You might know them because TRICKY sampled their song “Love is a Chain Store” in his 2013 single “Does It“, taken from his recent album “False Idols”. If you haven’t listened to THE ROPES yet, here’s a perfect chance. Composed of vocalist and bassist Sharon Shy and multi-instrumentalist “Toppy”, this indie pop duo just released “Sadness is the Rich Man’s Drug”, a brand new EP with three amazingly crafted tracks that will serve an interesting musical accompaniment to your internal dialogue. Plunge your head into this exquisitely gorgeous synthetic freshness, and read my interview with THE ROPES.
Hey there guys! What’s up? Is it freezing in NYC yet?
Yes, it is.
Ha! There’s still no sign of snow in Warsaw and I hope it stays that way.
Ok then, it’s not very often that we here at IDIOTEQ cover an electro dream pop indie band (confusion to damn labels!), but there’s no doubt THE ROPES serve a great opportunity to once again prove that being open for different genres, and views helps you absorb interesting new ideas, experiences, and expand your horizons. “Sadness is the Rich Man’s Drug” certainly proves it. How do you personally experience this new, slightly different musical journey? What does this new record mean to you?
In regard to labels, we’re not electro. As far as dream pop – the only dreams are broken ones and we make no attempt to be pop. The word indie has become meaningless, however we have always been DIY. To us, indie means DIY and that is something we have in common with many of the hardcore/punk bands we know.
For us, music is about content, not genre. We’ll go head to head with any hardcore band when it comes to the darkness of our thoughts and our level of angst – but we aren’t here to push our music down people’s throats. If any of your readers want to dismiss us because of the way we “sound” – then that is their fucking prerogative. It’s fine with us.
“Sadness Is the Rich Man’s Drug” was difficult to make. We wanted it to incorporate several concepts that we hadn’t found a way to correctly express aesthetically or lyrically before. Releasing music is never emotionally easy for us and this EP was no exception.
There are almost no live instruments in these new tunes, right? What was your instrumental and equipment set-up like when you recorded this new effort?
Actually, every song makes some use of live instruments. For example, the intro to “Sadness Is the Rich Man’s Drug” is a guitar. We rarely use the guitar in a traditional way, so it is sometimes confused as a synth. There is also quite a bit of live bass. We have some old and dying synths that don’t do MIDI, so those are technically played “live” as well. I guess it all depends on one’s definition of what “live” is.
No doubt. Were there any creative differences between the both of you while writing and/or recording these tunes?
Not really. Nothing starts being officially “written” until we’ve completely agreed on a concept / title. So, the arguing would take place before the actual music begins.
Your sound draws many lines back to classic indie and shoegaze scene in the 80s and 90s. What artists inspired this piece and how do your inspirations differ now from when you started? Also, as a duo, how do you melt your different inspirations?
It’s not inspired by any artists. We are unfortunately limited by the same laws of physics as everyone else. So, it’s inevitable that if you use a certain instrument, effect, have a female voice etc. – you’ll be categorized in some way. So be it. We’ve been described as far worse things than shoegaze, so it’s fine. It doesn’t really matter in the end.
Our inspirations are life, not the desire to emulate other artists. We started doing this because we realized that we both had an obsession with filling a void that we felt in music. We wanted to write songs about the things we actually talk about and think about – and we wanted to express it in the “way” that we talk and think about it. So many bands seem to write a song just for the sake of it. That’s a crime.
Understood, but on the other hand you are a part of certain NYC music community, right? I guess that not being fascinated by other artists and not trying to emulate them doesn’t mean you can’t be inspired by others’ music achievements. What do you think?
We are not part of any NYC music community. We aren’t out networking and trying to meet people. We just happen to be based in the NYC area. A scene that we’d want to be involved in, is one where there is a healthy competition of “ideas” – where artists are obsessed with creating something worth someone’s time. There is no such scene in NYC. The only competition going on in NYC is a popularity contest. We don’t need to enter or show up for that. We’ll certainly lose. The music industry is no place for solitary or introverted people. That’s why we don’t claim to be part of it. We just happen to be two individuals who have chosen to spend their lives making music.
What you’re saying about being inspired by others’ musical achievements makes sense, but to wholly answer that question as it applies to us would take longer than anyone would care to hear. It really just goes back to our motivation for doing this in the first place. If you’re obsessed with filling a void, you don’t spend much time thinking about what’s already there. You just focus on the void.
Do you perform your music live?
Where have you been playing live lately? What’s the furthest you went to play a gig? Also, do you have any upcoming tour dates?
We’ve toured the US several times. Glasgow, Scotland and London, England would currently be the furthest. We’ll be booking for 2015 soon.
Apart from the live shows, are you already planning your next release? Another full length perhaps?
Yes. We’ve started recording. We’d like to do another full-length. It will just depend on how things come together.
What do you wish for next year?
Thanks for your time and our quit chat. Feel free to add your last words and have a great year!
Thank you. Hope you have a wonderful year yourself.