Finishing off one phase and beginning with another, South East London artist/music production duo Goth Tech are starting to drop a new run of tracks to go into a new ‘full-length’ recording that for now comes up in the album title column of iTunes as a blank.
In 2013, they released a digital LP – one month and one song at a time on their Soundcloud – to make up the aptly-titled Year of Goth Tech, which included 12 tracks of varying lengths, while strictly adhering to a 111bpm constraint. It’s an arbitrarily assigned tempo applied to what is a musical oeuvre and visual aesthetic that follows some fairly rigid guidelines, only to generate a primitive pastiche of signifiers that are firmly embedded in the social media interfaces that Goth Tech draws from. “Sometimes I imagine the music as a loose cloud of ideas, things like 90s house and trance and 909 hi-hats, all surrounding someone but barely holding things together,” types Josh Grigg in pink font, to Holly White’s lime-green, on a Google doc stand-in for an in-person interview.
It’s a chat that was meant to happen at Brick Lane’s Dosa World, a South Indian restaurant with good food and equally enticing front signage that resembles the kind of naïve aesthetic and Microsoft XP-esque fonts that the two 80s-born artist’s work delights in. It’s the sort of Word Art arc –probably the default settings of iMovie –that rises up from behind an image of the globe at the end of their GT My First Movie video announcing “everybody understands you”. Said sequence marks the end of a 35-minute farewell to all that came before, with a glance towards the future. “It’s a summary of the album and influences from 2012 to 2013”, writes White about the video premiering online here at aqnb, which Grigg seconds: “it was sort of a way to bring together all the things we’d worked on up until that point in order to enter the next phase”.
And bring those things together it does, as the video follows the smooth glide of a cursor through the Goth Tech Tumblr, footage of people crying into their webcams, the pink and blue cartoon mascots animated for the band and a lovesick Cher from Clueless complaining, “But now I don’t know how to act around him”.
“Goth Tech really wanders around the line between fact and fiction”, writes Grigg in light of GT‘s GOTH TECH TV segments, seemingly personal vlog posts and excerpts from a reality show collage –cut from an original ‘Nothingness’ video –where a woman moans on a mobile phone next to a pool, “I miss my childhood, so much”.
“There’s definitely a teenage nostalgia caught up with Goth Tech”, writes White, citing a past spent in Camden and at festivals as early influencers and Grigg’s early days out at hard house and trance clubs. “[It’s] sort of clashing, or drifting out of time, or tune with each other, like memories”, he offers, adding that there’s a certain element of “greed” in the music that comes from Goth Tech’s shared fascination with YouTube, “people just grabbing at history and culture to patch themselves together”.
Mining a decidedly 90s aesthetic with a particularly contemporary user-defined online youth subculture, Goth Tech draws on a thematic thread of consumption and branding that also runs through White’s solo work, with its fixation on Snickers bars, Lana Del Rey and Baskin Robbins, as well as a recent video series that takes place at Sainsbury’s supermarket. “We had the idea for that story about the couple that divorce and have to divide up the Sainsbury’s when we were in Edinburgh Sainsbury’s together”, writes Grigg about the shared inspiration behind White’s ‘Supermarket Café’. “We actually have an agreement that we can both use that storyline, I just haven’t made my version yet… I don’t think my one will have time travel in it”.
“I’m not sure my one is specifically about divorce”, adds White, “but, yes, that is true.”
In their own words Goth Tech is an art project that draws from YouTube, Tumblr, Twitter and other online social media to explore, as Grigg describes, “the ways that people absorb culture around them and then show their influences aesthetically”. For Grigg and White, that means on-the-road renditions of Rihanna’s ‘We Found Love’, public confessional videos and an opening segment from another guy also called Goth Tec who doesn’t quite approve. “He’s someone we found once we started, and got really into watching, ‘cos we had similar names and he’s into larp [live action role-playing] and being vegan etc”, writes Grigg about their almost-namesake, “We contacted him, to say that we had been watching, and he told us we had to stop because there is already a music genre called goth tech and he said our website was shit… it was very sad.” **