Andy Harbers and Richard Roberts are the production force behind Letherette, a sample-driven, Daft Punk inspired outfit that have eschewed the trappings of repetitive deep house with an upbeat mix of Hip Hop infused and dancy cuts that have flirted with a range of genres and styles. Their latest offering, ‘Where Have All The People Gone?’ is a mix of previously unreleased material that furthers the pair’s dialogue with the apocalypse, as first proffered in their 2016 LP ‘Last Night on the Planet’. The cassette is much more ambient and desolate, creating soundscapes like 'Sway' and 'Villim' that evoke the desolate aftermath of a cataclysm while they still manage to hark back to their Hip Hop roots on tracks like 'Slamp'. We caught up with Andy to ask him about his love of sci-fi and how this concept began weaving its way into his work.
You have talked previously about 'Last Night on the Planet' being influenced by 'The Quiet Earth' - when did you first see the film and was the soundtrack a strong inspiration for you?
I first saw the film at a young age, probably around 9 or 10 and it blew my mind, it was nothing to do with the sound track. It was the idea of waking up one day and everyone had gone and the world was left how it was the day before. My mind raced with ideas of driving cars and going into shops and looking for secret bunkers etc haha...I love the idea of having the world to myself to look around at.
You've mentioned that the LP was supposed to represent something for 'the dancer/the headphone folk/the dancers'. What do you envision these groups doing on their last night on earth and how did you come up with the concept to soundtrack them?
I’ve watched a lot of post-apocalyptic films over the years and the human element of what people would do before the last day i.e go to church, sit on the beach, have sex etc fascinates me as it's such an individual moment. I make a wide range of music and putting it under one concept can be difficult especially on an LP. So I selected tracks that connect with me on different occasions, like being alone or in a club or having a party on a beach etc. The cassette ‘Where Have All The People Gone?’ is more of selection of tracks that fit one mood, it’s cohesive in its elements. Dark and lonely.
As a big fan of sci-fi films, can you talk a bit about when you first got into the genre?
Watching ‘This Island Earth’ and ‘The Forbidden Planet’ first got me into sci-fi and looking back I regard these as two in my top ten. The music and concept of ‘The Forbidden Planet’ especially at that time was brilliant. Watching them now, I love all the music used in early sci-fi films combined with orchestral music and drones and ambient soundscapes.
When you were first watching these films were you immediately drawn in by the music or is that something that came later? Are there any composers that you come back to time and time again?
The music came later for me, or I hadn’t grown an ear for it yet. It was all about the effects and story. One of my favourites as a younger person was Edward Artemiev especially his work in ‘Solaris’ and ‘Stalker’ and Bebe and Louis Barron with their soundtrack for ‘The Forbidden Planet’.
Is this particular Doomsday scenario one that you've thought about a lot? Do you think music helps to build a sonic accompaniment to something as serious as the end of the world?
I think it’s in the back of most people’s minds. There’s always a time we think ‘life is short make the most of it’. For me, it helps me build music or a sonic accompaniment to [that thought] so I don’t make it too serious.
Can you talk a bit more about this new release and what's going on for Letherette at the moment? Is there any direction you're moving towards/away from and why?
‘Where Have All The People Gone?’ is released digitally through Ninja Tune. It’s a more serious selection of darker music more sonically cohesive than the album as I wanted to set the mood. The aftermath, the loneliness and what’s left after ‘Last Night On The Planet’, I can see my music heading more in this direction in the future.
Do you think that finding an overarching concept for your work is increasingly important?
I think people like to understand what's influenced a selection of songs, especially when it's an LP. Like a little insight into the artist’s mind and life. The internet makes us all so much closer and we're all fighting for space to be seen. But the most important element for me is that the music’s good, it doesn't matter what narrative you have if it isn't.
‘Where Have All The People Gone?’ is now available via Ninja Tune.