Tapes: Foals

Edwin Congreave chats to Clash...
Foals photo masks.jpg
Fostered by !K7, the 'Tapes' series is already home to sublime instalments from The Rapture, The Big Pink and more.

Next in line are Foals. Ably represented by Edwin Congreave, the Oxford musician is responsible for a deft mix which shuffles between House and Afrobeat, left field electronics and bass sublimation.

Using the series' concept as a launching pad, Edwin Congreave moves between two moods, two shades. Out today (July 2nd) is a fantastic mix, managing to fuse eclectic taste with a defined sense of unity.

Eager to find out more, we emailed a few questions over to Congreave, who happily answered our queries.

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The cassette format is undergoing a revival, what are your thoughts on this?
I've been asked this now a couple of times, and I'm a bit bewildered by it. Nobody told me about this revival! Maybe I should've done some research. Truthfully I don't know anyone who uses tapes to listen or share music on. I think if people find them useful as tools then they should of course use them (Yannis uses them to record ideas on in his bedroom, for example). But the revival as a form of retro fetishism if it exists in any significant way is pretty … well, irritating. This releases references cassette mixtapes in a nostalgic way, but it doesn't go beyond that. I sincerely hope nobody takes this release as a kind of endorsement of the lo-fi aesthetic.

Why did the idea of curating a mix in the Tapes series appeal? What is it about the concept that piqued your interest?
It's a nice middle ground between the world of rough and ready indie mixtapes and the sort of dj mix that i'm into. K7 wanted it to be loose and eclectic, and I wanted it to be tight and coherent, and I think… hope… think… that we found a good place somewhere inbetween.

Did you consult the band members over song choice etc?
Of course! I was determined that it wouldn't simply be an Edwin mix. I've put some of those up on SoundCloud, and there'll be more in the future, but this had to be about the band. Mostly I chose songs that I know we all like and that we've listened to together on tour. But everyone proposed tunes, and I raided their iTunes and record collections for ideas.

How did you piece together the mix? Were you using software?
Yep. I used Ableton. It's pretty much built for this sort of thing. But I spent a whole lot of time before then compiling the music and recording bits and pieces.

The mix moves between extremely different genres, how did you match these songs together?
With a bit of mental and digital juggling. It took a while. I scrapped a lot of great songs simply because I couldn't work them into the mix. I also think it isn't that eclectic. In terms of representing the band's taste in music, there's hardly any … you know, rock music, or any of the truly weird stuff that sits on our iPods.. it's just impossible to group all these things together without wandering off aimlessly into the horizon.

Were you worried about creating a sense of unity?
Consumed by worry. Ha, no, but it was the most important aspect for me. It's so easy to be eclectic, and so hard to communicate that eclecticism to an audience. I wanted it to be an immersive listening experience that people can listen through to with ease, and yet find themselves in a very different place at the end.

Do you have a DJ whose approach inspires you in this respect?
Optimo are a big influence, and I really dig Secretsundaze mixes for their restraint and for letting the tune selection speak for itself. Todd Terje's edits and his DJ sets are an ongoing inspiration. And John Talabot's recent FACT mix is the best I've heard all year. But my favourite DJs are all generic - in the sense of staying within one genre rather than being boring! - which isn't really relevant to this kind of mix.



There’s a lot of House on there, what have you made of the current resurgence in House music?
I'm a bit bemused by it. The evolution of trends in dance music is so fast, but that's what keeps it so compelling. I like that there are these producers who grew on Dubstep and D&B now making slower techno beats. People like dBridge and Martyn. The production is incredible and it has this dark, brittle energy which is I think pretty unique to the scene. My taste is rooted in underground house, so anything new or hip that I can fit into what I already play is a plus. And I'm confident that real house music will continue to embrace and outlive all trends.

There are two sides – A/B – to the mix, do these represent different moods?
Yeah, though it's pretty fluid through the middle section, and I think there are more two moods throughout. Side B is a selection of dance records from the last 25 years that I love and that carry forward the melodic vocal-led style that I think Foals fans can related to. So in that sense more "dancefloor".

Did you approach this as a dancefloor mix, or something quite distinct?
I only really know how to make dancefloor mixes. The whole purpose of mixing tunes is to keep people moving. But this is intended for bedroom dancing. Not even necessarily standing-up dancing. And I wanted to include the wide range of dance music styles that we listen to as a band - from druggy disco to Afropop, all tied together in the style that I know. The beginning of the mix was actually the hardest part for me as I'm so instinctively uncomfortable with not beatmatching tunes, but it needed that sort of scrappy, genre-switching intro to give the rest of the mix a wider context.

Did you commission the artwork? How do you feel it represents the mix?
We did. It's by tinhead, the renegade artist from Oxford whose done all of our releases. The brief was: no brief. So, you know, he did his thing. I'm pretty sure it doesn't represent the mix in any way. Representation is so over-rated, y'know.

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'Foals Tapes' is out now.

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