Bondax is a collaboration between Adam Kaye and George Townsend. Friends long before they were bandmates, the lads met at secondary school in the fairly rural English town of Lancaster. Bonding over music, the two would discover that they made a formidable duo, with Townsend’s production skills matched by Kaye’s impressive multi-instrumental work. Finishing their last year at school in 2012 as some early singles caught fire in the blogsphere, the two fully committed to the project, with Townsend even skipping his final exams to focus on music. The following years have seen a steady stream of excellent singles, as well as several worldwide tours.
Bondax’s easiest comparison, in terms of a youthful British duo finding newfound success with garage house, would be Disclosure. However, while the Lawrence brothers craft poppy earworms, Kaye and Townsend aim for a more soulful sound. Melodic and laid back, the two give their lush synths and playful key work plenty of room to breath, each meticulously placed sonic element getting its chance to shine. The lads also have a knack for finding great singers, with almost every original song featuring an excellent, R&B-tinged vocal performance that often dazzles but never overshadows the rest of the track. With an oeuvre as well-suited to a romantic summer evening as a late night dancefloor, they are a must-listen for house heads as well as an easy recommendation for those just dipping their toes into dance music.
It’s been a while since your last visit to Indonesia. How long has it been exactly?
Bondax : We were here in 2014 for an event, so it has been four years.
You guys were still in secondary school when Bondax started picking up steam. How was the experience of coming up in the global electronic scene while still finishing your studies?
Adam Kaye (A): It was pretty surreal to be honest, man! We never expected it to happen, so it was a lovely surprise. We didn’t really understand what was happening; didn’t accept it straight away. Well, I didn’t anyway! It sort of hit me all at once later on.
You and George had been friends for years before Bondax. When you started playing and producing together were you aiming for this kind of soulful dance sound?
A: Not really, no. When we first started making music we were making heavier stuff. We were listening to a lot of Ed Banger [Justice’s label] vibes, French electronic music that’s quite heavy and quite intense like DJ Mehdi and stuff. Our tastes changed over time and that’s how we got to where we are.
How would you say your approach to songwriting and production changed since, say, “You’re So” and “Gold”?
A: It’s changed a lot because we’ve got the means now. George has learned keys in the meantime and I’ve gotten better at production; it used to just be that I’d play the instruments and George would produce it. It’s changed a lot in that we both cross over a bit more nowadays. Also now we have the equipment to record a lot more real instruments and experiment with a lot more different sounds. Earlier on we were just bound to the laptop! All we had was a copy of Logic. Now we have a full studio so we can record guitars and bass and we have actual synths. You can find much more fun ways of making music when you’re not just confined to a computer.
What do you look for in a vocalist?
A: The main thing that we look for is character. There are a lot of people who can sing really well, and it’s like “great man, you’ve got an amazing voice”. A lot of people sound the same though, and when you find that special someone that has a certain quality to their voice you have to go with it. You can find it with some singers, where one might be a lot better technically- might hit the notes better- but when it comes down to the final recording, if someone sounds more interesting on it then we’ll always go for that one over the technically better one. You can always just find the right takes, you know?
If you could score a feature from anyone, who would you like to work with?
A: I mean, we always say D’Angelo but I’m not gonna say that this time because I’ve said it so many times! I personally (and I know George loves him as well) would want Kevin Parker from Tame Impala. He’s got a really interesting voice and i think he’d add a lot more than just his vocals, because he can do anything!
I’m sure you’ve gotten this comparison in the past, but Disclosure really blew up as you guys were starting to come up. Did seeing that kind of similarly garagey music make such an impact worldwide have an impact of how you foresaw your own growth or planned out releases?
A: It was very strange when they got so big. We always expected them to get big, since they made really interesting and accessible music, but it was weird for us. We were friends with them from the start and when we were first mates they were supporting SBTRKT and played in Lancaster, the tiny town where we’re from. They were traveling around on trains, carrying their keyboards and stuff around with them. That was when we first properly hung out, at KFC in their travel lodge. It’s changed a lot since then! You see everyone about at festivals and stuff, but when you see those guys it’s amazing – they have so much crazy production! It’s mad to see the change.
How that relates to us? I think it gave us hope that our music could travel further than we’d ever thought. It was also good for us because it made us think “that’s their thing, we need to do our own thing.” It shaped how we made music and how we tried to strive for our own sound; sticking to different BPMs and using different synths. All that jazz. It was good for making us individual.
So, we’d like to ask you about your latest single “Neo-Seoul”. It was released back in February and it got a pretty soulful vibe in it. Who’s your biggest influence or muse on composing that single?
George Townsend (G): Good question, actually it was a sample from an African record. We went out to Africa last year, not for music officially, we weren’t playing there. We spent a little bit of a time. So I suppose there was a level of influence from there in music and the experience of getting away from our culture completely.
A: A lot of percussion is actually quite African. But it’s also inspired by soul itself. We’ve been to that place (re: Africa) for quite a few times since we do music. So yeah, it’s kind of an homage to that place.
Is there any sampling in the song?
G : Yes, but I can’t legally tell you what it is, hahaha…
A : Yeah we can’t tell you. There’s some sample, go find it *chuckles*
Well, okay we won’t dissect any further into that haha… Moving on, you guys were highly popular after releasing “All I See” and “Giving It All”, is there any burden afterwards for your next endeavor? Do you set a specific level of success that is similar to those records?
G : We could do that (re: reach the same level of success) on ourselves. But the album we’ve made, we haven’t really. We’ve made it without worrying about that (re: commercial success). We haven’t really made any singles or such, it’s more of a concept or ideas.
Because it has taken so long (re: since their last album), I think the pressure to ‘you have to put out a song now and it has got to be massive’ kind of dissipate a bit. So, we kinda had a chance a bit to put our heads together and just make music that we really want to make and not think about the commercial success.
So can you spill any details about upcoming album?
G : Yeah, the concept behind the album is essentially a day. It goes like… it is structured in a chronological order, from waking up to the birth of the next day. Um, it sort of travels from quite chill music, to dancey-er music. Then into the night time, then went into sort of dreamy state.
Music wise, is it going to sound like “Bondax and Friends” or any album you’ve made previously?
A : It’s quite different actually I’d say. It’s not like we’ve completely left our sound behind, but we both wanted to mature the sound. Since we both got a broader music taste, we wanted to get the influences and apply the influences to the music. There’s quite a different style in it so hopefully the idea is to have the Bondax sound but trying to incorporate bossanova, hip hop, disco or something else as the base.
Since you’ve been together for quite some time, are you thinking about branching out into solo projects?
G : Not really. I think the move outside what we do now would be producing for another people. Then I might do more beats and stuff, and maybe Adam might do more of the live stuff. We’ll probably still work together for now.
We miss your remixes though, would we see another tunes coming out in near future?
A : Yeah, there’s already remix for Milky Chance that have come out last year. There is also one for The Avalanches that has come out recently, so you could check them out.