Interview: Age of Consent

Age of Consent - Photo courtesy of Age of Consent

Age of Consent – Photo courtesy of Age of Consent

The first thing to come to the minds of most people when hearing the phrase “age of consent” is often the song of the same name by New Order, but Joe Reeves and Darren Cullen are in the process of giving it a new spin.

The two, who make up relatively newly-formed Age of Consent, play a version of electronic dance music considered to fall under the gothic-pop label. But while they are just beginning to make a name for themselves, others may already know them from their previous project, Glasgow-based SHITDISCO, a dance-punk band, which amicably called it quits in 2009.

After the break-up of SHITDISCO, Reeves and Cullen both knew somewhere inside themselves that they still wanted to work together in a musical capacity, as they had known one another for more than a decade, both playing music and attending art school together. However, it took some time for them to get to a place where they could recognize this, due to everything else standing in the way.

“The idea of who we’re going to work with is pretty obvious, but like, I think we didn’t know,” Reeves said. “When we left SHITDISCO, it was like, all we wanted to do was have a bit of a break, like have a bit of a time off making music for awhile.”

Once this new collaboration began, sometime in the tail-end of 2010, the aim of the music underwent an interesting development

“In the beginning…all I wanted to do was the opposite of SHITDISCO,” Reeves explained. “And then after awhile, I realized actually what we do in SHITDISCO is what I like doing as a musician.”

As for Cullen, he knew that he always wanted to make dance music in some kind of capacity. However, there was a fine line dividing what they did in SHITDISCO versus what they wanted to do in Age of Consent, and it was important that the two better define those boundaries.

The challenge, then, has not been to recreate the sound of SHITDISCO, nor has it been to do something entirely different, but rather to compile the elements of the former project that they loved and place those into Age of Consent, mixing them alongside with new ideas.

Yet just like most things in life, any conventions or notions the two had going into it were almost immediately challenged.

“You start doing it and it changes, you know, just like within a day of being in the studio,” Cullen said, speaking to the ever-developing aspect of music and the flexibility it requires of the two. “And then when we started playing live, then that changed it again and so it’s like, every step we end up kind of reevaluating it, so there’s no, like, any kind of grand plans going out the window.”

Earlier this year, in January, the two played their first show in Berlin, a handful of months after the release of their first single, “The Beach.” Yet although the song came out in September 2011, the seeds of it were first planted years prior, when the two were jamming at a SHITDISCO band practice.

“I remember us two were playing it together while the other two guys, were like, having a joint somewhere…and it was like this one idea we had [that] didn’t really get developed,” Reeves shared.

And when the two began to do music together again, this incomplete idea seemed as good a starting point as ever, particularly because Reeves marks it as the transition point, or “the thing that happened between the two bands.”

“It was quite exciting because it was different aesthetics than the last band, like really driven by melody and not by the tempo of the song,” he said.

Yesterday, the Age of Consent fellows released their second single, “Heartbreak.” The single includes the song, as well as five unique remixes of it, and a cover of a song by Suicide.

With only two singles out, it’s difficult to say the direction of Age of Consent; perhaps only Reeves and Cullen themselves know. One thing is certain: the self-described sound is definitely more “guitar-crazy and danceable.”

And as for goals in 2012, the band hopes to have more singles ready in the remaining half of the year.

“We want to try and release as much as we can this year, because last year there [were] a lot of near misses in releasing things,” Cullen explained.

In the meantime, the two are also interested in remixing songs by other bands, a fact that is not surprising, considering their past history of remixes in SHITDISCO. They first became involved in remixing by accident, often when touring with other bands, who often wanted SHITDISCO to remix their songs, and vice versa.

Reeves and Cullen admit there is a certain kind of risk in this, and share that they can be tentative about taking something personal and allowing someone else, whether a close friend, acquaintance or total stranger, to tamper with it and reinterpret it. But there is an upside to it as well.

“They colour it all different colours and turn it inside-out,” Reeves said. “It’s really interesting to see someone chop it up and then present it…that’s like the whole risk of any creative process anyways.”

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