Interview: TETRAHEDRA

Interview: TETRAHEDRA

On the back of the buzz from their first single off the upcoming visual EP ‘SOMA’, Figaro caught up with Maddie Otto, Max Dowling and Lena Douglas of Melbourne electronic soul-pop band Tetrahedra, to talk all things ‘Either’, the ins and outs of making a visual EP and sneaky concussions on Mount Macedon.

On the back of the buzz from their first single off the upcoming visual EP ‘SOMA’, Figaro caught up with Maddie Otto, Max Dowling and Lena Douglas of Melbourne electronic soul-pop band Tetrahedra, to talk all things ‘Either’, the ins and outs of making a visual EP and sneaky concussions on Mount Macedon.


Congratulations on the release of ‘Either’, how are you guys feeling?

MO: Yeah good! It’s one of those things where you spend so much time working on something and you finally release it and in a way it’s a little anticlimactic, but now what’s really exciting is in the last kind of week it’s gained traction...we're feeling really great about it.

Is it weird releasing just the first part of something bigger? You guys obviously have the full scope of the EP as a whole but we’re only just getting our first little taste with ‘Either’.

MD: Maybe… I think for our own sakes’ it feels like that because we initially wanted to release it first as the full product and then stagger the singles, but our PR advised us to do the opposite which is probably the best idea, but creatively you kind of feel like doing that. I think also probably the nature of our music, we’ll probably never have the feeling of dropping a single and then instant gratification. I think the audiences that are into our music don’t really interact with it that way.

LD: I think also our music works in the context of our other music, so it’s hard to isolate one song and be like “this is representative of Tetrahedra as a band” and I think it will be nice when it’s all out as one whole thing because then it will have a bit more of a broader context to it.

Just out of curiosity, what does ‘Soma’ mean and how did that end up being the name of this EP?

MO: Well we were sort of reflecting on, I guess after we’d done everything, reflecting on Prue’s work and what she does particularly with the human body and how she decontextualizes and recontextualizes it with different objects and costumes. I already had thought about this word earlier in the year, it’s an ancient Greek word that basically refers to the body separate from the mind, and as we continued with the EP and working with Prue it just became really apparent that it was super relevant. And it also flows on quite nicely from our first EP, ‘Kinesphere’, which refers to the space your body and your arms can reach.

So then how did this EP work production-wise, did the music come first then taken to the artists you were working with to come up with the visuals, or the other way around?

MD: It was a little bit of a combination, we had the initial concept for it and it was good actually, the process of writing grants made us solidify the idea and then we spoke to Prue a bit more about it, then it was a bit more of a back and forth, writing music that we thought could correspond well with the visual element but also sat well in its own flowing body. There’s probably twice as much music that came in for this project, just songs and ideas for transitions that hit the cutting room floor because it didn’t fit how we wanted the whole thing to feel.

LD: It was important to us that it was one flowing work -

MO: But then that they could still stand alone, similar to the visuals – like each piece works within the context but also can stand alone as its own piece of music and art.

SOMA FIGA.jpg

I think what you guys and other visually-minded artists are doing with the way music video functions is super interesting, it’s really a renaissance of what can be achieved with the form. It’s really not a promotional tool anymore, it’s an artistic extension of the music and can be like you guys are doing, a deeply collaborative experience.

MD: And the collaborative element is something we’ve always tried to incorporate into our making and even early on in our first residencies and first headline shows we were always trying to have art direction and trying to activate the space. I guess because we come from kind of a more arty background, trying to tap into the value of cross-disciplinary work and perhaps because of like an over-stimulated populace you can kind of create more engaging, more interesting work by working that way.

MO: I think it’s important, and certainly for us, it’s always been important to think about how an audience can receive the music outside the music itself, particularly with creating a visual element that can sit alongside it.

Yeah and as a fan of you guys and everything you’ve put outwhen it was first announced that this release was going to be a visual EP, it just made so much sense to me.

MD: And we take pride in it too, it’s all about representing yourself.

So tell us about your relationship with Prue Stent.

MO: We have an ongoing relationship with Prue. We did our first band photos with her in 2014 and from then had only done photos with her until this point. She’s just an amazing person and we totally trust her aesthetically and that’s important for us because it’s really hard to hand over something to another artist, particularly when it’s so representative of you. She was really the only person we thought of doing visuals for this project.

LD: I honestly don’t know if we would have done the visual EP if we weren’t working with Prue.

With a visual EP on top of your usual recording process, you do a whole filming process. How was that experience?

MO: It was a crazy whirlwind. Probably the most hectic process, we decided to do it in winter all outdoors – really, really smart idea.

MD: It was insane. Basically, we were filming in Mount Macedon and we were actually in this clip, I think it actually turned out to be the coldest day of the year, at a point, it was below freezing. We were in these mesh-thin bodysuits with holes, no shoes, lying semi-naked on these rocks, it was shit.

MO: Max had a concussion from the night before unknowingly –

MD: Yeah I was faded, it was really bad. But it ended up looking beautiful.

MO: Everyone was excited to be there and so willing to be there, and it was great. It was very cold but we were all in very high spirits.

MD: It was a very beautiful way to start the whole process because that was the first one we did and it was the most hands-on, all the dancers and Prue and Honey our two artistic directors, the videographer Zoe Scoglio, the choreographer Nat Abbott, and all having to group together and not freezing to death to get this content done was just a beautiful day, and set the tone for a really nice collaborative attitude like everyone was in it together.

MO: The actual shooting process itself wasn’t super stressful besides weather stuff, for the most part it was great.

LD: The hard part was actually getting everyone in the same place at the same time.

So are you guys looking forward to your first screening on Thursday?

LD: I’m very excited because I haven’t actually watched the whole EP from beginning to end yet, I’ve just watched it intensely on its own, 30 seconds at a time during editing, so I’m really looking forward to having had a bit of space seeing it with fresher eyes.

Are we thinking yet about how this EP is going to transfer to the live context or are you guys just focused on this release?

MO: Yeah, well our launch at this stage won’t be until February next year, and we have thought about it. With the music we write, we learn how to play it live from the beginning of the process, so it will be one of those things where we kind of have to piece it together, and we’re already rehearsing and writing music in the lead up to this launch because we haven’t done a live show for so long. We kind of want it to be special. 

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