Interview with Liverpool band Outfit

Liverpool band Outfit’s acclaimed album ‘Performance’ is a brooding contemplation on the subject of transformation and their experimental sound that has earned them comparisons with Portishead. We caught up with singer Andrew Hunt:

Hi Andrew, your album ‘Performance’ deals with the subject of personal change, to what extent was that based on experience?

Well, a fairly common theme on the record is identity and finding out who you really are – the realization that personality and identity are quite fragmented and that you are different people in different places. So that’s something the record plays on, particularly the song Performance which was inspired by my girlfriend going to a performance art exhibition in London where everyone who RSVP’d was assigned a character that they had to play for the evening, like a previous life. My girlfriend was given a job as an ex-record executive and the person she went with got assigned a failed musician, and they went together and had to spend the whole weekend in character like this. It just seemed like a poignant reflection of how real life works.

That kind of answers my next question which was about the significance of the album’s title...

Well there are a couple of other things that tie into that. We wanted the title to be something that was stark and plain, and once the song performance was written it seemed to fit nicely; we made the record in a home studio and because of the limitations of space we weren’t able to record live together as a band so we were consciously constructing something that resembled a performance, but that was in the true sense of the word a full performance, it was lots of individual performances and a lot of manipulation. A lot of over dubbing and processing and stuff like that. We spent a lot of time trying to replicate the sound of a live band, and you end up focussing on all the imperfections. That’s one thing we learned while making the record, that it’s all the imperfections that make it interesting.

It sounds like you were making a performance of a performance, so it works on that level too.

Yeah! Even the concept of identity and the search for the self ties in with this idea of performance as well. Every day when you go out and see someone you’re essentially performing your personality, projecting your values, what you’re interested in and what makes you you.

The band’s sound seems a lot more consistent on this record than in the past. Could it be argued that you’ve become less experimental?

I don’t think that to be honest. One of the things we wanted to do with this record was make something that was coherent and that has consistency. On our previous EP, although I love that EP, it’s trying to cover the range of an album in four tracks. So I think with that EP perhaps people though that’s what we were about as a band. I think our music will always be varied, but with this record we wanted to tie a sonic landscape and make something that was coherent as a whole. It was actually probably our most experimental work because we got to work on it so much at home and have full control over what we were doing.

Outfit’s album Performance is out now.

Interview by Joseph Smith.

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