Topless is a stunning duo from the Netherlands breaking on to the scene with incredible retro style and 80s synth grooves. The band's eponymous EP arrived early this year with the fantastic single "Say You Love Me" (video and track below), among other old-school hits. I was immediately intrigued by the perfect balance of high production quality without skimping on the retro vibe, so I had to get in touch with Topless. The band was signed to Instant-Replay last year, so thankfully, plenty more music is on the horizon. Be sure to read the full interview below.
Besides, when else can you search the word "Topless" and genuinely not intend to find something dirty?
First off, who's in the band? How did you guys meet?
Paya: It's just me, Paya, and Cris…We met somewhere around 2000, 2001. We were both breakdancing a lot back then, and we used to hang out at this gym, where we practiced every wednesday. I was making hip hop beats at the time, and Cris just came over at my place, and goof around. Actually we started making music, when we got into a rock band called Stereo Tower. When it came to recording and writing new stuff, we often drifted off and started making Freestyle and New Wave inspired tracks, but we never really took it somewhere. Untill we re-descovered the stuff that we used to do, a couple of years later in 2010, and we decided' to create an act around it (more or less), that combined 80's synth funk music and funny wardobes. Not long after we just came up with the name 'Topless', david, (a good friend of ours) called us, saying that they needed an act for their upcoming festival. The rest was pretty much history…the crowd seemed to love it, and that really motivated us to get more serious with it.
What sort of gear do you when you record (plugins, hardware synths, analog, digital)?
Cris: When it comes to hardware, I think, we use the Roland Juno 2 and the MicroKorg the most. Paja also owns a Clavia Nord Lead, and that's a great synth for original Pad and string sounds…For drum programming, we mostly use vintage Linndrum, Alesis and Roland modules, both in software, and hardware.
What's your DAW of choice?
Paya: We both use Logic Pro. I think that, in the end, all DAW software are pretty much the same,…..they're just tools to craft the ideas you have in mind. I just happened to stumble upon Logic, before that, I was only working with hardware. For beats I used the Ensoniq ASR-10, Akai MPC 2000 or Roland MV-8000. For recordings I used a Yamaha HD recorder. Logic Pro works good on the creative process and comes with an unbelievable range of samples with makes it easy to put down a sketch or rough idea more quickly .
Who are your influences? Who are your favorite bands today?
Cris: Of course we listen to a lot of 80's music…there are still a lot of hidden gems that still amaze us every time we find one..
but there are some really good artists today, so I guess we can have a new favorite band, any minute now..But i would have to say disco and funk definitely pushed us towards making the music we make today.
What's the creative process like for you?
Paya: Ideas pop up on a daily basis…especially when i'm taking a rest. Work and the daily life sometimes gets in the way of putting everything down on paper or record it, but on the other hand, that might just spark the synergy that fuels our process. We record ideas on our phones and throw beats at eachother and come together and discuss what we think of it. Then if a melody or beat sticks with us, we start jamming with it, and soon we'll figure out just what the song will be about and how we incorporate the vocals. It's important to enjoy the process and we really just mess around and have a lot of fun with it. When we're on to something solid, we work it out step by step and listen to it a lot. That's basically the way the process works for us.
A special thanks to Topless for interviewing with me. Be sure to grab Topless's EP from iTunes, check out their music video below, follow them on SoundCloud, and keep up to date with their Blog.