Maribou State talk bringing global feelings into soulful house on new LP, Kingdoms In Colour
The duo return to centre stage with their stunning second full-length.
Header photo by Alexandra Waespi.
Maribou State feel like what nature would sound like if it made electronic tunes. They’ve gifted the world a look across cultures, experiences, and feelings through the lens of soul-filled house music. Based in London, this duo are definitely one of the most daring in electronic music at the moment. Featuring expressive vocalists and experimental global instruments, their output gives off a glowing warmth that will touch your heart and head straight on outwards. Along with of course, making you move.
Following teaser singles Feel Good feat. Khruangbin and Nervous Ticks, today they've dropped their long awaited second LP, Kingdoms In Colour, via Counter Records (grab it HERE). We were lucky enough to grab a snippet of their time for a seriously expansive chat. We found out more about the places, people, and experiences that inspired their latest work, the devastation of London’s nightlife, the revamp of their live show, and when they’ll next be swinging through the land down under.
Let’s start with the single featuring Khruangbin – how did Feel Good come about and what was the impetus for working with them?
We’d been huge fans of Khruangbin ever since we first saw them live at the Ace Hotel in London back in 2015, just before their first album came out. We asked them to support us a few months later at our headline Koko show and built a relationship from there. It ended up blooming through a whole bunch of different writing sessions; sending ideas back and forth whilst they were busy touring in the states. As well as having a few writing sessions in our studio with each of them individually when they got the time off in the UK. We never actually all got together in the same room, which is kind of odd but I think it resulted in the song capturing a lot of different moods and styles from that separation that otherwise may not have melded together as easily had we have all been together.
We must say - the album artwork for Kingdoms In Colour is just fantastic. Did you leave Alexander Brown to his own devices when interpreting the album visually, or give a general direction?
Thank you. We gave Alexander a very brief paragraph on how the album was made, what it symbolises to us, the places it was written in and people we’d worked with. He then developed his own concept off the back of that. He’d sent us an embryonic version of the flower as one of his first ideas, which we weren’t too sure on at the time. We then sent him down a long and arduous route following a different concept (which I’m sure he still hates us for!) but literally a couple of days before the album and artwork had to be handed in he sent us over the final album cover, apologising for trying to take a U-turn and bring us back to the initial idea, and we were instantly both so into it that the other idea was instantly discarded. Sorry for that long old journey Alex!
Kingdoms In Colour feels like a very global release, following on from the “insular” feel of your first album, how much has travel influenced album number 2?
I think travelling has definitely influenced us a lot over the years; the people you meet along the way, the different landscapes, the music you hear from city to city or club to club. It often forces you into situations where you aren’t completely comfortable or at ease, which in turn breeds new experiences and emotions. I think it’s given us a bigger palette to pull from sonically and visually and it has opened us up to different music from all around the world in the process.
It draws on sound recordings you guys did a lot while travelling as well, any particular Australian connections we should listen out for?
Yeah, there’s a few on the album. We spent a week in Bondi towards the end of the process and got some recordings of all the birds that would come onto the balcony of our apartment in the morning. You can hear it at the start of a track called Glasshouses.
Can you walk us through the live setup you’ll be taking across Europe?
The live setup has expanded quite a bit from the first record. We’ve brought in a new member, Jonjo Williams, who plays bass and keys, percussion and also triggers samples. We’ve still got our same drummer, Jonny Cade, who’s been with us since day one and Holly walker is still singing and touring with us which everyone’s really happy about. She always brings such great energy to the stage.
Having five of us in the band now means we’ve been able to take pretty much everything off the laptop in terms of backing track, which is super invigorating and way less stressful in some ways. It does mean though that we all have about four instruments each that we jump between throughout the set, so it’s maybe a little more stressful in that sense but we thrive on the challenge. The set up is pretty hybrid, with a bunch of synths and samplers shared between three of us, as well as a more conventional set up of drums, bass and guitar. The live show’s something we’re constantly looking to build on, so as our presence grows then so will the amount of members, kit, production etc. much to the dismay of our manager, Adam, who is in charge of the budgets!
You have been vocal about the closure of a lot of venues in London, something that’s been an issue in Australia over the past few years too, do you think people just don’t want to go out anymore? Or it’s more to do with legislation, gentrification…a combination of factors?
We noticed how much of an impact the licensing laws had on clubs in Sydney a couple of years back when we were out there. It's not quite been as extreme here in the UK in terms of closing times although there’s a law that’s potentially going to be passed in Hackney (our local borough) which will result in all clubs closing by midnight on weekends. Hackney has got one of the most thriving night life scenes across the whole of London so this would have a massive impact on the city’s club
culture, especially coming at the tail end of a whole bunch of club closures in the borough. Frustratingly I don’t think it has a whole lot to do with people not having the desire to go out but I think it all falls firmly at the foot of redevelopment and appeasing a handful of local residents. I’m sure there’s a multitude of other reasons but it’s something incredibly frustrating for the majority that do want to enjoy the venues and keep the city alive at night.
And what do you feel like are some solutions?
I think the main way of avoiding this is by making as many people aware as possible, lobbying together and signing petitions so that the local councils aren’t just left to their own agenda. The reopening of Fabric is a prime example of how this works through the #savefabric campaign.
Any chance we’ll see you down in Australia before the year’s out?
As much as we’d love to head back to Australia I don’t think its going to be until next year. Hopefully by then it will be with the live band!
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