Appleblim in conversation with Second Storey


ALSO is the collaborative project of Appleblim and Second Storey. Real names Alec Storey and Laurie Osborne (which makes ALSO "Alec Laurie Storey Osborne", which is a bit of a mouthful), Appleblim and Second Storey have worked together a lot in the past, but made their first release with the ALSO project in 2014, dropping a debut EP of three gritty, broken beat techno tracks for R&S Records. Two more EPs have since followed, and last month these efforts were collected on an official debut album called 'Appleblim and Second Storey present ALSO'.

Neither artist is a novice. Appleblim has been releasing stellar records through his and Shackleton's influential dubstep label Skull Disco for over a decade, later setting up his own Apple Pips imprint and producing some of Aus Music's finest 12"s in collaboration with friends like Pearson Sound and Komon. Second Storey, meanwhile, has come into his own in recent years with releases on Aus, Houndstooth, and of course Apple Pips, having previously notched up a sizeable discography as Al Tourettes.

Here, Storey and Osborne sit down for a chat on instant messenger explaining how their friendship and collaboration came to be.

First meetings

Appleblim: "We met at a house party in Bristol, right? Was a very funny night."

Second Storey: "Yes indeed – Pocky’s party – such a classic."

Appleblim: "I was playing Detroit techno, and some guy was slagging it off, saying it had no soul – not like blues and black music. And I could hear Al saying, 'Actually, mate, it is black music.' And I thought, good on him! We hit it off from there. That was like 2008. We ended up becoming firm friends that night. We thought we were the only ones left at this party, bending each other's ears, ranting away, then we realised they'd all gone upstairs!"

Second Storey: "Yeah, I didn’t know many people in Bristol at that time who were into techno, either. It was an instant mates kind of thing – still ranting at each other, which is good eh?"

Appleblim: "We just started hanging out and playing each other music a lot. I had been at uni with a lot of lovely peeps, but who were slightly younger and didn't have the same interest in techno and so on. So we bonded over that, mega DJing sessions, Robert hood, Cristian Vogel, UR, Neil Landstrumm…"

Bristol at the time

Appleblim: "I guess there was dubstep going on. It was still good – big, fun nights like Subloaded and Shit The Bed; very ravey, big dances. And drum 'n' bass was still popular, but there were only a couple of very small house and techno nights, like Underscore and Cuisine."

Second Storey: "Dubstep was just kicking off, really. There were a couple of good techno and electro nights – Kingpin being one of them, and Cuisine being the other at Timbuk2."

Appleblim: "So meeting Al was my link into a different world, actually, and a lot of the Bristol electro/techno and free party soundsytem people. Real characters, great people – so many mad personalities, and it was refreshing for me to get out of the dubstep thing a bit."

Second Storey: "And likewise I wasn’t so into dubstep at all, so Los was my intro to the goodness of that."

Appleblim: "I was DJing a lot, but was starting to get tired of the 'big drop' style stuff. Don't get me wrong, I loved Skream and Coki and all that stuff, but the nights I really loved were at Berghain, where I was lucky to play Sub:Stance – where we both went, actually, going mad to Mala, Shackleton, and so on, and I'd do the warm up. It was a pretty exciting time all round really. I loved the fact that the Berlin lot were coming out to see Distance, Scuba, me, and Shack, and the Sub:Stance nights were brilliantly varied."

Second Storey: "Yeah, when you played Sub:Stance it was so good – Shackleton and 2562 playing on that rig really opened my ears… and broke me out of the straighter electro rhythms."

Appleblim: "Yeah, 2562 is something we both met halfway on. That was the vibe we really buzzed off – swung mental techno bass music! Techno Dread! And RSD's Over It."

Second Storey: "In fact that track Techno Dread was the one, I believe. Yeah, still love that RSD tune!"

Appleblim: "And those Mala tunes: Miracles, Stand Against War, New Life Baby Paris… bonkers music! And Shackleton. I mean, he was just so sick live…"

"We met at a house party in Bristol. I was playing Detroit techno, and some guy was slagging it off, saying it had no soul – not like blues and black music. And I could hear Al saying, 'Actually, mate, it is black music.' And I thought, good on him! We hit it off from there." – Appleblim

Hitting the studio

Appleblim: "It was around then, I guess, that we first tinkered in the studio. We worked on a couple of remixes together, on something for Phonica, and something for Ostgut Ton by Luke Slater. So we did a couple of these remixes, and it was an extrension of our friendship I guess, pretty natural. I loved working with Al. And he was playing me this mental stuff he was making. Proper out there but groovy kind of techno, a bit housey, a bit electro, but all very 'Al' if you see what I mean. I think he has a very unique sound world and sense of melody, and it was great to be around that. So I guess I must've put out [via Apple Pips] Dodgem (named after our Berlin trip!) and Sunken, two absolute beauties!"

