Everything But The Girl are back together with their new album; Fuse after a long hiatus. In this interview, we'll be discussing their return to music-making, their creative process for the new album, and how their sound has evolved since their previous work. We'll also explore the themes and emotions that inspired the new album and how the pandemic played a role in bringing them back together.
So first of all, I just wanted to ask you guys, how does it feel to be back?
I mean, it feels kind of good. I think we're still trying to get a head around it. Really. You know, we started this in such a sort of low key spirit, just let's try and do some music together. If it doesn't work, whatever it is, we'll do it in secret. And then we kind of ended up, you know, making this album that we've ended up being really proud of. And now here we are sort of in, like the full glare of the headlines. We're just yeah, we're getting there. We just need to get a record out that people are now. I think we've been talking about it a lot the last few weeks and now we want people to hear it.
Absolutely. Are you excited for the album drop?
Definitely. Definitely. I mean, as I say, it can't come soon enough. I mean, things take such a long time now, As you will be aware, because of vinyl, you know, it all slows down. So you end up with this gap between finishing and, the actual records in actual shops. So by the time you get there, you're just like, Oh my God, now release it.
When did you guys start working on it?
Well, probably Seriously, last spring. The spring break. Was when we actually started I mean, we tiptoed around the idea for about three or four months, I suppose. Towards the end of lockdown, Tracey was quite keen. And then I think we finally committed, yeah, last spring and started recording some basic ideas then and then went into a proper studio in Bath to do vocals and some overdubs and the mixing and stuff with our friend Bruno, Engineer. And then I think we had it all wrapped up September, October last year. So yeah.
Was there anything specific that made you guys want to come back?
I think it was just a force of circumstance more than anything else. I think lots of people know we'd been on separate solo tracks for many years. In fact, that period of our lives was actually longer than the years we were in everything but the girl together, you know. You know, Tracey was writing for The New Statesman, putting out solo albums, like Run, Buzzing, Fly and being a DJ and come back and explode three albums with guitars in more recent years. But I think the pandemic changed everything really like it did for a lot of people and reset a lot of boundaries. And I think, you know, I think we just felt changed by it. You know, and Tracey said at the end of it, we really are going to go back to the people we were, you know, Have we been changed? It just seemed like just the perfect moment to sort of do this thing that's been in the background for so long. You know, and as Tracey said, if we don't do it now, we might never do it.
Exactly. I had that sense of time passing, you know, And I think, again, the whole pandemic thing, I think it did make people very aware of time and the unpredictability of your life. Yeah. That thing that you can't plan, things, you know, that obviously was such a blow to all of us, all of our plans are scuppered for the power to control our life is taken away. And I think that was a realisation for a lot of people, you know. So again, it made us think, look, come on, you do need to seize the moment. If there's something you think you want to do, then you've got to do it. Now, you can't say, Oh, well, maybe we'll see that in five years' time.
And does that play into the songwriting that you guys went onto to produce that idea of like, you know, we've got to seize the day, as it were?
I mean, I think it did, but we're kind of subconsciously, I don't think we sat down thinking, right, let's encapsulate all that in our songs. Yeah, but, you know, when you start writing, I just think whatever thoughts are bubbling around in your mind and in your subconscious, they just come out. And if you're, you know, if you're writing in a good, free way, you just let whatever comes come out. So we were trying to run quite directly and quite emotionally. And whatever feelings we were having, we were trying to express those in songs. And I think when we look back now, when we look at it, we can go, Yeah, there's lots of lyrics about, you know, wanting to connect with people, wanting to make something happen and wanting to seize the moment, you know, live in the now all that stuff. So you kind of come through.
When it came to your actual sound on this album, how would you describe it compared to previous work?
