Hailing from Manchester, acoustic-electronica trio GoGo Penguin draw on influences from Brian Eno and John Cage, to Massive Attack and Aphex Twin, to create a sound based around minimalist piano, propulsive bass lines and electronica-inspired drums. Critically acclaimed, their work has been shortlisted for the Mercury Prize.
We caught up with pianist Chris Ilingworth to hear more about about the band and their future gig at the Sage as part of the Gateshead International Jazz Festival.
Hi Chris, you’re up in Gateshead to play the Sage on the 1st April as part of a double bill with Shobaleader One. What can we expect?
We are really excited for this gig and hopefully it’ll be a really good evening. It’ll be a dream come true for the band as we are all huge Squarepusher fans. Our band will be playing some of the material from our v.20 and Man Made albums.
Have you worked with Shobaleader before?
We’ve never worked with Squarepusher before no, but we were at a festival once in Brighton where our set times overlapped a little. During our interval we were able to run out and watch some of his set. We were told that he did the same in his interval. Squarepusher has been a huge influence on us all, but probably most with Rob and the beats he produces.
You’re also touring a new score for Godfrey Reggio’s cult film Koyaanisqatsithe in the same month, do you find it hard to tour two different performances at the same time?
To be honest we’ve never done it before so we’ll find out. Last year we played over 160 gigs and were away for over 200 days so sometimes you get to a point where you feel like you need to do new things. We want to keep things new and improvised, and this is especially true as some of our audience will never have seen us before. Hopefully the Koyaanisqatsithe gigs will be fresh and interesting and keep us excited to play.
You’re busy lads, with a new Abbey Road session released recently, the Koyaamisqasithe score and a European tour. What do you enjoy most, playing/recreating your music live or being in the studio and being creative?
It probably goes in cycles to be honest. Last year we were really excited about touring but after so many gigs we maybe became shelves of ourselves. Now it feels time to do new things so we are working on our new album and also a special piece for the Hull city of culture. They feel really exciting. Maybe this time next year we will want to tour more again.
Your music sound is quite diverse and you’ve stated your influcences as classic jazz right through to electronic acts like Massive Attack and Aphex Twin- is there one type of sound you’re most interested in at the moment and how is it affecting your sound?
We all have similar tastes but are very different people so that makes being in a band very interesting. Personally I’m listening to Thom Yorke and John Hopkins a lot and both artists are doing what they want to without limiting themselves to labelling their music. I find their work really interesting.
And finally, you’re signed on a multi-album deal with Blue Note Records, what’s coming next for GoGo Penguin?
The new album is being recorded in June and we are hoping to have that out at the start of next year. Our work with the Hull culture peice is going well and will be based on the industrial north and abstract peices. It looks like we will play the peice in a few different venues and then, if we can, record it. For us the challenge is always recording work which blends the perfection of the recording studio with the realities of playing live. It’s a real challenge.