10 for 2011 Interview: Trophy Wife

By on Wednesday, 22nd December 2010 at 2:00 pm

Trophy Wife is a trio from Oxford that has already turned heads on the strength of their debut single, ‘Microlite’, released on the always ahead of the curve indie label Moshi Moshi Records. I asked some questions, and they kindly answered. I inquire about the origin of ‘Trophy Wife’ the band name and they tell me about their unusually/wonderfully charitable plans for the Christmas holiday.

Tell us a little about yourselves – who plays what in the band? How long have you known each other? How did you guys get together as a band?

Jody: Sings and plays guitar and bass
Kit: Drums, Percussion, Sampler
Ben: Keyboards, Sampler, Lights

We have been making music together for about 7 years in various different forms. Us meeting each other was a case of mistaken identity; Jody pretended to be a female drummer so he could get into Kit’s post-rock band. Trophy Wife happened by accident really, we started recording dancey music late at night over a few drinks.Things grew and we set out to challenge ourselves and do something that was new to us..

At least in America, the term ‘trophy wife’ conjures up something usually not related to music, like the pretty wives of athletes. Who came up with your band name and what is the story behind it?

We’ve had the name for a while and it seemed to suit the sounds we started making. To us, it’s a name that is both glamorous and glitzy yet somehow inherently dark. In many ways this is also how we see our music; Kit had heaps of old manual photographs of these desolate, windswept English locations and we pasted the words ‘Trophy Wife’ in big pink letters onto them and we really liked the relationship between the two.

All your bios say you’re from Oxford. Is that accurate? (a lot of bands meet up after moving from somewhere else from uni, etc.) Are you still based in Oxford? How do you think Oxford contributed to your sound?
Indeed we are all from Oxford, we live there now. It has a lot of musicians for such a small city so it is very easy to start up a band here. Everyone knows each other and is aware of what is progressing musically around them. That atmosphere has certainly helped us although we’re not sure if our sound is directly linked to the city. It can feel a bit claustrophobic, it’s a universe all of its own but there’s always a lot of creative activity going on. We grew up in the surrounding suburban neighbourhoods where there’s not much else to do other than immerse yourself in your favourite music.

You have supported fellow Oxford band Foals on tour. How did you strike up a friendship with them? What’s it like touring with an established band like them?
We have known one another for some time. Kit went to primary school with Yannis (Philippakis) and most of us lived together up until recently. It’s obviously great touring with friends and things felt really natural and relaxed on that tour. We feel lucky to have had the opportunity to open the shows for them so early on.

One description you have given your music yourself is ‘ambitionless office disco’. Please explain.
Most descriptions of bands are often misplaced or too generic. We wanted to connect ourselves to something that is specific to us so we came up with our own term to describe our music. We also came up with commuter pop and pentatonic disco.

Who came up with the idea for the really thought-provoking video for your single ‘Microlite’? It’s one of my favourite promo videos of the year.

The concept was created by our good friend Joseph Keirs; he developed things with the director, David Trumble, and between all of us we managed to piece it together. It’s testament to Joseph and David’s ability that they managed to create a sort of mini-film with a narrative in such a short space of time. We wanted to do something that wasn’t just us playing our instruments and tried to create a Kubrick-esque atmosphere that draws you in. The next one is going to be more conventional, without the fatality.

London-based Moshi Moshi Records has been the launching pad for many artists that have gone on to great things, like Friendly Fires. How did you decide to sign with them?
We weren’t expecting to get something out so early on, and we have always talked about Moshi as a label we’d love to put something out on. They introduced us to stuff by Teeth, Dntel and James Yuill and were always going to be our first choice to release with. It’s an awesome label and they really seem to understand what we’re doing.

What singers and/or bands do you consider your greatest influences?
Hank Marvin, The Notwist, Studio, Tortoise, Ennio Morricone, PJ Harvey, Polmo Polpo, Fleetwood Mac.

Tell us about your 2010. What was the best moment of the year for you as a band?
Getting the copies of our single through the post was pretty great. Either that or coming off stage at Brighton Dome on the Foals tour; that was the most enjoyable show of our lives I think.

What’s something about your band that most people do not know or would not guess?
We are all descendants of Cornish sailors, and Jody has an encyclopedic knowledge of Welsh sporting statistics between the years 1991-1995.

Name something you’d like to do in 2011 that you have never done before.
We’d like to attend the Chelsea Flower Show.

How are you spending your holidays?
We’re really excited about going to the Electric Peacock Festival in Sri Lanka to play on a beach this month. It’s an event that’s been organised to raise money for children who’ve been made orphans after the tsunami. It’s for a good cause.

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