Sole Stars - Breton

In association with Lacoste footwear
Sole Stars - Breton
To conclude our triptych of adventurers with Lacoste Footwear we meet Breton, who melt us with their sonic ideas.

Roman Rappak’s shoelaces are undone. They have been for some time. Earlier, he was on the roof of a five-story building in south London, a corner of which serves as the base of operations for Breton, the band he makes up a quarter of. If he’d tripped, and fallen… Well, it doesn’t take a genius to conclude: splat.

But Roman has lived to see another interview. And he, alongside Adam Ainger, Ian Patterson and Daniel McIlvenny – as well as live VJ Ryan McClarnon – needs to make it to many more in order to give the band’s forthcoming debut LP, ‘Other People’s Problems’, the publicity it needs, that it deserves, because it may be one of 2012’s best in show. A record that manages to combine sharp-edged electro with softer, warmer shades of organic instrumentation, it’s both instantly familiar and unsettlingly alien. Like a best friend you’ve not seen for a couple of years, turning up on your doorstep with a new face.

And it’s hardly appeared from nowhere. In 2010, the band released the ‘Counter Balance’ EP via Hemlock – featuring the brilliant these-ears-opening number ‘December’ – and followed that with the staggeringly beautiful sci-fi-themed video for ‘The Commission’ in August 2011. Audio and visual are one and the same for this outfit – live, projections dance around their hooded frames; online, their videos are causing quite the stir. The band’s next single, ‘Edward the Confessor’, is accompanied by a striking black-and-white film: part performance, part social decay on the backstreets near your cosy hideaway. Again, it’s a little of what you know coupled with a lot of what you don’t.

Breton originally formed to make films, so it’s hardly surprising that this element is of such importance to them. Dividing their pursuits under two slightly different banners – BretonLABs for promo and remix work, simply Breton for the music – they are forging a path that’s their own without compromising either aspect of their public-facing identity. “A lot of it comes from just being left to our own devices, here,” says Rappak, gesturing into the space around us – a large, dwelling-cum-studio/rehearsal space that he calls home and work. “We’ve got this big empty building. We’ve got our laptops here, microphones – we’ve never needed to wait for a label to offer us studio time. A while ago that would have been the case; but bands can enjoy a lot more freedom now.”

While it’s true that Breton are partial to a spot of DIY when it comes to creating their art, ‘Other People’s Problems’ – to be released in March via Brighton label FatCat – was taken to Iceland for recording. “We went to Sigur Rós’ studio, Sundlaugin, in Iceland,” confirms Rappak. “It’s an old, abandoned swimming pool that they bought and converted. It’s full of all of their equipment, these things that jingle and chime. It was almost like we went there to remix certain tracks. That was important because, while technology is very liberating, there’s also a restrictive side to it. All of the stuff we have here, it will only stretch so far before things begin to sound a little homogenised.

“You know, there are loads of people out there all picking the same preset on a synth because it sounds fat; but then, if you play around on a Moog – which I did in Iceland – you can change one tiny thing and get a sound that you might never find again. If you’re going to listen to a track maybe four or five times, chances are you’ll want to hear the creak of a drum stool or something, or the hiss of something starting. You want to hear an error, after a fashion; you want to hear some personality. I think that was the aim in taking it to Iceland, to set these songs out in a different environment, in a place bearing the stamp of a very different band.”

Tours with Tom Vek and Ghostpoet have hardened Breton to the commitment it takes to turn a passion into a profession – but with remixes for the likes of Esben and the Witch and Tricky having positioned them favourably in critical circles, and a debut album ripe with crossover potential, it seems the pieces of this puzzle are beginning to align. But just to play things safe for the long-term, perhaps someone should invest in some Velcro-fastened footwear.

‘Other People’s Problems’ is due next March.

Words by Mike Diver
Photos by Letty Schmitterlow


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