If you’re a bit of a science buff then you may by now know Ursa Minor as that little dipper shaped constellation in the northern sky. But for those not that way inclined, this may be your first introduction to Ursa Minor, the majestic four-piece from London. Despite only forming just over a year ago, their alternative-pop dance and prolific use of vintage synths already has us all stirred up with giddy excitement so we caught up with front woman Gabby to find out more.
Planet Notion: What special something do you add to the growing population of electronic music?
Gabby Cooke: Drama – in the old-school Shakespearian sense with highs and lows, a bit of comedy and a fair amount of tragedy. I find that some electronic artists tend to take themselves too seriously but our strain of ‘electronic music’ is about having fun. Don’t get me wrong, some of my most painful moments have been immortalised in our music, but to be able to take personal experiences, good and bad, and the result be wildness and dancing, is something special. Music is beautiful because what has happened to me has probably happened to everyone in the whole room, meaning something completely different and exactly the same all at once. But fuck it, that’s life and the only thing we can do now is have a good time.
PN: Do you record in digital, analogue, or both?
GC: We record analogue instruments digitally. My co-writer Alex is a complete synth geek and one of the conditions of us working together was using real analogue sounds. At first I didn’t really see what the big deal was but you wouldn’t believe the love people have for our set-up. We’ve been described as ‘live House’ because the synths we rock all feature in classic 80s and 90s house tracks. We’ve got a Juno 106, Mini-Moogs, Novation and Jomox etc. I turned into a synth-lover after watching a documentary on Bob Moog, where he described the notes that the Moog produced as the sound of ‘electricity’ – that made me love him a bit.
PN: Are traditional instruments becoming redundant?
GC: I hope not. I’m not anti solely computerised music but there is a purity and satisfaction to using real instruments that you just can’t get from production software. It’s all relative at the end of the day though. What we call ‘traditional’ or ‘real’ instruments, my parents’ generation view as new age technology. We might not be listening to the Harpsichord anymore but the piano certainly isn’t dead (see Adele) so I don’t fear for humanity quite yet.
PN: How do your recordings translate into a live setting?
GC: First and foremost we’re a live act trying to capture the essence of our sound on recording. We’re still trying to get that right to be totally honest. I’d like to think we’re on our way to achieving that since our first single is out at the beginning of next month, but it hasn’t been easy. I’ve suffered from red-light fever up until recently so I always think we sound better live.
PN: When making music, what are the main things that inspire you?
GC: When the ups and downs of life go in, songs come out.
PN: What do you think your typical listener looks like?
GC: They could be anyone, I have no idea. We certainly haven’t set out to hit one particular ‘type’ of listener but there are elements of dance, pop, electronica in us so I guess if you like them you will like us.
PN: What is your ultimate aim when making music?
GC: To fulfil my mother’s hopes and expectations that I might one day be as fabulous as Liza Minnelli.
PN: What’s the last thing you purchased?
GC: A Roland Juno 106
PN: What are your goals for 2012?
GC: To keep writing and releasing and to spread love throughout the land.
- Bronya Francis
Oh, and make sure you keep your eyes peeled on Monday for the exclusive premiere of the band’s crispy new video right here at Planet Notion – wowzas.