The band: Quiet Village
Key release: Silent Movie
Quiet Village is a duo devoted to exhuming the sounds of old "Balearic music," which remains elusive in terms of strict definition, but can be corralled by suggestive mentions of slow disco, humid funk, and lightly brushed pop from the twilight of the '80s. The duo is made up of Joel Martin, a renowned London record collector, and Matt Edwards, a producer who left London for the club-music oasis of Berlin, where he also operates in a hard, dark techno guise as Radio Slave. Together, they fashion a grainy, dreamy downtempo sound that evokes their beloved collections of vintage movie soundtracks without sounding overly beholden to the past.
On meeting collaborator and co-conspirator Joel Martin:
We both went to the same school, but Joel was younger, so we didn't meet then. But we used to both go to the Metalheadz party on Sundays—this was 1995, when drum 'n' bass was incredibly new and incredibly futuristic. And then at the same time, we were both individually going to car boot sales—what do you call them there, garage sales?—to look for old, obscure records. We teamed up then, and that's how it all started.
On what kind of records sparked the Quiet Village sound:
At the time we started, we were heavily influenced by the sound of late-'70s and early-'80s European disco, but we've both always been really big fans of soundtracks, both from now and definitely from the past. Joel has a massive collection of soundtracks from the '60s to the '80s, all this weird Turkish stuff and Italian cop-movie stuff. That was a real middle ground that we both loved, especially a producer like Vangelis. He crosses all the boundaries of what we like: He's made very rhythmic disco tracks, and then he's made a lot of really beautiful, emotive sounds with synthesizers and organic percussion.
On why soundtracks are cool:
It's music that is emotionally challenging and can take you somewhere completely different. I think the best soundtracks work when you don't even have to look at the picture—when you can just close your eyes.
On what "Balearic" might mean to non-Europeans who didn't grow up clubbing in Ibiza:
Balearic music is essentially music that was played in the Balearic Isles and mainland Spain from the late '80s to the early '90s, this mixture of pop, rock, and New Age music. It's very difficult to say what "Balearic" means, because it was basically just all these mainstream European pop hits that worked well in that environment of being in the sun and relaxing by the beach. A lot of the clubs there are open-air, too, which gives them more of a sense of time and space, where people would be dancing not in a black, cavernous club, but outside, where the light is changing. And the drug scene then, in the mid-'80s, made for really pure Ecstasy-driven music. Whereas now we have cocaine music. [Laughs.]
On making the album:
Essentially, a lot of the influences come from our record collections. Joel is one of the most revered record collectors in London; I'm an avid record collector, but I'm nothing compared to Joel. So we take a lot of samples, but we also do a lot of overdubbing of new sounds, and work with friends who have added parts. They're mostly sound-collages, I guess. In talking about it more and more, we've realized our work is pretty similar to the way DJ Shadow worked in the past, where tracks are essentially made up of different "songs," not just samples.
On growing up with dance music:
I was really lucky to be exposed in the late '80s and early '90s to some of the best clubs in London by friends who were heavily involved in raving. This was a time when there weren't all the subgenres there are now in dance music, so if you went out clubbing, you heard lots of everything from techno to house to hip-hop to rock, a lot of pop and also this Italian house music. The music was a lot happier then than it is now, after everything became so fragmented. The way club culture works now, people are very safe with what they play.