Tuesday, 24 November 2009

We Fell To Earth

A hooded man sleeps on a sofa in an East London bar. It’s Richard File, one half of Anglo-American Kraut-hop hypnotists, We Fell to Earth. “Sorry” he says as he wipes his weary eyes, “I thought I could get some kip if I turned up early for the interview.” He is bald with no eyebrows, giving him the appearance of an Olympic swimmer and he speaks with an easy English manner. His band mate, Wendy Rae Fowler, is strikingly different, with her long black hair and thick southern states drawl.
“We come from polar opposites in a way,” Richard explains. “Wendy comes from the rock end of the spectrum whereas I’ve gone from djing and looping beats to learning to play guitar and singing. We challenge each other and we have to keep each other excited about the opposite end of the spectrum.”
Richard File is best known for his work with electronic break beat group UNKLE. He met Wendy, who has worked with the likes of Queens of the Stone Age, at Rancho de la Luna studios in Joshua Tree California, home of the fabled desert sessions. The desolate desert landscape is said to have been an influence on the cosmic Teutonic synth sound of We Fell to Earth, although the pair are now based in East London.
“It’d be nice to go to the desert someday and do some writing,” Says Wendy, “but I found the idea of coming here really inspiring. There is so much going on in the music scene, it’s exciting.”
The gap between the entirely different world’s these two musicians have occupied is bridged by a mutual adoration of that most enchanting of genres, Kraut rock. Richard and Wendy feel the time is ripe for a kraut revival.
“I think a few people with really good taste in music have got hung up on the kraut thing recently and it has sent a wave through the artistic community,” considers Wendy. “Everyone’s picking up on it, thank God, because it’s really intelligent and inspiring. You can get onto a level of stillness from the repetitive sounds. It helps to quiet the mind. Like a nice break from the chaos of everything that’s been going on in the world.”
Richard regards the last Horrors album and the new Flaming Lips record as evidence of widespread kraut fever and hopes that this will encourage fans to discover the old Gods of kraut rock. “Bands like Faust, Neu!, Can and any others we can mention, they need as many props and as many mentions as they can get for the rest of time.”
Kraut rock influenced both rock and electronic music in equal measure and it seems fitting that two artists from each discipline should unite over its reinvention. We Fell to Earth’s sound has a less organic texture than their Germanic influences and has even been compared to the likes of Massive Attack and Portishead. Although, as Wendy points out, the trip hop comparisons are not entirely justified as WFTE don’t use samples.
Their self titled album, released this year, is likely to gain a lot of attention due to the use of its content on several American TV shows. The un-intrusive compositions are perfect for soundtracks and producers of shows like Gossip Girl, Numb3rs and CSI NY seem to agree. Richard is ambiguous as to what extent he considers promotional use of their work to be acceptable. “We don’t watch TV. We don’t need it. There’s a certain point where a line has to be drawn with TV programs and adverts.” Still, I’m sure he appreciated the publicity and the money; although that isn’t the reason he and Wendy started this project. So what offerings have the pair to contribute to the Bavarian banquet of kraut rock history? Like a meteorite falling to Earth, they intend to make an impact. “You wanna make a mark don’t ya?” He continues, “We want to communicate with people at a level which will inspire them to create something else and take it even further.”

Published: P.i.X magazine: issue # 38, November 2009

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