Back in the days before the Internet, before Soundcloud, before streaming, before downloads (illegal or otherwise), listening to new music meant going down to the shops and actually forking over your hard-earned. It’s no wonder there was a certain linear aspect to peoples’ tastes. Who could afford to be into, say hip-hop and indie, heavy metal and house?
Thankfully, with the dawn of the digital era, the shackles have been thrown off. We’re no longer forced to make a choice between one genre and another and the effects of this newfound freedom are starting to show. “I think more and more these days audiences are becoming less separate, “ says Liam Black of the Qemists.
“They are becoming more accepting of a lot more music. Certainly in the younger generation of fans, they are barely making a distinction between the music they listen to and are becoming less specific about what they are into. You become more cultured really,” he continues. “Your taste is wider because there is a lot more out there.”
As one third of a rock/drum and bass band, Black is in a good position to make the call; he might not have been able to make his genre straddling music work if there wasn’t a more open-minded generation out there to appreciate it. Signed to the respected Ninja Tunes label, more commonly known for left-field hip hop and broken beat than a highly charged rock/drum ad bass hybrid, The Qemists are currently putting together their new live show, having finished their second artist album Spirit in the System earlier in the year.
“This time we are recreating the new album live,” says Black. “I guess you could call this version two because last time was the first time out. This show is significantly different. Me, [fellow band members] Leon and Dan have sat around a lot and talked about it and drawn diagrams and idea for the technical side of it, how we want to present it, how we want it perceived by the audience, what do the audience want?
At the end of the day you’re an entertainer. So there are live drums, live guitar, laptops and almost a DJ aspect to it, which I think represents our music well. It shouldn’t really be performed by a fully live band because it’s not made that way. We are half live and half DJ/club culture, so to represent it that way makes visual sense on stage and makes sense in terms of being able to perform it properly.”
The Qemists were childhood friends growing up in seaside town of Brighton on the south coast of England. “Our background was rock,” explains Black. “We were 90s kids so we were listening to Sound Garden, Alice in Chains, Nirvana, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Rage Against the Machine. So we kind of grew up with that, but when we got into clubbing we were exposed to drum and bass which was, for us, the closest thing to rock music for the clubs – similar tempos, similar levels of distortion, aggression. We would make drum and bass in the evening in the studio and play rock music during the day. Eventually, of course, it transpired that we would combine lots of those elements to become The Qemists.”
The new live show has its debut at a festival in Marseille at the end of September before moving onto some dates in Japan in November. Seeing as they’re going to be down this end of the earth anyway, are there any plans to hit our shores any time soon? ‘There’s been some rumblings about coming out to Australia,” reveals Black tentatively. “There’s been some talk with a couple of reasonably well known promoters. It’s certainly an area of the world that we’d like to spend some time in, so watch this space I guess.”