Beginning his career in 2010, it became very clear that Francis Inferno Orchestra was one to watch as he found quickly himself at the forefront of the booming Melbourne dance scene. Known for his blending of punching drum rhythms and layered disco samples his music saw releases on prestigious labels such as Let’s Play House, Voyeurhythm and Drumpoet Community. Going on to form Superconscious Records with close friend Fantastic Man, they’ve been maintaining stellar output from themselves and artists such as Luis CL and András.
The label’s latest release sees FIO exploring the ambient genre in Veranda Culture, an album written somewhat in response to Griffin James’ time living in London and the chaos that comes with it. He talks to us about ambient music, the way place affects his music making, his album aims and his dream collaboration with Phil Collins.
First off, what’s the significance behind the name ‘Francis Inferno Orchestra’?
As I’ve said in a few interviews, theres no real interesting story to it haha, sorry to dissapoint but my friend just thought of it one day and I’ve rolled with it ever since. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
A bit of a genre switch up in deciding to explore ambient, what prompted it?
It’s something I’ve been into for a long time and have made little bits here and there… like Kalamari Desert from my ‘Where Will You be Spending Eternity?’ record. It’s really soothing stuff to write, and at the time of making this record I was so engulfed in the madness of living in London that I was finding quite claustrophobic and stressful that making the melancholic stuff helped me detach a bit.
What do you think the genre affords that other dance musics can’t?
Patience. You can obviously lose yourself in both worlds if the feeling is right but the ambience stuff affords more time to absorb the little intricacies and tiny details.
What was your aim with this album?
I’m not really sure if there was an aim at the beginning. I wanted to explore the more experimental.
electronic side of things so I think the closest thing to a ‘goal’ was to hopefully put together a nice finished piece of work eventually. As a couple of years went by, and more bits came together; with the help of a few confidence boosts through friends and people I look upto artistically, I was able to finish something a big project I’m really proud of. It’s a great feeling.
How important is song titling to you? Do your songs titles have a direct connection to their form and composition?
I guess it’s somewhat important… I think it’s all about context. Say if you’re going for a minimalist approach or something quite expressive that matches your concept or artwork and so forth. I like hearing a back story on an artist and finding the connection to a song name and a personal story. Some of mine certainly do but those are stories for another time. 🙂
What else in life could be made better by making it ambient?
A recording company just offered you £1m to make an album that is the complete opposite of this one. How does it sound and how do you make it?
I don’t know and I don’t want to hear it.
If I was going to appropriate ‘Veranda Culture’, what would I be wearing and doing?
I tried to think of something profound but you’re probably lying in a field with your friends taking mushrooms or cooking something nice for a loved one. Clothing optional.
Your album was recorded over 3 years between Melbourne and London, in what way do you feel place affects how you write?
London is really intense and chaotic place, and can really wear you down big time. I used the writing sessions of this album in my bedroom to really detach myself from reality my surroundings. I feel as though most of the time.
Is there any song on your album that you feel is particularly affected by where it was written? Is there a most Melbourne track or most London track on there?
Well Palmerston was written in Melbourne with my friend Corey Kikos of Sleep D. I had be staying in this huge place that used to be a brothel back in the day but now it had been turned into a share house with some studio spaces. My bedroom was right next to the Sleep D’s studio and one afternoon Corey & myself had a quick jam while Maryos (the other Sleep D) was doing something with his partner. The song took us about an hour to finish, it was so quick. We basically just played on an octatrack, a 303 and a yamaha dx100 and just did the whole thing in 2 takes. Kinda funny because it turned out to be my favourite track of the whole record, especially the last 3 mins. Even though it’s quite a dark and eery soundtrack-y kinda song, it always reminds me of being in their studio on a beautiful sunny 30+ degree day.
Who did you typically listen to growing up?
A lot of INXS, B52’s, New Order from my parents.
What are your top 3 favourite ambient records of all time?
Its always hard to pin down but these three are pretty damn good:
I’m not sure why, but apparently we need to evacuate your studio right now! You can only grab one piece of kit – what is it?
A photo of my dog Spud.
You’ve left the studio after a long days work, it’s pissed it with rain the whole way home and the boilers broken – what’s going on the turntable?
What would your dream collaboration be?
And finally, what’s up next for FIO?
Finishing up some FIO stuff… a dance focused 12” and hopefully some remixes, Lots of djing around the place. I’m looking forward to a bit of time spent with mother nature as well as some nice parties in my home country over the summer period too!
Veranda Culture is out October 23rd on Superconscious Records – pre-order the vinyl here.