Tinlicker, electronics that plays with pop and rock

Tinlicker, electronics that plays with pop and rock

“Tinlicker means not taking everything for granted: you have to scrape the bottom and appreciate what you have, because nothing lasts forever”: the Dutch electronic duo, Micha Heyboer and Jordi van Achthoven, have just released “Cold enough for snow” – first album for PIAS, historical name of the independent scene.

“It hasn’t changed our approach to making music much, we still do what we feel like doing, but it has opened doors to artists we never dreamed of working with.” And in fact the new album, the third of a 12-year career, features names such as Tom Smith (Editors), Brian Molko (Placebo), Boxer Rebellion frontman Nathan Nicholson, Circa Waves and Julia Church. A nice parterre for the duo, who in the past made themselves known for a more classically electronic approach and now flirt more decidedly with pop and rock, thanks to the presence of these names.

Between electronics and song form

The album covers different shades of electronic music, from a more song and EDM oriented approach to a more experimental sound: a slightly more pop version of Moderat, so to speak. “We try to make the music we like without limiting ourselves to genres. We try to avoid the question ‘can this be done in the scene we operate in?’. The process is always different. Tracks sometimes start with a chord progression, sometimes they start trying to create an original rhythm, but ultimately the music has to become something organic. This is why our spectrum is quite broad,” the two explain. Who say they don’t have precise references, but also that they listen to very little dance music (“Probably to always have a blank canvas”) – even if in songs like “Blowfish” the influence of house and EDM can still be heard.

Collaborations with the rock world

But the peculiarity of “Cold enough for snow” (a title that “represents a moment in time in which things could transform into a parallel universe, if it started to snow”) is the attention to the song form, with the presence of voices important: “We know how to make music, but we don’t know how to sing and write lyrics”, they explain.

“With most songs, we send our collaborators an instrumental demo version of the song, on which they write and record the lyrics and vocals and send us the idea back, and we proceed from there with updates”: “This life”, with Tom Smith d, and “Nowhere to go” with Brian Molko, thus they become two instant classics: the first is more reminiscent of the Editors (who flirted with electronics for a long time) while the second uses a crescendo with drops more typical of EDM, with the very recognizable voice of Placebo.
Tinlicker cite the music of the 90s and early noughties as the origin of this process: “A band like Radiohead, with ‘Kid A’, definitively opened the doors to the contamination between rock and electronics, but even before that the Prodigy and the Chemical Brothers, who played all the main festival stages and had great music videos on MTV. Now maybe everything is on a different scale, but the seeds of mainstream success in electronic music were planted before artists like Fred Again were born.”

How do you make music like this live? Tinlicker – explain the complexity of their set-up live, with Ableton live, several synthesizers and two drum machines, midi controllers, with the sounds being produced and modified in real time, with some visuals and lights. But they don’t go too far on the classic electronic dichotomy between DJ sets (easier to carry around) and performances live electronics that they are touring now – they have just started a European tour which will pass through Milan next week -: “Live is more rewarding: the whole production and set-up process requires a lot of energy, something can always go wrong. So when everything is fine, it’s a good feeling. At the same time, being a DJ gives you a lot of freedom, you need a balance between both things.”