Garden City Movement Interview: Defining Modern West

BLDG5 Records‘ electronic trio Garden City Movement is on the rise once again. Having conquered the top of the Hype Machine charts, universally acclaimed radio station plays and the underground blogosphere earlier last year with their single “Move On”, taken from their debut Entertainment EP, they are back. Over the last year Johnny Sharoni, Joe Saar and singer Roi Avital have created a huge buzz around their group, blending their cosmopolitan vibe with oriental melodies and electronic beats in the most sophisticated way.
Johnny Sharoni spoke to The WeekID about the band’s inspirations, past releases and their new Modern West EP that completes their trilogy of EPs.

Garden City Movement
Garden City Movement
How did a method of urban planning by Sir Ebenezer Howard turn into the name of your musical trio?

Johnny: We were looking for a name that represents our working and aesthetics method and at the same time still brings something from the place we come from. Bauhaus was already taken, so…

Some of your members have already been in the music industry prior to your group. How did you three end up working together forming Garden City Movement?

Johnny: Joe and Roy were in a band called Lorena B and they are both working as musicians for a long time. I met them while helping with a few things on their latest EP right after they moved to London for a few months. After they started working on new stuff, they were looking for someone to help them with the lyrics. I joined for the first session and it worked really well between us three. I think on the same day we wrote “Move On“.

“Move On” won you an MTV Video Music Award for the best music video in your country. How do you feel about this track being the first “point of contact” to your worldwide audience?

Johnny: Move On is one of the first songs we created together so as a “point of contact” it was a great start. It’s hard to compare any track to another because when you think about it most of the songs are in different genres and what keeps them all under one roof is that Garden City Movement vibe. It’s kind of hard to explain, but when you listen to our music you just feel this special vibe.

Not many Israeli bands are known in the Western blogosphere today, which gives you a unique distinction on the international market. What do you feel you have done differently from your fellow Israeli acts in order to stand out on the international market?

Johnny: Well If you think about acts that have already succeeded in the past you can take the example of Ofra Haza, who was hyped in the late 80’s in the UK with her special Yemen vibes. On the other hand in the same decade Minimal Compact was one of the most important new-wave bands in Europe, so Israel can produce different music acts in a wide spectrum of genres that can stand out and that’s even without talking about the electronic, jazz or world music scenes that has had great names with successful careers abroad.
I guess we just approached the whole blogging thing differently and put a strong emphasis on the packaging. Nowadays most of the local artists are putting a lot more effort in these directions.

After various single releases and successful EPs including Entertainment and Bengali Cinema, you have returned with your new five-track EP named Modern West. What is the theme behind it and where does its title refer to?

Johnny: I look at Modern West as a release that was inspired from our first summer of touring and all the other stuff that have happened to us combined with our personal relationship. Modern West specifically is a song about being in a romantic relationship with a partner who wants badly to be someone in the art scene and tries too hard, even though they know nothing about anything.

Modern West picks up pretty much where you left off on Bengali Cinema, firmly expanding your sound into a funkier territory. How did you experience the transition? How do you think you have evolved as artists?

Johnny: I think we look at the EP as a part of a trilogy, so it’s continuing Bengali Cinema for sure. We’re always on the move so I didn’t even think about it as moving into a funkier territory, but yes it’s kind of true. I guess it’s the combination between our style and the things that inspire us and how we feel at the time of the recording. As artists I think we’ve evolved mainly in recording techniques and sampling methods, but what is the most important is that we’ve also evolved in working together as time goes by and we experience more things. Especially on the road you become closer to your creative buddies and that’s what makes the music a lot more real.

Modern West is released by BLDG5 records in collaboration with the British music and arts enterprise The Vinyl Factory. What is the connection?

Johnny: After Bengali Cinema we were planning to work on our debut album. Then we received a call from The Vinyl Factory and they asked us to create an EP for them, so our plans changed. But we are really happy about it! I like the EP trilogy idea.

I really love your song “Sorting Things Out”. It evokes a toned down Machinedrum feeling, which sounds pretty effortless. Could you tell us a bit more about the track?

Johnny: It’s kind of a funny story because “Sorting Things Out” was one of the drafts we created while working on our first EP, but we weren’t so happy about it and just left it with all the other sketches. While working on the Modern West EP we sat one day and listened to all of our sketches – just for fun – and then we thought “wow that’s kind of cool, let’s make it work”. So we played with it a bit and this time it did work.

What are your plans for the near future, other than touring Europe next to globally renowned artists like Caribou and the Mercury Prize winners Young Fathers? Are you planning on releasing your debut album by the end of this year?

Johnny: Yeah, we just came back from touring and we are flying again next week so I guess this is what we’ll do most of the summer and when we get back I hope we’ll start to work on our album, but you never know interesting opportunities jump all the time.

Modern West is out now on BLDG5 / The Vinyl Factory. Buy here.

Jun 25 – Budapest Essentials, Budapest, Hungary
Jun 26 – Powerhouse, Moscow, Russia
Jun 27 – Jam Bar Summer Stage, Kazan, Russian Federation
Jun 28 – Genesis Festival, Moscow, Russian Federation
Jun 29 – Arena Wien, Vienna, Austria
Jul 02  – Jewish Culture Festival, Krakow, Poland
Jul 03 – Pitch Festival Amsterdam, Netherlands
Jul 08 – The Block, Tel Aviv, Israel

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