Next Wave #534: FTSE

With imperfection comes a singular attraction...
FTSE by Victor Frankowski

FTSE plays Clash's free-entry EASTnotEAST event on November 14th, with Javeon and Barnaby, at Birthdays, Dalston, London – click here for information and tickets

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With a name steeped in financial markets and a song on his new EP about jetting off to Southern France’s playboy paradise, it would be easy to think of FTSE’s Sam Manville as a slick banker dabbling in music for kicks. But the reality is very different.

“I’m really a pretty staunch anti-capitalist,” he says. “Working under the name FTSE is like an in-joke to myself. It seems to encapsulate a lot of behaviour and personality traits that I’m not particularly keen on.” As for ‘St. Tropez’, FTSE’s collaboration with ForteBowie that leads his second EP, that song is more about escaping from day-to-day troubles than a call to arms for the Cristal-and-parties set.

Across two EPs, Manville has produced tracks which draw heavily on the rich histories of sensual soul, hip-hop, drum ‘n’ bass, R&B and dreamy electronics, without ever sounding like a precise facsimile of any of them. Threaded through these songs is a commercial prowess, offset by an interest in imperfection.

“I don't think pop’s a dirty word, but I don’t like stuff that sounds horribly computer-y or too electronic. I like hiss and I like using samples that have got some sort of bad quality to them. I’m not someone that likes perfection, and that’s the only thing that ties my music together. I’ve just always really enjoyed the stuff that doesn’t quite sit well together.”

“I use machines,” he continues, “but you can still use machines in a human way.” That human quality is best illustrated on the fragile ‘Kode’ from his second FTSE EP. A collage of skeletal skewed beats and strained vocals that encompass both optimism and doubt, the track is outwardly a derivative of heartfelt pop that feels just detached enough to escape formulaic tendencies, a big synth melody arriving without warning and leaving echoes kicking around your eardrums long after the song’s finished.

“What I like to think I can do, without particularly thinking about it, is write hooks that aren’t annoying. I like those subtle hooks that find their way into your brain but aren’t so obvious.”

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Where: Leicester

What: Soul pop with rough edges

Get 3 Songs: ‘St. Tropez’ (video above), ‘Kode’, ‘Consoom’

Fact: Sam used to play in a punk band.

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Words: Mat Smith

Photo: Victor Frankowski 

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FTSE plays Clash's free-entry EASTnotEAST event on November 14th, with Javeon and Barnaby, at Birthdays, Dalston, London – click here for information and tickets

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