could pick another band or partner to collaborate with who would it be and why?
Christian; If it was contemporary I'd probably say Gorillaz or Phoenix, but if I had a chance with anybody.. David Bowie, Curtis Mayfield or Dr John. They all bring something. I think David Bowie, he's been there done it, he's got a fabulous grasp on music.

CM; Finally then, what can the crowd expect from today's set?
Christian; Dirty Filthy Electro Pop. We just do what we do. Hopefully, you know, we haven't got the visuals, and the visuals play a big part, make it more grimy, and so sometimes with the name Kids On Bridges people have trouble, we never wanted to say we were kids. It's a true story, a brick was thrown off a bridge, breezeblock, on the way to Manchester, brand new car, first day smashed to bits. The name just stuck. The idea was to have this grim Northern imagery on stage with these glitzy pop songs so hopefully if you just like the song you'll go away thinking I want to check that band out. In this day and age of Myspace or FaceBook. We've got a couple of tracks you can download for free on the website. Hopefully they'll go away thinking yeah I enjoyed that. Music's never been as vibrant for a time for us to be doing what were doing.

CM; Thank you Christian, and all the best for the set.
Christian; Thank you.

Andrew Lockwood.

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