Paul Humphries and Gregor Reid
As 2020 held the world to ransom, band night for Superhuman lifelong friends Paul Humphreys and Gregor Reid evolved into time well spent. With a June release of their EP on CD and download, ‘The Effects of Noise on Man’ it’s the beginning of the road for the duo, signing with Last Night from Glasgow (LNFG). And the first steps look bright. “LNFG have a progressive model that supports artists in a way that doesn’t leave them trying to repay a huge debt to the label,” Gregor tells me.
It wasn’t the only reason. Seen as LNFG’s leftfield little brother, Komponist is home to some experimental signings, the focus being on instrumental music. “We had created this body of work and I had always naively assumed we would somehow get it released, otherwise what’s the point. I played our tracks to a friend whose opinion I valued, Gregor adds. “He suggested a few labels that would be a good fit musically, one label stuck out.”
After sending the tracks with a brief biog. to label boss Ian Smith, Gregor recalls that, “he got back in touch almost immediately and we chatted about the various ways he thought the label could support Superhuman.” With the huge delay in vinyl production at the moment affecting the whole industry it was decided that they would put out an EP, “to get things rolling, while Paul and I continued writing a batch of new material for a vinyl release in 2022.”
What was the spark that brought the Superhuman project together?
GR: I guess friendship and a shared love of music. Paul and I have been friends since we could walk and grew up together with very similar tastes musically – we were also influenced by the same pop culture touchstones, from Star Wars to Spaghetti Westerns. I’ve been involved in music from a young age, playing piano and drums as a kid and had a bit of a break from making music but was searching for a way back, so I suggested to Paul that we start a project that could grow to become a band.
PH: Yeah, as Gregor said friendship and music is the main driving force. As a kid I always loved music and like most kids of a certain vintage, I wanted to be Adam Ant. At high school it was art and design that drove me creatively; violins and recorders just didn’t interest me. It’s mad when I think back now though and really wish I’d studied music too. Having fallen in love with the sound of analogue synths in my youth and being heavily into dance culture I always wanted to make electronic music but with no training or knowledge, it always seemed something I’d probably never get around to.
A sweeping melancholy and a disquieting undertone, particularly in tracks The Edge of Space and The Carousel create a world reminiscent of the tension held in the spaces of a David Lynch movie – where music invades the physical world with concept and holds its own force of narrative.
GR: While the music may have a dark edge, we do actually have a lot of fun making it and hitting things to see what sound they make is a part of that fun. We create instrumental music that in places is atmospheric but it’s also really important that there is a strong melodic core running through it. We both have a love of the use of Leitmotif in film music and that seeps into the DNA of what we do.
What are your hopes for the EP?
GR: We hope the EP sparks interest in what we do and serves as an introduction to our brand of music – mixing analogue synths and sequencers with live drums, guitars and found sounds.
PH: We’ve spent a long time crafting our sound and this release is just a taste of things to come – ultimately, we really hope people enjoy listening to it as much as we did making it. There’s a video to accompany Utopia or Oblivion which will be available on our YouTube channel and we’re also working on a stripped-down, live from the Living Room version of Armando’s Dream and other short-form content to tease and support the EPs release.
Listening to the record it’s complex and multi-layered – is this something that you could or would want to play live?
GR: It wasn’t really something we considered when we started out, we just wanted to make the best music we could with whatever resources we had. We try to avoid using anything we don’t physically have. Access to an endless list of plug-ins and soft synths slows down the work and with us can lead to option paralysis. When we’re recording, we love to pick up whatever is to hand, so while we use a lot of synths, we’re just as likely to pick up a thumb piano or a set of bongos.
More by luck than design, that early decision now means it’s possible to recreate the music live without relying heavily on computers and playout systems. We might not be able to recreate the record but I don’t think that’s the point. With the help of a couple of extra musicians we could put together a live version of our music which would hopefully still retain the essence of the record but incorporate the magic ingredient that makes live music a different experience.
PH: Playing live was never something I’d imagined doing, like ever. Initially band night was just a hobby, a good excuse to tweak knobs, make bleeps and bang some drums, not epic live shows worthy of Jean Michelle Jarre or Chemical Bros. I guess now that we’ve been signed to LNFG and with this release on their Komponist imprint we’ll focus on bringing to life the Superhuman moniker we’ve given ourselves, and if it means acquiring more synths then, I’m in.
Where can we listen or purchase a download?
The Effects of Noise on Man will be available on CD, Digital and on streaming platforms from 18.06.21 you can order it from Komponist now.