Portasound on the future

An interview for Kruger Magazine

In the future everyone will receive piggy-backs from midgets, drink yoghurt and live on a hill in south west London. Oh, and Portasound will be massive...

The Future Is Unwritten, according to Julien Temple's documentary about Joe Strummer. Not strictly true, that. In fact it's inked here in these very pages. Look! Plus south London micropop cadets Portasound have their own scripted prophecies.

"We travel into the future all the time," says chief bloke James casually. "I've just been there actually. How was it? Pretty good but we spent most of our time in traffic which is a shame because everything looked pretty cool." More on that to come but, first, introductions.

They are James Dow, Michael Dow and Luke ("basically a Dow"). All swap between synths, guitar, bass, laptop and whistling. By day, two of them are landscape gardeners, one is a designer, they have a song called The Terpischore Of Vegedward Sentengo (their current single in fact) about "a Greek dance revived by the Victorians". Their thoughts may be in the future but their beginnings came in the past: "One day we were looking for something to do and we went into the countryside to a friend's old shack," says James. "We went for the weekend with a keyboard and a little bit of acid and decided on those unsteady foundations that we should do this."

The stimulating keyboard in question? A Yamaha Portasound.

"It has this button on it that’s an auto-bass chord," James delights. "Because me and Luke were sitting in a field quite smashed, it provided a lot of entertainment for very little interaction - I like to think that’s what we do now."

Some time on, they're now making music which sounds like 2010. A chrome plated combo of Metronomy (a huge influence of theirs) and choppy copper synths of Late Of The Pier. Live they stand onstage like three pillars of light setting effects off like fire crackers.

Their frequent voyages to the distant future reveal a disturbing picture. Something along the lines of Franz Kafka simultaneously directing The Fifth Element, Arachnophobia and Honey, I Shrunk The Kids whilst on quality Calpol.

"I'd like to bring back a giant intelligent insect because I reckon humans will die out soon and it'll be the turn of the insects to go grow large and clever," begins James. "Then they'll develop their own music."

Indeed, if grasshoppers playing oboes aren't scary enough, both the Dow brothers know every single word in the first Alien film. And of course there's global warming to contend with.

"A lot of our future-gazing comes in warnings to the general public which can be found at different speeds within our music," says James. "Like subliminal messages."

We won't lie, things beyond tomorrow aren't looking cheery.

"We're predicting that in a hundred years there will only be a million people left," says Michael. "But they'll be well into Portasound."

"They'll all live on a hill because Europe is going to flood," explains Luke.

Of course, by this point - we're thinking somewhere around June 2009 - we'll all look like spacemen and eat crisps through our nose (s'evolution folks).

"We'll be split into two forms of people," continues James adopting an indie Mystic Meg voice. "You'll have tiny adult babies with trumpets and really tall skinny model-types." Yes, tell us more.

"And, the weird babies will do all the work. All the tall people will just walk around sipping yoghurt. It's a fearful new world.

"It'll probably go back to when people were carried around by little midgets. Hover boards for kids and wooden casks for the adults."

Not only is this future potentially very ugly, full of midgets and string beans copulating on a stranded knoll to preserve the very race itself, but they drink Petite Filous. Bring back the safety of 1997!

But on a more sensible note, the next twelve months is shaping up rather nicely for the three south Londoners.

"We didn’t start this thing to make any money or be famous or anything," cooly states James. "It's a labour of love and fun."

And the midgets with brass? They're just a bonus.

Words by Greg Cochrane

Photo by Lucy Johnston


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