By Georgia Milhé
The story goes that you two have been friends for a while now, but when was it exactly that ‘Naysayer and Gilsun’ formed?
From memory, we both started experimenting with the same programs and styles when we were about 15 and at high school together. We’d swap mp3 copies of what we’d been working with and discuss ideas. Luke was always a lot more advanced, so it was a great way to push forward and develop. Later, we wanted to play at parties (and be Cool DJ Guys) and formed the duo. Both names were always a joke… ‘Gilsun’ is what people called me in Japanese class and ‘Naysayer’ was Luke’s MC name.
You guys have played some massive festivals over the last few years as well as some killer headline shows, which do you prefer? Do you have any coming up you can let us know about?
Headline shows are great because we are control freaks. Doing our own show – booking it and promoting it ourselves – allows us to control every aspect of the vision. It’s always really important to us to have bright, crisp, high definition projection on a very large screen. That said, there are some festival experiences that are unforgettable. Golden Plains is a festival we’ve had the honour of playing twice. They really went the extra mile to make the visuals look perfect and the audience and atmosphere are absolutely unique. We can definitely tell you we’ll be touring this year, probably a couple of times. The rest is still a secret!
You’re known for your audiovisual sets, what is it about the combination of sound and image that you love so much? What is the inspiration behind them?
Well, we’ve always been film nerds, so it seemed like a natural progression given we experimented with making lots of ridiculous and very, very pretentious short films in high school about as much as we made music.
Putting together the audiovisual show was a way for us to push what we’d been making and performing musically a lot further, too. We had a lot of fun producing and DJing heavily appropriative, cut-and-paste style mixtapes and sets, but wanted to find a medium we could work in that would rely less on immediately recognisable samples and more on a wholly immersive experience based around unfamiliar material.
I guess that’s just a wanky way of saying: we wanted to do our own thing.
Do you film any of the clips yourself or do you prefer to use archive footage and edit it to fit your own style?
We made the video clip to ‘In Mind’ ourselves. That is the only thing we’ve ever put in our show that we shot ourselves. The rest is all samples and appropriation. A lot of the show has impact because the audience is aware that what they are saying is someone else’s film that has been remixed and affected. It wouldn’t make you uncomfortable hearing the victims in Scream sing “Hello” if you didn’t know that scream was a horror film someone else had made.
Your passion for the audiovisual surely means you guys have a keen interest in cinema, would you consider yourselves film buffs? What are your favourite films or do you have a favourite director? Do you think they have an influence on your own work?
Absolutely. We come from a group of friends who’re fiercely geeky about music and film. Aside from that being a great way to bond, it seems like being a pretentious dickhead as a teenager also means you never, ever want to be in a conversation where you have to admit you haven’t seen a film or heard some classic album. So, you just chew through everything like a maniac. It’s kind of a twisted, very anxious way of getting a great education, I guess.
We’ve both always had a very similar taste in film, though. Whether it be heavily referential filmmakers from the 90s like Paul Thomas Anderson or more experimental filmmakers like Lynch, we get excited about the same things most of the time – which, in its own way, always translates into the things we produce or remix together.
Last year saw the release of your debut single In Mind – which we love by the way – so with your background in this audiovisual scene we were wondering if you had any specific images/film clips/edits (excuse the pun) in mind when creating it? If so, are these images represented in the film clip? Or was it purely the sounds of the track that took focus?
It actually went the other way. We laboured over that track for a few months trying to decide what sound would best accompany Simon’s vocals. In the end we found what we thought was a nice mix of crunchy digital synthesis and clattery, organic rhythm. Part of achieving that sound was realising we had to chop up Simon’s vocals – this became the track’s hook. We then got the chance to turn that sound into vision when we made the video clip. We sat down and spent some time trying visualise the sort of shapes, colours and movements that constitute a visual representation of those androgynous, cut up vocals. In the end we came up with a video that’s very purple and blue, with a whole bunch of moving, distorting discs that go with the vocal hook. Not to mention Simon’s beautiful face.
Speaking of your single, do you have any pending releases we should look out for in the near future?
We certainly do. We finished a couple of releases in the summer that should be released in the next couple of months. Beyond that, we’re working on a new audiovisual mixtape, an hour-long commissioned video project and (maybe) a bundle of tracks which vaguely resemble the beginning of an LP. Fingers crossed it’s all decent enough to see the light of day!
In Mind saw you collaborate with Simon Lam, who would be your dream collaboration be with?
Gee. Big question. There are so many producer’s we’d love to be able to sit down with. I think we’d both love to have a studio session with Blondes. They have this way of making songs that seem almost structureless but always stay engaging. Their self titled album has been one of our favourites for a while.
Thank-you for your time and good luck with your future endeavours!