Yeah, I mean, I think there's a lot of things we hadn't done before. Yeah. I mean, I've been working, like I said, the last few years. I'd gone back to exploring guitars and a live band set up. I was working with a lot of open tunings and looking at music in a completely different way. Yeah, when it came to this project, I kind of ran that course and I was looking for something new again. Yeah, I started to experiment with piano improvisations and some electronic kinds of soundscapes, kind of montage stuff, and that's really where we sort of began the project because it was just all I had at the time. We were a very low base, no expectations. We wanted to just start with something, you know, new and that stuff felt new. We hadn't done that before and a couple of the early tracks were the ambient ones on the record with no beats, which again, electronic tracks with no Beats is not something we did in the nineties. You know, things like interior space when you mess up, lost, you know, these kinds of tracks I think started to explore a slightly different area. Yeah. And then as we got our confidence up, we started to increase the pulse and the rhythm. We started to put beats on some of the tracks and I realised I could go in slight directions that we hadn't travelled down before, like that sort of two step south London feel of nothing left to lose. You know, that was not something that we ever explored back in the nineties, but clearly has a, you know, a kind of linear progression in electronic music from that time. You know, the whole kind of UK garage scene blew up in the late nineties. Ideas and has obviously mutated and changed and is still, you know, a very sort of contemporary sound. So yeah, it was a mixture of new ideas and new ways of doing things, leaning on that kind of electronic legacy that I suppose we've got, but just trying to do it in a new way.
Yeah, that's great. I mean, I've heard some of the tracks and I thought they were brilliant. I really enjoyed it. Yeah. Also really liked the artwork that you guys have got for, I mean, all the different covers and then everything I was wondering how did that come about for you guys like the esthetic and the artwork and all that kind of stuff?
Well, it was done by John Gilson, who designed our covers and artwork for Oh God, how long might it be because he started doing your sleeves for bars in July, didn't he?
Yeah, he did. And 20 years previously, Yeah. When I was running the Cherry Jam. Yeah.
And like fliers and so.
He's been there 21 years I think.
Yeah. And he comes up with something different every time. He's just an amazing project and it doesn't have a kind of right this is my look, you know, this is what it was to look. You just approach everything fresh? And we said, we don't want to be a, you know, a photo of us on the front cover, you know, just do something graphic.
He immediately spotted the fact that, you know, you can use the initials BTJ TGT, the type of fuse, and they're both formats. So he just came up with this idea, you know. Fuzing.
And it's almost like a kind of optical illusion thing. You feel like if you turn it one direction, you can read the BTJ and then turn it the other way if used. So he came up with that quite quickly and just sent it through this. We just wrote and went, Oh my God, that's perfect. You know, again, it looks quite timeless.
Yeah, it looks modern. You know, you couldn't, you couldn't place it in an era and go, Oh, it's really seventies working with something. It's like you can't really place it anywhere. It just looks quite, you know, timeless and contemporary at the same time.
What kind of stuff have you guys been listening to lately, whether it's fed into the album or just, you know, what's your what kind of stuff are you spending?
Yeah. I mean, I DJing, you know, in clubs probably ten years ago now, and I was doing it every weekend for a very long time. Yeah. But I still have that kind of crate diggers itch, and I'm always interested in new music and what new people are doing. So about nine years ago, I started a public playlist on Spotify called Spin Cycle, which is basically like a repository for everything. I am into the old brand new releases, you know, retro stuff that I've just unearthed and discovered. And I think that's probably as good a template as any for if you want to kind of root around and find out maybe the things that have influenced us and certainly me as a producer over the last five or six years, and I'm always, you know, I don't really follow artists. I just kind of follow music. My ears just get picked up by new ways of using beats, new ways of splitting high hats, new ways of wobbling, the bass, you know, new ways d tuning the vocal. I don't know if it catches my ear. I'm interested.
Is there any anything you guys think people should really know about the album?
Just that It's out on Friday. We're at that point now where I kind of feel like our job now is to hand it over to the listeners and then, you know, it becomes theirs at that point, you know, all our talking about it or yeah, explaining and, you know, telling people what it is that's like, okay, that's fine up to a point.
But then listeners take it and they make of it whatever they want and they take it into their lives and sit alongside whatever else they're listening to. And, you know, it takes on a whole new life. So that's the thing that's about to happen.