Second Storey: "Yeah, we always had a laugh and I felt it was very easy to work with you as I'd been on such a solo tip prior to meeting. A very different experience, but so needed."

Appleblim: "It was good times, I was playing stuff by my mates in Bristol all over the world – stuff by Wedge, Gatekeeper, Pinch, Pev, Arkist, and so on… People were very interested in this kinda hybrid music we were making. I think we had a couple of jams and came up with the beginnings of Lipsmacker, which eventually came out on Aus Music. Brilliant fun in the studio, just really pushing the funk, and the sound design too – marrying the two, I guess, which is a feature of Al's work."

"I think Al is locked into beats much more than me. When Al's making a beat, he gets that thousand yard stare – he's just totally focused. Which is not really me at all. I jump about and jam on things, going abstract and weird, and recording as we go. And then I would give those bits to al, a little feedback loop. I think my strength is more in arrangement and mix (not saying Al isn't good at these too). But it comes from my band days, I think – I didn't write much, but I really enjoyed it when we took it from the jams and then arranged things, knocking it about, decided where to chop, where to change, how to tighten. Al is amazing at going in on the details; he gets completely in the zone with this deep sound design, and I think with my more basic approach it works well, one zooming into detail, one pulling back, perhaps. But we swap too."

Second Storey: "When we started, it was mainly me doing the technical stuff – rhythms and programming, etc. – but Loz always brought ideas with the structure and progression and overall sound, and also tends to make me think/work in slightly different way. We sync up our laptops now since doing the live set, so we're getting much quicker at building ideas."

Appleblim: "Yes, that's been fun. I always just used to jam over the top of stuff, but now I'm better with Ableton and we're synced, so I can get ideas flowing quicker I guess, rather than waiting to get them onto your machine after the jams."

Second Storey: "I love it when Loz gives me a chunk of noise or random stuff to chop up and reconfigure. That’s often been the starting point for our tracks in the past."

Appleblim: "Yes, some of the stuff on the album started from long jams I'd had on a battered old synth of mine, that were actually a bit crappy – like kernels of ideas, out of time, lots of mistakes, but I'd love how Al would take these and make them work! Chopping, adding, layering… We're lucky in the sense that we want a lot of the same stuff from music: melancholy, yearning, happy/sad, but also funky, swung, experimental, and banging! So we tend to buzz off the same things in the studio."

Second Storey: "Yep, that’s it. And tripping."

Appleblim: "I remember reading an interview with Ben Westbeech where he said a lot of the time in the studio is work, passing these hours, doing these things, nothing really gelling, and that's all prep for the moments where wham! Something happens, and after three hours of 'meh' where you're getting a bit pissed off and so on, it suddenly shines out! That's the best feeling ever, and I guess one the reasons you keep making music. And then of course when you get to hear the end product, out of context, and think, 'Yes, we did that."

Second Storey: "I think we do tend to get stuff rolling fairly quick though, really… Yeah, that’s one of the best feelings: when we go back to something that we did or that we left half-done 'cos we got pissed or needed a fry-up and it’s like – 'Ah, that’s quite good actually!"

Appleblim: "Yeah, there's lots in the bag waiting for the next album… There's a lot of eating and tea breaks! Food is the bonding factor! Food and music!"

Second Storey: "We pretty much always have a fry-up before getting in the studio, so start off with a mild food coma… which seems to work, somehow!"

"We pretty much always have a fry-up before getting in the studio, so start off with a mild food coma…" – Second Storey

Doing an album

Appleblim: "The album was half-written for a live show in Ibiza."

Second Storey: "It started off as a live set we wrote speciffically for a gig at Space and it grew from there, so it was almost reverse engineering."

Appleblim: "We wanted to do something more than just b2b DJing again, so we said we should do an augmented DJ set. I was thinking, you know, decks, FX, maybe some beats, loops, etc. But we just kept having such fun and getting such good results, it ended up being a whole live show in the main room of Space."

Second Storey: "It’s actually a really good way to work I think for us. It means it’s more organic and jammy, as opposed to being so composed and perfect."

Appleblim: "[It was also] absolutely terrifying. Fair play to Mark Broadbent who was running We Love at the time – he stuck his neck out for this pretty bonkers music. I mean, utterly bonkers when compared to most stuff getting played in Ibiza. So more than half the album started there, and then the rest was just us grabbing time where we could among other commitments. So there is quite a difference in the tunes on there – which is great I think – and then the stuff we're doing now is a completely progression from that. The next stuff is further out again, in a way, or I guess just more and more out of 'our style' or 'our sound' – whatever that is."

R&S Records released 'Appleblim & Second Storey present ALSO' on April 6th 2015 (buy).

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