Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit
“Such is the unpredictable world of trying to be creative”: Best Fit Meets Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs

“Such is the unpredictable world of trying to be creative”: Best Fit Meets Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs

15 June 2012, 12:41

Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs: one guy, a whole host of costumes and magnificently matched tones, beats and timbres.

It’s this recipe that has placed Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, aka TEED, aka Orlando Higginbottom so prominently at the forefront of music loving minds over the past 18 months, and why the anticipation for his debut album Trouble to drop has been so… troubling. His outstanding live performances featuring dancers, extravagant headdresses and outfits, and carefully plotted setlists designed to lift listeners to the point of rapture have made him one of Europe’s most coveted live acts and now, he’s finally released his debut full length album. We catch up with Orlando Higginbottom at home, a few days after wrapping up a much praised headline show at London’s Koko to hear more about how Trouble came to life.

“I had Rob Da Bank and Zinc supporting, which was kind of… amazing!” Higginbottom comments coyly of his recent Koko show. “And I was lucky, the weather was incredible so everyone was in this great mood.”

The live show is where a huge amount of TEED’s following first came across the artist. With Higginbottom being an incessant tourer boasting an acclaimed live show, our conversation naturally begins by discussing whether he was always a comfortable performer, or whether nerves have ever played a part in his musical life. “I get a lot of adrenaline before a show,” he comments. “I’ve had a few shows where I’ve been nervous, but on the whole, it’s fine. Even early on, I wasn’t really nervous, it was just the odd one where there was a lot of pressure that I’d think ‘Ah. Fuck.’ It’s the ones where I know that it’s going to be shit where I get nervous!”

Such extensive touring has given the Oxford native occasion to not only create a dazzling live show, but also to air the tracks prepared for his long awaited debut album, Trouble. “I’m very excited ” Higginbottom states. “Of course, i’m a bit nervous. There’s a lot of work that I’ve put into it and it’s a very personal thing that i’m putting out there. So i’m nervous about how people are going to take it, but on the other hand, I don’t really care how people take it. I made it, that’s what I wanted to make so there’s nothing else I can do really. I am excited and I have no idea what’s going to happen with it. I don’t know if it’s going to sell any copies at all, or a thousand copies, so it’ll be a surprise.”

Trouble is certainly not TEED’s first release, having already put out five EPs, a plethora of remixes and enjoyed viral online success with the track ‘Garden’. So when it came to writing an album rather than an EP length burst of sound, did the writing approach need to be modified? Was there a need to plan more intricately what was going to take place?

“There was definitely no theme that I was working with, musically I didn’t really know,” he responds. “All I knew was that I wanted to keep writing an album until I felt like there was an album, until it took shape. What I can say is that at first, I didn’t think I’d be singing on it that much. I thought i’d just be singing on three or four songs, but I think there’s only one instrumental song on there which now, doesn’t seem surprising to me at all but if i’d said that to myself a year and a half ago, it would’ve been like, ‘oh wow, so you’re a singer then, are you?’. So that was something that took me by surprise. My plan with it was really just to explore the idea of a dance music album and why that doesn’t really work a lot of the time, so I was thinking about that and trying to work out what the problem is.”

The subject of the life span and validity of dance albums is a poignant topic on the day of our chat, as an interview had just been published where Higginbottom feels that his views on this matter had been misconstrued, leading to a series of clarifying messages appearing on his Twitter account.

“I did a magazine interview and I was talking about , and I wrote that I was thinking about why so many dance music albums don’t stand the test of time,” he explains. “But what that was understood as was that I was saying I’d written a dance music album to stand the test of time, but of course I wouldn’t say that and I wouldn’t think that. But the point was that I was thinking about that very thing, about how few dance music albums there are in everybody’s record collections, considering how popular dance music is and has been.”

“When I was a teenager, which I guess was my biggest album listening time, I used to listen to UNKLE, Psyence Fiction - I know that’s not dance, it’s electronic – but that album is incredible and still sounds incredible. Roni Size, New Forms. I was also listening to a lot of R’n’B and Hip Hop, a lot of Erykah Bahdu, Common and Dilla stuff. But I was missing those dance albums.”

“When I was making the album, I was thinking about making something that had a variety of sounds and emotions and tempos and styles and something you could really get your teeth into. Those were my aims, really. Something that would work in the car, in a home and in a club, hopefully.”

Higginbottom’s certainly not alone in reflecting on the prospective longevity, or even the relevance of the format of an album in the modern day, super fast paced, Internet led music world. As an artist who, until now, has experienced heady levels of success on the back of releasing single songs, short EPs and remixes, what does TEED think to the point of the format of an album in the current musical climate?

“It’s pretty weird, isn’t it? We still work on three modes of release – the single, the EP and the LP, and those all come from the days of vinyl. And even though there’s a bit of a vinyl resurgence – but that’s just a couple of extra kids buying records – most people buy their music from iTunes. And I think we don’t need those three formats, it’s just that we’ve built this system that we can’t break out of. So it is weird, the idea of an album now.”

“For me, I definitely wanted to put something together that you could listen to the whole way through if you wanted to, if you had an hour to spare, but more a collection of my sound really. It works as a whole, but each track has its own space. That’s how I plan on working it, and hopefully putting each one out on Soundcloud so everyone can get to know it that way. But it’s a really funny time, there isn’t a perfect way of doing this and certainly the record industry still revolves around albums. And y’know, with people like Adele, it still works.”

With a mixture of brand new songs featuring alongside some of the already well known and loved tracks that have brought Higginbottom to this point of prominence, is there a track on the album that stands out as a particular personal triumph, a song that perhaps means just a bit more than the others?

“That would probably be ‘Trouble’,” he answers quickly. “That was the first song I ever sang on the whole way through. It was a bit of a surprise to me and something I found quite scary. And I felt like I was putting my neck on the line, as it were, and now in hindsight, i’m really proud of that song and I really like it, but I was really shitting myself when I first put that out there! I had zero confidence in my voice, or the idea of me as a singer or a songwriter, so that song was a bit of a personal battle for me that ended up coming out well.”

The first whispers from Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs were heard way back in 2009, with the past 18 months seeing Higginbottom enjoy radio success and a surge of popularity. As such, the opportunity must have arisen to have released an album sooner than he has. So if an album had been released earlier, would it still have had a similar feel?

No,” he responds decisively. “I think the time I took really made this record sound as it does. If I go back to the original demos for my album, the 30 tracks that I came up with when I first decided to write an album, it’s very different stuff with a slightly different attitude. But I’m really happy about the way this has gone, it’s become increasingly honest and free, and experimental – certainly in my eyes – and that’s how I want to keep on going. Even forgetting that i’m writing dance music or whatever, and just find out what the music is that I want to write. And think about it like that. I’ve been grateful of the time – it added to the pressure massively, but the eventual record is something that i’m happy with.”

“I used to go into the studio as soon as I’d eaten some food and stay in there until I was hungry again. I loved being in the studio and I was quite happy to put the hours in, it’s what I do, and sometimes I’d spend three days there and get absolutely nowhere, sometimes I’d write and finish two tunes in 24 hours. Such is the unpredictable world of trying to be creative.”

Currently in the midst of a host of festival dates, before heading over to the States for some shows later this summer, what will the rest of the year hold for Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs?

“A holiday?! Seriously, I’m really excited about the album coming out. I hope that people give it a chance, I hope people listen. And I’m just excited about touring and then sitting down and going ‘ok, I’ve done that, let’s think about the next stage’. But it’s still not out! So i’ve got a little way to go.”

Trouble is available now through Polydor.

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