Philip and Emma from Orange Yellow Red

Philip and Emma from Orange Yellow Red

by Jason

Hello Philip and Emma.  Would you please give the readers a little bit of background on the formation of the band and how long you have been together?

Well Emma and I have worked together on and off for a few years now on various different projects. We were also in a relationship for a number of years so we know each other pretty well.. I guess the first thing of note was a band called Play..I sung and played guitar, Emma played bass and we had a drummer. It was kind of a mix of Sonic Youth, Cocteau Twins with keyboards and stuff sequenced as backing tracks…It was really good at the time, very creative, a lot of electricity flowing and it did look like it was going somewhere but sadly we had drummer troubles. I.e. they kept leaving! and after the second drummer left it lost momentum and that’s usually the death knell of any band!..Our old drummers have gone on to do quite well for themselves though! One is Robert Smith of The Cure’s guitar tech and the other joined Hope of the States.

Anyway after that we both kind of drifted around as freelance musicians for a while. Me doing production work and also playing drums for a lot of bands, Emma doing singing. We then bumped into this guy who turned out to be the son (he shall remain nameless) of a major recording artist, which then turned into a serious long term project playing on and producing his tracks. He eventually got a deal with a major publisher and sadly it all went very sour and legal. A case of ‘Who are these guys? I did everything myself!’ and basically tried to write us out of everything. Nasty.

I then among other things ended up through a friend somehow auditioning as the drummer for the Buzzcocks I got through it and was told to learn 30 songs and be ready for a world tour in three days! Luckily, I’m sure, it fell through and that’s when I finally thought that I just need to do my own music again, f*** everyone else! I got Emma back in and we just started creating again. All our experiences recording wise and writing wise just helped hugely with Orange Yellow Red. I do think we suffered with serious self doubt for a few years, we don’t have big egos or massive self-belief or anything which can be a serious handicap in music sometimes. We just do music because we love it and have to create, that’s all.

How did you approach your first writing experiences together?

Pretty simple really someone just play a guitar part, a keyboard part, even a beat or something and then we just build on it. The lyrics are usually written in the studio at the last minute. Emma has great ears and instincts, she can tell if what I’m doing is any good as usually I have no idea!

On the demo you sent me, you had five songs.  Do you have any more written and recorded?  If you do, how many?  If not, when should we expect more?

We have many more songs to come, difficult to put a number on it right now as we’re in the process of demo’ing for hopefully an album release sometime in the future. There’s a hell of a lot of ideas going down right now, they just need to be cut down into finished songs. We definitely hope to have more material ready by the end of the year.

Can you tell us what your writing process is like?

Very generally I write the basic music, Emma writes the vocal melodies and lyrics and other instruments. For instance on ‘Shattered’ I came up with the basic guitar strummed pattern first, Emma wrote the bass part, and the vocal melody and lyrics. We wrote the 6 string bass part on the top together; Emma came up with the main riff and I did the lead bit and the vamps on the end.

How do you go about picking guitar sounds and the structure of a song?

Well I think sound is hugely important in the music we do. Some people are content with Pete Doherty or someone bashing a tune out on an old acoustic guitar and while there is a place for that, I think with us sound and textures have far bigger importance. I think to search for that pure sound you have to stop listening to the radio and start listening to the noise around you. Listen to your fridge!  I swear my ceiling fan has some great tunes going on!

Structures just happen naturally in the writing process, rarely things get edited in the studio. ‘All the hopes’ did get edited after recording though. I had dreams of this huge lead part in the center but then I saw sense and cut the whole section out! Much better as a short, sharp pop song I think.

How did you get started in music?  What drives you to create music?

Some of my earliest memories are of lying in bed making up beats and little tunes as a child, so I guess it’s always been there. My Dad was Irish and a piano and accordion player so I think that helped. The Irish blood has a lot of music in it. Watching the Monkees on the TV as a 5-year-old really kicked it in to place though… those sweet dreamy 60’s melodies and all the fun they seemed to be having. My dad brought me home an electric and an acoustic guitar the next week and that was it…it’s just something in you that nags away at you, annoying sometimes actually. Same with Emma she just got up on stage as a child and started singing anywhere she could.

For the gear heads, can you give us a break down of your equipment?  Do you use the same set up in the studio as you do live?

Ok, my main guitar is an old battered 1959 Fender Jazzmaster played through a couple of amps in stereo, a Roland JC160 amp and an old Peavey Musician head and cab. Effects are mainly a custom home made Big Muff, a few boss effects like the DD6 delay, and my beloved old MXR flanger..I split it into stereo with an ancient stereo reverb rack unit. I also use a 70’s Fender VI six string bass. Emma plays a musicman bass through an old Burman valve bass head and cab and also plays a Fender VI.

What bands would you say have influenced your sound?  Are there any visual artists or authors you find inspiring?

The Beach Boys, Cocteau twins, Stone roses, 60’s spector’y pop..The Cure, My Bloody Valentine…John Mcgeoch (magazine, banshees, pil) is a hero too I suppose. I own a pair of trousers he wore in the Banshees, bit sad I know haha..don’t worry they don’t fit! Visually? Has to be Chris Cunningham who does the Aphex Twin videos among others..his flims/videos blow my mind. The Naked Lunch by William Burroughs had the most profound effect on me of any book I think. The pictures he paints with words are like no other.

What do both of you do when you are not making music?  What careers do you both have?

Emma is a registered Nurse all though she recently gave it up..and I’ve managed to not work in a proper job for years..I record other bands mainly.

Do you have a label yet?  Do you plan on issuing a full-length or EP in the near future?

We are at this point unsigned all though we are talking to a couple of labels who are very interested. The future looks pretty promising right now.  The US seems to be very open to our kind of music right now where as the UK is a bit quieter unfortunately. The UK is, I think, a bit backward musically right now, but hopefully things will change. The plan is to finish the album and get it released on one of the labels we are talking to right now. Fingers crossed.

What are you listening to now?  What artists are in your players?

Radio Dept., they have some of the best songs I’ve ever heard. Ulrich Schnauss, he makes the rest of us sound like we’re playing on pots and pans. Winterlight, a friend on myspace..ambient but with great pop melodies. Jesus and Mary Chain, April Skies. One of our all-time favourites. Beach Boys Love You, a beautiful innocent album.

Any other comments, such as contact information, etc?

Thanks for the interview it was fun to do!

Our myspace is

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