Cover photo: Ben Price (Bicep)
For the release of Bicep’s debut album, Groove met up with the Belfast duo, consisting of Andy Ferguson and Matt McBriar, at their recording studio in London to discuss their rise from music bloggers to acclaimed dance music producers, their soft spot for over-the-top melodies and tracks, they wish they had kept to themselves.
Let’s go back to 2008 when you guys started your music blog Feel My Bicep. What was the blogosphere like at the time?
Andy: We started with the intention of sharing music with a close group of friends. We used to go to parties together, back when we lived in Belfast. Then everyone went to different universities. It wasn’t our intention to find a niche within the blogosphere. We were just ripping a lot of records at the time. This was before YouTube.
Matt: YouTube already existed, but you’d only find chart hits on there. Spotify and SoundCloud had just begun, I think. And embedding a SoundCloud links was alien. We were paying for own servers, uploading files and coding it in. We were doing it ourselves.
Andy: We’d find records that we wanted to talk about. We’d rip them and put them online. That’s what started getting hits, because there was a lot of old shit people hadn’t heard before.
Back then you’d still find a lot vinyl that wasn’t listed on Discogs yet.
Matt: Yeah, it was early music internet.
Andy: It was nice though, the mystery of it all. We’ve been digging a few times in Montreal and found record that you still can’t find information on online. It still exists, but you just have to keep digging for them.
Stream: Bicep – Glue (Clip)
When you started the blog, did you envision a career in music?
Matt: No, it was a hobby. We both worked long in non-music related jobs. Andy was in Manchester. I was in the Middle East. And there wasn’t any opportunity to have any sort of meaningful connection to music out there. I DJed [in bars] every week. Some people would nod their heads, but there was no interaction. At the time the blog was my real DJing. I would upload music and there was an interaction, and that’s what DJing is about. Finding something and sharing it, the blog was a chance for me to do that on a different scale.
In an interview with The Guardian you said that running the blog became addictive. At one point you posted more than hundred tracks per week and you had an audience of 10.000 visitors a month, right?
Matt: Yeah, that was around 2011, just before we started taking producing music a bit more seriously. Prior to that, the blog was everything that we focused on.
How did running the blog lead you to making music?
Matt: It happened naturally. We started doing Italo Disco edits. When you do a lot of edits, you want to add some more sounds, maybe add some hi-hits, some chords. And instead of it being an edit, you start to just take a sample, and all of you sudden you have a sample house track. Fast-forward two years, you don’t want to use samples anymore. And you’re trying to use VST plug-ins, but then you think these sound shit. Then you buy a synth to get the sound you want and then you become addicted to buying synths. And then you end up like this (points at the analogue synthesizers surrounding him).