Around this time last year, the Ting Tings were tucked away in their studio in Berlin, writing and recording their follow-up to their debut album, We Started Nothing. Now the Grammy nominated, indie electro-rock-pop duo from Manchester, comprised of Katie White and Jules De Martino, are ready to release their sophomore LP (which is not called Kunst, by the way — but more on that later). And they’ve established their own way of getting attention.
“We’re not the loudest band in the room… you know, whip cream guns strapped to my tits, like how pop people are,” Katie told us during our exclusive sit-down with the band. “We’re quiet in the little details, which I think is our way of being ballsy.”
We would certainly describe the British duo as having some serious guts. Instead of sticking strictly to the brassy dance-pop that turned “That’s Not My Name” and “Shut Up And Let Me Go” into radio smashes, the band stretched for eclecticism this time around. They drew inspiration from TLC to Fleetwood Mac to cheesy movie themes from the 80s to create what they call their “playlist album”. Head below for details on the Ting Tings’ latest, and why living in Berlin in the wintertime might not have been such a great idea in retrospect.
During our hour-long chat with the band at Idolator HQ, Katie and Jules previewed a few of their new tracks for us, including “Day To Day”, which sounds like it could have made the cut of a TLC album (“I’ve always been obsessed with TLC!” exclaimed Katie). What will almost definitely become a single is the rousing indie-rock number with a marching band beat called “Guggenheim”, which may inspire a field trip to New York to visit the museum of the same name. “Katie wants to play golf inside the Guggenheim,” says Jules, regarding their plans for the track’s music video.
The lead single off the Ting Tings’ new LP is, of course, “Hands” — here’s a lovely acoustic version they did for BBC Switch:
On why they didn’t want to record another album in the UK:
Katie: We didn’t want to go back to Manchester… we didn’t want to recreate what we had done the last time. [In Manchester] we were in this art community where we’d throw parties, and it felt really strange to come back two years later and go, let’s throw parties and pretend its really cool! We didn’t want to do it again.
Jules: We wanted to go to Berlin to have complete, crazy freedom.
On living in Berlin:
Katie: What we didn’t anticipate is that we’d be arriving there in winter, which was so f***ing depressing and it was awful and we hated it, didn’t we?
Jules: It was minus 27 degrees. There was snow just up to your ass! People skiing down the streets to take their children to school! We don’t know what we’ve done.
Katie: We come from Manchester where it rains and it’s depressing. We came from nothing, we work really hard for two years to the point where we have to go to hospital for exhaustion, stopped — and went somewhere even more depressing than where we came from!
On making their album into a playlist format:
Jules: It kind of became kind of a concept… if we made an electro kind of song, right, we don’t want to make another electro song now, lets make a moody 60s song.
Katie: We get bored easy.
Jules: If I pulled out a Kings of Leon track and I had it as number one [on a playlist], I might go something like Fleetwood Mac for number two. But certainly by three that’s f***ing it, I don’t want anything rock on number three. As I’m walking down the street, I want something else to hit me, like “Holiday” by Madonna… the surprise is there. And that’s kind of how we plotted this album.
On signing to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation management, and not collaborating with Jay (or any other acts, for that matter):
Katie: We met [Jay-Z], he’s lovely. But we wanted to keep our album ours. It’s probably what makes us us… we like pop songs and f***ing them up a bit. If we were to go with any producer, it would have such a big impact on our identity of the band.
On why they’re not worried about experimenting with their sound:
Katie: If we were a conventional five piece rock band, I think then you’d have problems. We can afford to experiment with our sound. We’re not a normal five piece cock rock band.
On loving — and playing — all types of music:
Jules: When we started to DJ, in Manchester there’s a real underground scene of what you should play, and what you shouldn’t. And we were playing Prince, “Ghostbusters”… I start DJing some beats [during our set], and I break it all down… and let off “Ghostbusters” as loud as you like and [the audience goes] f***ing nuts! We guarantee, we play in front of 50, 000 people, at LEAST 50% of that audience would never admit to having “Ghostbusters” on their iPod. And yet there they are, [chanting] “Ghostbusters”! We didn’t want to deny anything on this record.
Katie: We’re not elitist. We’re not that cool.
On their album title — which is definitely not named Kunst (that was just a working title):
Jules: “Kunst” in German means “art”. They went f***ing bananas! ‘You cannot call your album Kunst!’ And we went, well, it means art! It worried us, because we didn’t take it as a joke…. It backfired for us. It leaked and it became a joke.
Katie: We didn’t mean it to be controversial for controversy’s sake.
On the real title of their sophomore album:
Jules: It’s called… Cocks.
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Head to the Ting Tings’ official website for more info on their upcoming album, whatever it turns out to be called. We’re pretty sure Cocks is just another working title, too… we hope.