Recently, I had the pleasure of stumbling across, and subsequently reviewing, the delightful slice of folk tinged indie rock that is the British Ibm. Their second album, ‘Psychopaths Dream in Black and White’ is a highly enjoyable, soothing collection of richly textured tracks, with swathes of lilting cello that compliment the comfortable melancholy of Aidy Killens thoughtful songwriting. As I’ve had the album on heavy rotation since before its official release, it makes for a lovely chilled listen after a big day, I decided to hit Aidy up for an interview and he has been good enough to answer a few questions about the band, the album and future plans; here’s what we talked about.
So, how’s the album doing, are you happy with the reception so far?
Really well, it’s got some decent reviews and feedback and even some radio play in the US. Also, one of the tracks is being used in the new trailer for ‘From Bedrooms to Billions: The Amiga Years’, which is cool, as they used the title track from the previous album on their first ‘Bedrooms to Billions’ film (see below).
‘Psychopaths Dream in Black and White’ seems like an unusual title for such a laid back record, what was the thinking behind it?
I came up with the idea for an album about psychopaths quite a while ago and wanted to create something conceptual that told the story of a psychopath and how his lack of empathy was more of an asset than than a hindrance. It was influenced by stuff like ‘Kill Your Friends’ by John Niven. The title of the album comes from the book ‘The Psychopath Test’.
For me the use of the cello on a number of the tracks adds a real depth, how was it that Anna Scott came to be involved?
Anna’s awesome and probably my favorite bit of the recording session because you get to just sit around and listen to her play. She’s also just the right mix of indie-savvy (if that’s a word) and classically trained. So you don’t need everything written out in perfect musical notation; she can adapt and change to the songs as they progress in the session.
I got to know about her via the local scene and she played with other bands we knew like Eureka Stockade. She played on the last album too and did an equally awesome job on that too.
Did she contribute to the composition or had you already worked out the orchestrated parts?
I already had the majority of the string parts composed on the original demo tracks using synth strings, which she replicated. But she did ad-lib on a couple of bits. The middle eight on ‘We Were the Stars’ and also ‘I’m Just Like You’.
Does she/Will she ever join you live?
She joined us once live for a radio session with Q Radio. You can download the session from the shareware section of our site for free. http://www.thebritishibm.com
How much of a team effort is British Ibm?
It’s mainly me to be honest, I write all the songs and manage all the day to day stuff and then teach the songs to Dave and Paul for the live shows. Both of them are pretty busy with their own projects too. Paul plays in multiple bands and also acts and writes. Dave plays in a few bands too and recently started his own band called Taken With The Tides.
You seem to be a very prolific song writer, is there already another project in the pipeline?
Always! I make video games in my spare time with a friend under the name Gimpy Software and we’re working on the mobile version of a game we released on Xbox 360 a while ago. It’s called ‘Lunar Panda’, and we’re also working on a sequel to our other mobile game ‘Gimpy Bomber’. So I’ll be doing all the music for those. I’ve also got some ideas and demos for the next British IBM album, which has the working title of ‘Where is Matthew Smith?’.
I realize that there is this relationship between gaming and music, but I wanted to know more about your musical and songwriting influences…
I was a bit obsessed with REM growing up and their stuff from the IRS years. Although one of my favorite REM albums is ‘New Adventures in Hifi’, which influenced at least one track off this album. As well as REM though, I listen to a lot of music and a lot of different stuff, though probably 80% of what I listen to is within the genre of indie rock. I guess all that kind of bleeds into my songwriting in some way or another.
I’ve recently interviewed some bands about the difficulties of the UK music scene, what’s your view on the current musical climate?
Bands and artists always seem to have a tendency to blame their local music scene for all sorts of reasons and I think it’s the same the world over for bands and artists at our level. I played some gigs in Vegas last year with 8 Bit Weapon who are from LA and we were chatting about our local scenes and seemed to have a lot of the same grievances, despite being an ocean apart.
Although at a higher level there are definitely some things that wind me up such as the growing popularity and enablers of shows like X Factor and The Voice and how prominent these reality shows have become in our culture. For such a small country the UK is probably the largest exporter in the world for music; a lot of the biggest bands have come out of this country such as the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Gorillaz, Prodigy, Oasis etc.. and you can look back at any decade from our past and sum it up with the iconic imagery and a soundtrack that reflects what was going on at the time. Right now it feels like we’re pissing all over that.
Is the internet more of a help or a hindrance?
It’s a massive help to DIY Musicians such as myself, I can distribute and promote my music myself, find gig venues, book hotels when we’re on the road etc. And I’m constantly using online tools like Trello and Google Sheets to manage things. Sure there are some issues and it can be hard to get heard above the noise, but overall I think the pros far outweigh the cons.
As an artist, where do you stand on streaming services? Do you use them as a listener?
Love them! I have Spotify and use it everyday. As a music fan it’s awesome having that much music instantly available at your finger tips. I go through the new albums on Metacritic each week and listen to them on Spotify to discover new stuff, I use it to create playlists and go through back catalogs of artists I’ve discovered, or to just listen to old favorites without having to dig up the physical media from a box somewhere in my attic.
As a musician I don’t make a lot of money off of it, but I’m not bothered, there are other ways to make money from music and it’s still helped with exposure.
Finally, what are your short and long term plans for British IBM?
Short term, do some more promotion and gigs for this album so that I can feel happy that I did everything I could do to get it out into the world. That’s been like a full time job in itself but it has been fun.
Long term, I’m going to start work on ‘Where is Matthew Smith?’ and I’m also going to start incorporating some retro gaming into our live shows in 2016.
Massive thanks to Aidy for such a cool interview. You can find ‘Psychopaths Dream in Black and White” for the absurdly cheap price of five pounds sterling right here:
And you can read my highly complimentary review by following this link: https://hardpresseded.wordpress.com/2015/08/30/british-ibm-psychopaths-dream-in-black-and-white-review/