By TERRI LEE FABOUROS
THE debut album Milky Waves from brother and sister outfit Voltaire Twins was launched at Shebeen in Melbourne to an appreciative and much anticipated crowd last month.
TWINS Jaymes and Teagan Voltaire, both in their late 20s, have been gigging together since high school days and have amassed a huge following along the way.
THE pair decided to form a band while at university. Jaymes studied creative writing, Teagan studied filmmaking and both were in separate bands. It was during this time they realised they had something unique going on so gave it all away to concentrate on their music together and became the Voltaire Twins.
Their genre is dance music, sonic vibe 70s disco with Fleetwood Mac being a big influence on them. Using a bunch of synthesizers, electronic drum machines, including live drums and percussion, bass guitar and lead, their sound is contagious with unique overtones of pop and synth riffs. One of their songs, Glass Tooth, incorporates the large sound of live percussion and drums with over lay of drum machine producing a sound dripping with sweat and glitter. Their signature blend of 70s disco, 80s pop and 90s beat takes you on a nostalgic journey to when synthesizes were first introduced and forging ahead with an outer worldly sound.
Milky Waves was recorded using Pro Tools software. Jayme’s stresses that Ableton was used for writing because it’s more of a loop base program and great for arranging due to the ease of moving things around. Then once everything was in place, they recorded live into Pro Tools. Although you can hear the fabulous electronic sound throughout, rather than use midi controls they used live instruments, which created depth and substance to the mix.
Says Jaymes: “It is a different way of recording with the 70s sound. The drum sound and mike technique have its own idiosyncratic textures and techniques and this is what we really like. I know it’s not what is really happening in the scene, but we thought when it comes to making the album, it should reflect what we really love, which is 70s pop and disco, so that’s the route we took.
“We do use a drum machine when we play live and send different midi signals from a laptop to the drum machine, which has separate outputs from each drum within the drum machine. Because we use a lot of loops live, an MPC sampler is used. So I basically trigger a lot of things with one hand while I’m playing the synthesizer with the other hand together with Teagan playing her synth. So you really have to pay attention within the song being played. It forces you to step up your game and make it as live and engaging as possible.”
I asked him how he gets his inspiration to write a song.
“The kernels of ideas often come to me in the shower. It’s like sensory deprivation and I enter into a kind of meditative state. Because the water is hitting me, my self-awareness takes over. I have a lot of ideas in the shower but resist the urge to do anything with them, instead I let them percolate in the back of my mind. Then I like to spend the day and night in the studio, which is a window less space with double locked doors, sound proof and dark. I like to sit and meditate on those thoughts and let them consciously brew up. I like to find different ways to break a rhythm and sometimes like to break a perspective when writing.”
Both write songs and both have different approaches.
Recently they came back from New York City after attending and participating in the South by Southwest Festival, which runs for several weeks. Nearly every record label along with film companies, marketing companies, producers, and music industry people are there and it’s a big 24-hour conference come party atmosphere going on.
Whilst over there they made heaps of friends and connections and the name of The Voltaire Twins is now known internationally, which fortunately for them, has set up a growing name within our very own Australian music scene as well.
Milky Waves is available for sale through most records shops.