Capitals is the name given to the musical partnership of Angus Carbarns and Keir MacCulloch. Both hailing from Inverness (ish) and currently based in Edinburgh, the two have both been previously involved with various musical endeavours, with Keir releasing electronic music under the name Araya, and Angus performing in such local bands as Theatre Fall, and The Cinematics. This new project is still in what some would describe as the embryonic stage, having not yet released anything or even played a gig. However the strength of the material that has surfaced is enough to give them enough time to breathe. Their music fuses wistful melodies and engaging lyricism with a potent mix of organic and electronic sounds to create songs that are as soaring and atmospheric as they are punchy and interesting. As the band continue to keep writing and planning their next step, with talks of future live dates in the works, we caught up with Angus and Keir, to grill them in the meantime.
What was the initial motivation behind Capitals? How did you guys first meet?
Angus: I think we were both aware of each other's music before we actually met. I'd heard Araya on MySpace and really, really liked it. It was kind of a coincidence that we both moved to Edinburgh not long after meeting properly and we were both looking for a new project to get stuck into - a clean slate kind of thing - so it kind of took off from there.
Keir: I'd heard Angus sing before and had wanted to work with him for a while, so I'm really pleased we've finally gotten our act together and started writing and recording.
You've both been involved in bands and projects before this, but when did you both first get into writing and recording music and how? What are your earliest memories of performing?
A: I think I first got into writing when me and my mate Scott became obsessed with albums like OK Computer and Siamese Dream when we were kids. He got a 424 for Christmas one year and we made ridiculous demos on that, and although the music was probably pretty awful, I think when you're younger you just approach writing and things without pretension - which is really cool I think.
K: My earliest memory of performing was playing a piano solo when I was 10 years old with the Spectrum Youth Orchestra in Inverness. I remember being shit scared and not wanting to do it. Unfortunately I wasn't allowed to get tanked up on beer to settle the nerves but I pulled it off. I do remember physically shaking afterwards, full of relief and adrenaline! I started writing electronic music when I was 13 after being blown away by Squarepusher, Aphex, Plaid etc. It’s been a steady evolution since then from breakcore to ambient and minimal tech.
Though not just in terms of bands/artists, What inspires you both, musically and lyrically?
A: We both have pretty wide-ranging influences. We realised early on that we both love Wes Anderson's films and somehow I think that's helped us along. Lyrically, and this probably sounds very pretentious, I think some of what I've read through my degree has probably influenced the lyrics too. Song-writing can be horrendously self-indulgent and it's refreshing to try to get out of your own head and tackle some other things when you write. There's a few lyricists I really like though such David Bazan and Isaac Brock, and my friends and family such as Butterscotch and Ya Ya Club.
K: Musically I really wanted to do something that I’ve never done before. I’ve been doing solo work for some time and I felt my ideas were getting stale and I really wanted to move on. When producing, I always try to balance the organic and electronic elements and with the Capitals work so far, i've found myself reaching for the guitar, the melodica or thumb piano etc and spending far less time programming - which is really great. I'm finding that I can connect more with music this way. I think some recent inspirations for me have been Bibio, Tim Exile and James Holden. In-fact, I went a little crazy for the Border Community label recently - it’s all I listened to for about two months!
Do you both have similar tastes in music
A: I'd say we more or less do, but Keir's far more versed in electronic music and IDM and so on than I am, so I've learned a lot from his own music in that respect. I come from more of a 'guitar band' sort of background but we have a lot of shared favourites like Mum, Arcade Fire, Radiohead, Bjork and so on.
K: Yeah, because we come from different musical backgrounds we both bring to the table quite a varied taste. But there are definitely crossover bands that we both love. Most times when we meet to record, we will take some time out to listen to some new music that we've both come across. I’ve found new artists this way that I really like, that I may not have listened to before - which is great.
The music you two create is densely layered and very atmospheric, but what is it that you personally try to achieve in writing these songs?
A: Shit, you got me. I don't know! I think the 'mission statement' more of less from the start was just to try to write in a way neither of us really had before, to get out of our comfort zones and see what happens. And most importantly, to try and have an honesty about what we're doing and enjoy ourselves. So for me, I get a lot out of the fact that I don't really know what's coming next when we're writing 'cos we're trying to be as inventive but as accessible as we can. Building the big layered arrangements is great fun, but more of a logistical nightmare for Keir when it comes to producing it probably!
K: It definitely can be a nightmare organising some of the tracks! But I am a total geek and enjoy it. It’s still a learning curve for me to work with vocals and I'm really happy with the direction we are taking. We’re always bouncing ideas off each other and talking about things we could do in 'the next track'. It's music that I think we have both wanted to do for a long time.
Though this still very much a new endeavour, what are your plans for the rest of the year? Do you have plans for any releases as yet or any live dates?
A: We'd love to put out an E.P. which we've been writing and recording for a few months now. If someone offered to do that for us that would be awesome, if not we'll find a way to do it ourselves. I think once the recordings are finished off, which is close to happening, the next move is to get out and play live.
K: We definitely want Capitals to be as much of a live band as it is a studio band, and we have some extra hands that are going to be helping us out live, which is going to be awesome.