Bicep have been creating works of immersive and emotive art together since meeting at school in Belfast - and this week the duo embarks on an ambitious livestream filmed at London’s Saatchi Gallery.
Their music, which Andrew Ferguson and Matthew McBriar describe as “introspective”, led to the creation of techno classic “Glue” and, earlier this year, sophomore album Isles debuted at Number Two in the UK albums chart.
“When we were first playing in London we got like forty people, so to go up to ten thousand over a couple of nights was just crazy,” McBriar says - but the duo’s proudest moment so far was bringing their families to their first show at Printworks London. “I think it was a real, ‘wow, we’re here!’ moment,” adds McBriar, “and to have all our family come down, and for all of our team around us, it was great.”
Ferguson points to “Cazenove” as his favourite track on Bicep's new record. “We’ve worked quite a lot on a techno version of it, and it’s very different in feeling to the one on the album. It’s the same track, but it just shows what we were trying to achieve in a live performance, from listening to an album to the live performance, how it can change the track and the feeling of it, but it's quintessentially the same isn't it? I’m kind of happy with how that one in particular has worked out.”
Their inspiration for the record didn’t come from the influence of other artists but their own identities and experiences: “I would say our music is less about what we listen to and it’s more a case of what we grew up with,” Ferguson explains. “That’s the reason we called the album Isles.
“It represents half our lives spent in Ireland, half our lives spent in London, and the different influences from Belfast growing up with a lot of Techno and Trance, and Choral music; which is juxtaposed against what we heard in London, which is a lot more culturally diverse. The music there was Jungle music, Garage music, which wasn’t prevalent in Ireland but was a lot bigger here.”
Covid has of course meant it’s more difficult to attend shows and give fans new experiences but the pandemic hasn’t halted the duo’s work. This week’s livestream from the Saatchi Gallery will provide audiences a brand new experience, complete with the visuals they’ve become known for in collaboration with Zak Norman, the British visual artist and stage designer who operates as Black Box Echo. The show will feature a mixture of reimagined versions of tracks from their back catalogue as well as new material from Isles.
What are their plans beyond Covid? “We just really need to wait and see,” they say. “We just don’t know at this moment when that’s going to be. So, I think we’re just keeping it very loose at the moment- it’s hard to know if things will be back by September really, we just don’t know so the best thing to do is just not make plans. We’re just looking forward to going to the pub with our mates.”