Ever wondered what happens when you mix a musical Manxie with a couple of talented Latvians? Some pretty incredible experimental music is what. Local girl Helen Morrisson of Foxtrap is doing the island proud on the adjacent Isle and her band regularly give the Isle of Man a taste of something a bit different when they come back to town…
The trio started making music together in 2013, and it feels like a satisfying collision of styles with their unique combination of electronica, live percussion and haunting vocals. Since they began making their hypnotic tunes, Foxtrap have released two Eps, Boxes in August 2014 and Brother in 2017. Their releases have been met with critical success. Singles ‘Kontrol’ and ‘Boxes’ were awarded Track of the Week by Best of British Unsigned and their songs have gained radio airtime across BBC Radio 6, BBC Merseyside and others. Their 9k following on Facebook isn’t too shabby either and it really seems that this is a band that is going places, but this isn’t surprising when you get a chance to see them live.
At last year’s TT they played to a packed-out Hooded Ram tent where I was lucky enough to be bopping around in the crowd. Jev’s electronica forms the base of the band’s sound, with pulsating beats that drive each track forward. Add Vadim’s impressive drum work to the mix and you’ve got an atmospheric back drop for Helen’s voice. Her soaring vocals are layered over the top of all this like the icing on a tasty (but emotionally confusing) cake that may leave you wanting to dance and cry at the same time. Finally, when the vocals drop out and Helen pulls out her trumpet, you’re left questioning what dimension you’re in, never mind what genre. All of this combines to create an electric atmosphere, and crowds can’t seem to help wearing in their dancing shoes to the melancholy party anthems. Their set keeps the party flowing throughout, at one point even delving into the world of punk with their makeover of the Stooges classic ‘I Wanna be your Dog’.
The band are based in Liverpool, but they regularly make the trip back to the Island as much as they can. I caught up with Helen recently to chat about influences, recording the debut album, and the island:
How did you guys start making music together?
I was playing a gig with a different band and Jev saw me from afar. He was like (pretty decent attempt at a Latvian accent) “I want her to sing on track”. It was just Jev and I initially, then he had the idea to get a band together and we got Vad in.
You obviously have a very unique sound with all the different aspects that make up the band – very Massive Attack – do you all have different tastes in music, or do you have the same influences?
Yeahh… we love Massive Attack. We do have a shared interest, but then we all have our
own thing going on too. I’m more guilty pleasures. I like a massive broad spectrum, but then I can easily just enjoy a bit of pop – which you can probably tell from the vocals. Jev is into more experimental music, so he likes Aphex Twin and things like that. I can’t quite get into them myself… I find them a bit scary. Then Vad is into the most random things. He loves Funk and Metal but then we’ll sit in his car one day and there’ll be Kylie Minogue on.
Your Eps were released to critical success. Are you excited to get a full album out there finally?
Yessssss, we really are. It’s been so long. Maybe its cause we’re all musicians so we find it hard to organise ourselves, but we finally decided this is the time.
So how did recording go, any hiccups?
Noo, noo. I don’t like recording, because it’s like when you listen to your voice back and all you can hear are the faults and the problems, like “oh my god this is horrible”. So I don’t love the recording process… but I love it when it’s done and you can listen back to the complete thing. You just have to remember when recording that you’re never going to get it as perfect as you would like it to sound.
What’s the future for Foxtrap then after the release of this album?
The plan is to gig, gig, gig. Obviously we will be coming back to the island for TT which we can’t wait for, but basically this year is about promoting the album and playing as much as possible. We want to write some new tracks too as the album has a lot of material from the last 5 years and we feel like its time to start creating some new stuff.
Amazing that you’re back for TT again, how do you find it playing in the Isle of Man compared to England?
We all love it to be honest. I really like Manx crowds. I love that whole “woo this is amazing, lets jump up and down, I’m so drunk” thing. We find that in Liverpool it definitely has to be the right venue, where as in the Isle of Man you can play anywhere, and everyone just wants to have a great time.
Foxtrap performing at ‘Gef Presents…” 2018
Foxtrap’s debut album drops 22/02/19 and can be bought here