Updated: May 23, 2020
When entering the world of dance music, at any point in your life, you never truly leave. Hearing certain songs transports you straight back to where you experienced that euphoric feeling of beats coursing through your veins and lasers weaving through the air, all in it together. How electronic collective Dagga Domes get it remarkably right is creating atmospheric and effortlessly cool tracks that can be devoured at a gig, nightclub, or humble kitchen party. April 20th brings the release of their second EP Chroma the Great. Core members Jeremy Moors and Kit Monteith have a wealth of rich history between them with Jeremy once heading a cult French record label and Kit a touring member for musical heavyweights Foals. We caught up with the long-time friends where they took us back to the beginning.
Calais born Jeremy and Oxford resident Kit met in the early 2000s, where the Math & Post Rock scene was thriving. They experimented in various bands: "A local hero called Ady was promoting gigs, mainly math rock/post rock type of acts under the name vacuous pop. Any good Oxford bands had to play his nights." It was here they witnessed incredible bands like Hela, Oxes, and Hood amongst others, and the highly influential local band Youthmovie Soundtrack Strategies (later known as Youthmovies): “Oxford is also a very small place so when the scene started to build it felt like something special was happening: there was lots of freedom and experimentation, our whole understanding of and outlook on music is based on that time.”
Heading back to France, Jeremy soaked up the uber-cool Paris music scene whilst Kit played his part in freak folk outfit Jonquil, before founding the art pop band Trophy Wife. Lessons aplenty were derived from this part of Kit’s story: “One was how to write and structure tighter more pop-based songs, and Dagga Domes is in many ways a reaction against that. You’ve got to learn the rules to know how best to break them. Essentially our time on previous projects has taught us the sides of making music that we love and the sides we'd rather do without. We've made Dagga Domes the distillation of what we love about making music together.”
On Jeremy’s return, the pals formed PADDOX, with Trenton Smith, and produced abstract soundscapes paired with ambient audio art. Aphrodisiaque was released in 2014, where seeing this live was entirely immersive and artistic, the room electric with creativity. “We actually consider PADDOX as a project under Dagga Domes Collective; maybe we'll bring it back one day. The idea was to experiment with how to push the performance of ambient music in a live context and mix it with visual art. It was definitely a spiritual experience and a huge part of who we are currently. We were using the same type of gear and looking for accidents and making connections. Paddox is just a part of our collective personality.”
Waves of Inspiration washed over the boys on many levels; a transition period followed: “Live shows pushed us to craft our tracks with a pulsing factor. Tracks then change, evolve, and end up being new morphed monsters. We have a vision of playing shows where you start with hours of ambience and gradually morph into techno then back to ambience. I think that was our starting point to experiment with what’s now become Dagga Domes.”
Following first release Optimistic Visions Of the Future, new EP Chroma the Great was co-written with friends, including Larry D and Kenny Redz, who happily got stuck in after coming to hang in the studio. Each of the four songs carries an individual creative process: “We haven’t got any hard and fast methods; often gear influences us a lot though. We get a new synth or dig out an old drum machine that we haven’t used for a while, and when we’re getting familiar with that gear, we often create a track.”
Claret starts with interstellar sounds, transforming into a wondrous darker tune with dramatic bass: “Claret's bass is a favourite of ours. How the vocal effects on Rose happened is still a mystery, and that’s something else we love. The live drums at the end of Rose are also a great moment for us. Kit read that Prince wouldn't let a violinist he was working with hear the track she was meant to be playing on or even do more than one take. We did the same thing with the drummer that we used: he'd never heard the track before he was playing to it, and we wouldn't let him do a second take.”
Speaking of the drums, the beat for Rose is reminiscent of a heartbeat, much like the pulse beating through the striking score of Dunkirk. This was intentionally done: “It needed an organic feeling, almost as if you listening to the world from a womb. Intentional though is a big word for us as we often say the track doesn’t care, it doesn’t care what you want, what you’d like, our job is to discover what the track needs to express itself, but it’s out there, floating around us. The track doesn’t care if you’re tired, if you’d like to do a huge techno tune or if you want to make it sound organic or not. We’re following what the track needs, always.”
Ochre has punchy seriousness to it, and instrumental Byzantine’s journey lasts over eight minutes, both are higher in energy with some 90s club vibes thrown in for good measure. You can almost see Ibiza on the horizon, margarita in hand, sun on your face, and this is somewhere where the Domes can blissfully envisage too: “We can see it being played at 5 am on the beach just beforehand going down. Maybe a more industrial background too. Warehouse shows in Liverpool, or Kiev or wherever really.”
Kit’s soothing and passionate voice is a perfect match for the techno-infused songs, which are ever so tuneful and cinematic. Like many artistic folk, it's in their bones not to stop and are sharing ideas at the moment, with a more industrial edge being added to their pallet. Now, maybe more than ever, quality music is essential to our being, creating our little moments of distraction. Chroma the Great takes you there, just while we pause the hustle and bustle of our old life. As expressed earlier, this chameleon creation, when the time is right, will move seamlessly from our little nests to live venues to which Dagga Domes are ready and eager to play.
Article by Beverley Knight