Glass talks to Jimmy Lee of UK band Trailer Trash Tracys

SECOND albums are often tricky as musicians often struggle following the success of a debut. Now returning five years after their first record, Trailer Trash Tracys have come back with a shining follow up named Althaea. Glass spoke to frontman Jimmy Lee about the new record, his Filipino background and musical influences.

What’s the response been like for the new album?
We avoid looking at the reviews. From experience it kind of derails you. I think people are going to be confused about what we’re doing because our references are very very niche and some of the stuff I’ve read from reviews only reference what they know and it turns out to be really generic.

What’s the theme of this album?
I think what this album is trying to do is taking opposites of the first album, so trying to brighten it make it tropical because the first album is quite melancholic. We took a lot of references from tropical Asian records from the 80s, and I could do the Twin Peaks thing and capitalise on the new Twin Peaks record, but why would I want to? Why would I want to be under the umbrella of David Lynch?

You mentioned the music is influenced by Asian musicians from the 80s. How did you discover this music?
I have a few friends who DJ weird records and they’re all on the NTS shows and all these cool radio shows, so I get to hang around with them when I was between the first album and this album, then I got into production and the idea of recording an album and twisting and turning around a record and mixing genres which a lot of people do in London and they do well. It’s an interesting time where people can make a record in their bedroom.

There were a few Japanese producers in the 1980s doing that sort of thing 30 or 40 years ago like the Yellow Magic Orchestra lot and a few more, but they’re mixing Latin rhythms with an Asian feel to it, and then i’d listen to the Latin stuff they were listening to so it’s kind of a chain. There’s something not right about those records because it’s Japanese guys trying to copy South American music and they can’t sing very well so there’s this oddness and weirdness but the production is amazing. I thought it would be interesting to adopt that into our indie background.

The music video for Eden was shot in the Philippines and made by a Filipino artist. Why did you choose this?
My heritage is half Filipino so interest is there and I have family there. I thought it made sense to adopt that and I was over there and I met this director who’s part of this really small scene where there’s a pocket of 100 people that know each other and they go to the same bars and they’re super cool and super in touch with stuff and they all hang out with each other. Ray Martin the film director said let’s just combine and he does a lot of weird  films so we just put it together.

How much creative input did you have?
For the film, I literally went out there and filmed it with a camera. It’s a long story but someone else was supposed to do it and they pulled out and I was out there because I was supposed to pick up the disc and the guy was like “I haven’t done it” and I was thinking, “Oh shit, I’ve gotta go back to Domino and give them a video otherwise they’re not going to release this album for ages” so I just got the camera and met some people and we just filmed it. I’d never done film directing before. Domino were really happy and so I went out and did another one for Siebenkas with the moon and stuff so yeah I did both of them.

What’s did you use for the moon in the Siebenkas video?
I think it’s like a plastic swimming pool party ball thing with a light inside. I had no budget so yeah.

It’s been quite a while since the last record. Was is hard getting back into the groove of things?
Yeah, I guess so. I mean we started making music straight away in 2013 but that was a different album because it was weird avant garde kind of jazz which was a cliche, but that’s what happens, you start getting into weirder stuff, so we canned that. Then as time went by we just put that all to bed and the year went by and we started putting new ideas together, and yeah the album has been done for a year and a half now so it’s been ages but really we were just sorting who was going to put it out and it takes a year with a label.

Do you think you’ll ever revisit the avant garde jazz? I’m curious to hear it.
I don’t want to go down that route. I do like the idea of pop music. I mean I know we’re not really pop but yeah, it’s terrible. I’ve already got the next album I want to release, so that’d be the next thing you hear! It’s just a follow on and a good step, so I’m looking forward to putting that out so that’ll be fun.

 

Trailer Trash Tracys Band members Susanne Aztoria and Jimmy Lee

Where did you record the album?
So we have this little studio called Bangalang studios in Seven Sisters. It’s a very small room with very basic equipment and it’s not really for anyone else but us so yeah, I’d like to expand that place and eventually we’d like to help other artists record and do visual rather than having a recording studio just to make money. I’d rather develop this place and make it a hub of ideas to help interesting people who can’t record or play music, so yeah, that’s something I would like to happen somewhere along the line.

How did you approach the writing process?
We just took ideas from the Asian records and things from the 40s like Sinatra Esque, so pre-pop melodies and programmed loops and rhythms. We worked with a Chinese percussionist, and In terms of lyrics we just take words from books, poetry and anything we can get out hands on.

Who did you album artwork?
It’s actually a South African artist who used inspiration from a Japanese dance called Butoh dance, and it’s a head mask and the original dancer from the photo is Susan’s friend and she didn’t want to be on the cover so we had to cut her out and improvise around her, but we kept the head mask which was the main thing anyway.

Your upcoming concerts are all in Europe. Do you have any plans to go elsewhere like the Philippines in the future?
I think I’ll do a collaboration in the Philippines maybe. In the video with the moon, there’s these two drummers and they’re brothers. I’d like to record with them, but I don’t know if the whole band can go there, but that’s on the cards. We have a really good response in Mexico, and the States, but that’s it really.

by Katrina Mirpuri

Watch the video for Eden Machine below.

About The Author

Katrina Mirpuri

Glass Online music writer

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