- 20 May 19
Homegrown electronic indie-pop duo All Tvvins discuss the challenges of the streaming era, their biggest headline show yet, and working with James Vincent McMorrow on their new album, Just To Exist.
When All Tvvins went on stage at Bad Bob’s in Temple Bar for their first public performance back in 2013, it’s unlikely that they could have foreseen the epic ascension to stardom that lay ahead of them.
“It feels like forever ago,” Conor Adams, one half of the electro-pop duo, recalls. “But I can remember the nerves. We definitely knew it was the start of a new chapter for us.”
A string of hit singles established the group as a force to be reckoned with, and their Choice-nominated debut album, llVV, confirmed the hype – shooting to No.2 on the Irish charts, and effortlessly smashing through the 15 million stream landmark on Spotify. One of the album’s standout singles, ‘Darkest Ocean’, was featured on the massively popular FIFA 16 video game, alongside tracks from heavy-hitters like Kygo, Bastille, Aurora, Foals and Disclosure.
All Tvvins’ follow-up project, the highly anticipated Just To Exist, looks set to cement their status as one of the nation’s top acts. Packed with irresistible grooves and cinematic synth-pop melodies, the album sees the lads stretching comfortably into their sound with a newfound sense of confidence.
It Was A Pain In The Ass
They enlisted the assistance of a fellow Dubliner, James Vincent McMorrow, for the new project. The lauded singer-songwriter earned dual credits on Just To Exist as both producer and muse. “Working with him was a bit of a dream,” Lar Kaye beams. “The feature track we made with him, ‘Alone Together’, was such a big deal for us, but when James came back and told us that he was up for doing a full record, we were super happy.”
“The dude’s work ethic is insane,” Conor adds. “It’s upped our own productivity too. We haven’t really rested since making the album!”
They may be seriously hard workers, but All Tvvins are also well aware that crafting hit songs is just one part of the job in this rapidly changing industry. Recognising that streaming services have radically transformed the way we digest albums, the lads decided to release a song from Just To Exist every week before officially gathering them together on an album. “The way people take in music at the minute is so quick and throwaway,” Lar explains.
“I’m guilty of it myself,” Conor says. “When an album comes out I’ll just flick through songs. So we thought, if we throw out every song before the release, then each song gets its little day in the sun. A song can sound completely different on an album than it does as a single too, so it’s cool to be able to appreciate each song by itself.”
“It’s also proof that there are no filler tracks,” Lar laughs. “Proof for us anyway!”
Tracks from Just To Exist have landed upon a number of key Spotify and Apple Music playlists. However, there’s no denying that the streaming era has introduced a whole range of new responsibilities for bands – including the pressure to constantly maintain a presence on social media. “It’s just expected now,” Lar says. “If you’re in a band, you share everything you’re doing. It takes away from the mystery a bit. But, to be honest, I’m part of it – I’ll check out the bands I like, and if they post something, I’m going to watch it.”
“It’s always been there, in a way,” Conor adds. “The old way to get that extra information about a band was to buy their record and then pore over the details in the liner notes. The magazines always gave you some added details too. Social media is just another way to get that information – and arguably a more interesting way.
“Honestly, I used to think it was a pain in the ass, but I’ve learned to embrace it,” he laughs. “Even if I’m checking my Instagram every two seconds now.”
Last month, the band took to social media to pay their respects in the wake of Keith Flint’s death. “I remember seeing ‘Firestarter’ on Top Of The Pops 2,” Conor says. “This black-and-white video came on, and instantly I was obsessed with it. It was the first tape that I ever bought for myself, and I played that thing solidly. I wasn’t old enough to go to raves or anything, so I just used to dance to it in my gaff!”
It’s Going To Be Okay
All Tvvins’ new project captures the pair at a pivotal point in their lives and careers. The fresh mindset is reflected in the newfound maturity of their sound. “On llVV, the BPM was 120 and 140-plus,” Conor recalls. “We were a new band and we were just excited to be playing guitars. It was fast, jittery, excited music. The new record is way more considered. We slowed everything down, and it’s more melody-centred.
“We’re getting older,” he laughs. “We just wanted to chill out a bit.”
So can we expect a ballad album from All Tvvins next time round? “Maybe just an acoustic drone,” Conor deadpans. “Just me going ‘hmmm’.”
Their close friend, rising star Sorcha Richardson, is featured on the album, appearing on the gorgeous ‘No One Is Any Fun’. She’d joined the boys at their National Stadium gig last month. The show preceded a summer chock-full of European dates and festival appearances.
“It’s was our biggest headliner so far,” Lar says. “When we started the band, the goal was always to play the Olympia – now we’ve got to do that twice. We knew we had to try something different, and the National Stadium has so much history to it. Some major acts have played there.”
Sorcha and James aren’t the only people that the boys have worked with in recent years. They also let slip that they have an unreleased demo locked away in the attic featuring Cathy Davey. “I still love that tune,” Conor says. “It’s a fucking jam. It never made it onto the first album, and we were talking about putting it on the second – but we kind of forgot about it until now. We’ll have to get back onto Cathy.”
Although pop and protest music seem to be overlapping more than ever in these tumultuous times, All Tvvins are happy to let their music and politics live in separate worlds for now. “I don’t get too political, because the music is an escape for me,” Conor says. “I know there are some incredible bands that politicise their stuff – but that’s their bag. What our music says is, ‘Right, let’s get our heads away from all that for a few minutes, and let’s enter into this fairytale world’. Our uplifting songs usually start dark, and end with a feeling that it’s going to be okay. That’s our message.”
All Tvvins’ new album, Just To Exist, is out now.