Ruthless: Clouds

Scottish duo Clouds, aka Calum Macleod and Liam Robertson, have been turning heads for over a year now with their abrasive style of techno and raucous back-to-back dj sets. Their recent Hyp mix, and past releases on Montreal’s Turbo Recordings have shown a rough n’ ready approach to their music that prioritises functionality over guile, and does so to great effect.

Their next output, Tannhauser Acid Works pt.1, is set for November 19th, comes backed by a tough, Truss remix, and will kick off a series of three similar records. Ahead of the release, the guys chatted to Hyponik about Blawan comparisons, the grey skies of Scotland and the standard of UK techno.

Firstly, explain how two young lads from Perth, Scotland end up making such ruthless techno. Who, and what, were the influences along the way?
We went to the same high school and often shared new music with each other. We listened to techno a bit but it wasn’t until we were about 17/18 that we properly got into it. Being from Scotland we are used to grey skies and miserable people so perhaps that’s where the darkness comes from in our music. We’ve always been into the harder sounding stuff so people like Surgeon have influenced us greatly.

How much are your tunes influenced by UK techno compared to other styles?
The UK has always seemed to be better than the rest of the world at making electronic music, we know shit happened in Detroit and that was great but we’re really into the whole UK thing. I think we draw from it a lot when we’re making music, more so than any other style of techno.

There are a lot of comparisons to draw between what you’re making and some recent Blawan tracks. Presumably you take the compliment, but how similar do you think your music actually is?
We certainly take the compliment. We play at least one Blawan track every set so his sound is definitely something we admire. There are similarities with one track in particular but we’ve been very cautious to make sure our music stays unique to us. We listen to a lot of music and it varies in style month-to-month. We feel that is shown pretty clearly in all the music we have released. There isn’t a distinct guideline for our tunes.

Which other producers pushing a similar sound are you into at the moment?
We are really into Truss, AnD, Happa and Metrist at the minute. Each making really cool, edgy techno. All UK-based artists which is pretty cool. Paul Birken is another guy making some really cool tracks, although he is from the States. Truss has done an incredible remix of the track “Those Cracks In Your Face, Do They Hurt?”

How do you split the djing between you? And, how does producing as a pair work?
We dj back to back playing one track each, it seems to work. We’re looking into maybe two tracks each but are unsure of when we are going to make that leap. When it comes to producing usually one of us will have ideas done at home and then we both work on and develop the ideas. Typically, a track will get about 60% done by one of us on our own and then we finish it up together. We would love to work on more material together from the start but lack of studio space has proved to be a bit of a problem.

Do either of you have solo projects as well?
No, we are still trying to make this project good. We both make a lot of different music but that is purely out of boredom and will never see the light of day.

Do you have plans for a Clouds live show? What do you see as its attraction over djing?
We would love to do a Clouds live show but we are in no rush to get started on that. We are enjoying djing a lot right now so will probably keep going with that for the time being. We would prefer to do a live show with a lot of machinery and gear as opposed to Ableton and a laptop as we reckon that would be a lot more fun.

Why is Turbo Recordings right for your music? And, what is next after this release?
Turbo is great. We get on really well with Thomas and he seems to understand what we are trying to do. They give us a lot of creative freedom, letting us design our own artwork etc. We are finishing up a bunch of tracks at the minute, some of which will be on part 2 of the Tannhauser Acid Works series. We hope to write an album early next year, the plan is to go into an isolated cabin in the North of Scotland and write a bunch of tracks.

Richard Akingbehin

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