Drill Folly is the electronic project of Tantrums' digital mastermind Sarah Phelan. Taking a twisting path around around the spidery legs of IDM, Phelan's solo material is a far darker proposition than her band's indie rock output. Deep industrial percussion sits atop heavy sound art textures and a menacing sense of abstracted melody. It's like listening to what might be going through the head of one of the virtual reality junkies in Strange Days whose mind has been cooked by too much cerebral playback. One of the shining lights of the Melbourne electronic underground, Phelan has recently relocated to the UK to record with her mates in UNKLE and pursue her solo work.
Would you say you musical life has expanded since you went solo / escaped the confines of your long-term band project?
Sarah Phelan: It has expanded mentally but not physically- if that makes sense? I've got the direct line to my own creative ether and it's not distorted or corrupted by anything or anyone else. In that sense I feel like I've expanded mentally as an artist, in that I know myself better and what is uniquely me that has to come out. I do miss the special kind of friendship that develops when you make music with someone though. I suppose it's like being in a relationship. You're different when you're single - it has its pros and cons.
You've been living in the UK for the last while, how has that scene influenced your sound? It's a pretty dark and eerie place and your music has those elements too.
(laughs) Yeah. England is my spiritual home. I've always been attracted to British culture and life kind of naturally led me here. It was like finding the missing piece of the puzzle, moving here. I share a flat with Barry who used to be in Dead Fader when they were a duo. Now there's noise jams in the lounge room on a Friday night with a bunch of his mates.
You're in Brighton now? This jam thing sounds epic.
Yeah, I got a job as a manager at the oldest cinema in the UK, The Duke of York's. It was built in 1910 and it's a stunning theatre. I love old buildings. Sometimes when I'm in the projection room starting a film I fantasize that I'm in Inglorious Basterds. I love how easy it is to get a budget flight to Europe. It makes touring a hell of a lot easier! My gear can fit in carry on luggage practically!
What kind of a scene is there in Brighton?
I played a show last year that was held in an anarchist cafe that turns into members club in the evenings for gigs and things. There's still a really DIY aesthetic. Usually it'll be one of your mates promoting a night and hiring out a hall. It's a great music town and art town. This month is Brighton Festival, Fringe and Great Escape. For a city with such a small population we're really spoilt culturally. So tomorrow night for instance I'm going to see Will Gregory of Goldfrapp and his Moog ensemble play at the church that is directly across the road from my house.
Does techno come into the equation for you these days?
I don't choose what comes out of me. I mean of course I edit things. I don't ever sit down and go, ok today I'm going to make a techno track or today I want something with more of a hip hop groove. I think it's an amalgamation of all the music that I've ever listened to and taken something away from. What it turns into probably depends most on how I'm feeling emotionally that day. Making music is a kind of therapy for me. It's the getting out of something. The purging. I make some pretty dark music and I can take a step back and listen to it sometimes and not even feel like its mine but think "Oh god I know where that came from". It's almost showing me something that I didn't know about how I feel. Even though my palette is pretty cold and mechanical I still find it pretty emotional to listen to. Because there are no lyrics it kind of invites you to the party but you have to meet it half way. It's an invitation to let your mind wander. Heavy meditation music? A deep tissue massage for the soul? You know, when it hurts like hell but feels really good at the same time.
Listen to Drill Folly's debut EP 'No Love Lost', out now through Wood and Wire.
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