Five Minutes with...Utah Saints

Utah Saints
Utah Saints

BIG INTERVIEW: Embrace frontman Danny McNamara

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When you’ve had a musical career that’s spanned two decades of technological advances, converting vinyl to MP3 is the least of your worries, particularly when your debut single was recorded onto floppy disks that have since become corrupted.

It’s a fate recently befallen by Utah Saints who, upon realising it would probably be a good idea to archive their early tracks, found that some of the originals, including their debut single, What Can You Do For Me, were now irretrievable.

Happily, the corrupted floppies led to a new recording session of the original version, and then a 2011 update.

In 1991, the single reached No.10 in the UK singles chart and paved the way for the first true stadium house band to sell over two million records, record with the likes of REM’s Michael Stipe, and perform with U2.

In 2008, they had the most played song on Radio 1 with the rerelease of Something Good. Now Tim Garbutt and Jez Willis are busy preparing new releases for their Sugarbeat label, running their Sugarbeat club night (featuring guests like Roy Orbison) and playing several shows a week.

Ahead of their visit to Waster tonight, we caught up with Tim to find out more.

Whose music are you into at the moment?

In the dance world, people like Skrillex, Madeon, Zedd and Knife Party are making great music. We like a lot of drum ‘n’ bass. We are big fans of Tantrum Desire, Drumsound and Bassline Smith, Matrix and Futurebound.

Also an artist called Mooqee is making some great music at the moment and is one to watch out for.

We spend the first few hours of every day that we are writing in the studio just listening to other people’s music on blogs and listen back to radio shows etc, so we keep up on what is going on.

It’s a great time to be making music as the genre barriers have fallen down and you can discover so much new and exciting stuff on the internet.

What’s the biggest change in your sound from the 1990s to now?

We still make records the same way as we did back in the ’90s, but the difference is the equipment that we use to do this.

The standard out there right now with dance music is very high, so you do need to be on top of your game.

At the end of the day though, it still comes down to having a good idea.

What would be your dream song to sample?

It’s a hard one because if you sampled your dream song and then used it in your own song, the chances are it would probably never sound as good as your dream song, so we tend not to do that. We have always just seen samples as an instrument really, so our philosophy has always been to take a small part of a track and create something new rather than take the essence of someone else’s track.

What do you try to achieve with your DJ sets?

We always try to keep a really high energy level in our sets, cut quite fast between tracks, and vary the style.

People’s attention span seems to be short these days and they want things to be constantly happening. Build-ups are shorter and so are breakdowns.

The most important thing is to entertain people, so we try to play a lot of things that people may know, but we like to twist it up a lot and drop a capellas. We use quite a lot of effects and tricks in there. We both DJ at the same time, as well.

What song always gets you on the dancefloor?

Any good drum ‘n’ bass. It’s easier to dance to if you can’t dance, as you can dance half time to it!

And what song would send you running from the dancefloor?

Good question. I guess neither of us are big r ‘n’ b fans, so that would easily get us off the floor. We are not great dancers anyway, so the chances of us being on the dancefloor ever are quite slim... We know our place is in the DJ booth.

If you changed your career, what would you do?

Probably open a bar, club or restaurant. We have spent most of our lives in them around the world, so we have good ideas about what works and what doesn’t!

Entry to see Utah Saints at Waster at Liquid & Envy tonight, costs £4 on the door or £3.25 in advance from The night runs from 10pm to 3am and also features Southsea Mafia DJs Will Chump, Philip Harvey and Tommy Leigh.