Walker & Royce take us through their new album ‘Self Help’
Having graced such labels as Relief Records, Moda Black, Crosstown Rebels and Pets Recordings, Sam Walker and Gavin Royce aka Walker & Royce have been keeping people dancing since the duo formed in 2011.
They recently announced their debut album ‘Self Help’, via Dirtybird. They have made a rapid ascent into the inboxes and hearts of the genre’s most sought after label bosses of late, after linking up in 2011 and working relentlessly to define and refine their now-signature sound. Launching from Claude’s release of their Boy EP in summer 2016, they headed straight into their next success on Green Velvet’s Relief via their ‘Peep This Cat’ EP, then into the studio with This Ain’t Bristol head honcho Billy Kenny resulting in the collaborative heat of “The Lonely Robot”.
Now they step up with their debut album and the release invites listeners on an out-there trip through the quirks and quips of an act on the tip of modern house music’s tongue, an immensely clever project that lures listeners in with club-ready grooves only to leave them in contemplation. We sat down with them to talk us through each track on the album, you can hear the whole album via Spotify as you read.
This one we worked on throughout the process, here and there. We wanted a track that was not dance and that was big and felt like a sunrise or something epic and with lots of choir in it. We had these little synth ideas and one was this really hazy melody that just felt like a happy comedown moment in the sun, which is the one at 1:04. hence, “Sunday”!
Role Models was a bit of a great accident; we already had a different track that we sent to OnCue but he wound up using something we didn’t expect him to sing on. We went over to his studio (which happened to be literally right next door to where we used to have ours years prior!) so he could sing me what he had in mind…we knew right there that we were gonna wind up with something really good. Most of the bed as this trap-ish house thing was already there but then after he sung on it we put the pad/guitar melody on it for the break and the track went even better than we thought.
Best Track Ever
for the album we got an MFB Dominion 1 which is a monophonic/paraphonic analog synth. This track is full of that, just like, what can we do with this thing. We wanted to make something very pretty but really hard at the same time. That’s what got me (Sam) into this from the start; the hard/pretty contrast. Like what Sasha did, it’s definitely got that as a big influence from back in the day. The times I went to see him at Twilo there would be these huge beautiful buildups and then a stop and then it would slam back into the groove and the place would blow up. But- I also wanted something sarcastic in there, like, don’t take this whole thing too seriously.
My Own Thang
It took us a few tries to land this track on the right vibe and I’m glad we took our time. We sent Sophie some other bed and she gave us this monster vocal like, immediately. She’s amazing. You’ll notice she’s singing in triplets, so it was a little bit different from writing a usual house track. We knew from the beginning we wanted to do something minimal and subby but it’s really easy to screw that up and be boring; in the end we’re really happy with how it came out!!
Take Me To Your Leader
We sent some beds to Dances With White Girls and he got us back several ideas almost immediately. One was this take me to your leader thing, and we started the track over. It was written in about two days. It started out similar to the vibe of My Own Thang but once we worked the guitar and bassline into it it became much bigger and it basically wrote itself.
In keeping with tracks of ours like Sister, there’s something about female vocals that we want to loop and stretch and play with in a track. Also wanted to use choir sounds like in Sunday but as a stab or bassline almost. This one’s just a playground of musical ideas that we made a song out of!
Love & Marriage
The second track we made with Dances, more like a straight up house jam. We just wanted to feature the lyrics because they’re so funny.
We wanted to include a straight up minimal chugger on the album, with not everything having a full vocal. We had been sitting on this one for a bit and then got the MFB Dominion 1 involved and just kinda went crazy with it.
This was actually another Dances track that we got JPatt on and changed a bit. It’s using some of the same vibes as Warkin It as well as Take Me To Your Leader and Why Tho. The concept was funny and subversive so we had to use it! Another one where we were set on putting a harder banging track on the album so it wasn’t just more chill house or pop tracks.
Rub Anotha Dub
A last minute collaboration with Green Velvet! We had told him months before that we were doing an album and he was down to do it but you can imagine he is an insanely busy guy. But he got in touch and we made it happen. We sent him some beds and he sent back this gem almost instantly. Then we re-wrote the bed and came up with something a bit different and weird.
and finally, we coincidentally heard from Forrest right when we were on the lookout for a vocal style like his! He hit us up randomly and we sent him some beds. Originally we were going to put his vocals on the track when ended up being “Sunday” like for an Animal Collective kind of vibe, but then we decided to create a new track from scratch that was different from the rest, with more of a techno and 80s vibe, and it really worked out better. We were sort of going for a Junior Boys influenced sound, mixed with the rest of the sonic palette we had established throughout the rest of the process.