Music has always been a natural agent for human connection. What better way is there to enhance that age-old connection than through the use of modern technology? As the internet continues to infiltrate our everyday lives, creating virtual links and bridges across cultural and geographical divides, musicians look to access the web in their endeavor to deliver music to the masses.
Singer Lucas Long, drummer Steele Kratt, bassist Lucas Carpenter, and guitarist Jake Williams of the Bushwick-based band The Britanys have been creatively exploring this concept since their recent rise to notoriety in the New York scene.
“I think it’s just a really hard time to figure out where the outlet is for music right now,” says Long. “We’ve just been playing around with the idea of how to release songs.”
Back in October, Billboard premiered the band’s latest mixtape 1-833-IDK-HTBA (I Don’t Know How To Be Alone).
The eleven-track mixtape, comprised of six full tracks and five interludes, is evocative of alternative bands of the early 2000’s era. Think The Strokes, The Libertines, and The Arctic Monkeys. With their indie melodies, upbeat energy and minimal fuzz, The Britanys produce an effortlessly cool sound. Their songs are laden with nostalgia, and catchy without seeming kitschy. The mixtape was produced by Dylan Chenfeld and the band’s own Lucas Carpenter. Carpenter, who has recorded other new and emerging bands like Gnarcissists, applied his innovative engineering skills to refin the group’s sound. He prefers an eight-track half-inch tape machine and also uses a moviola machine converted to a guitar amp. The moviola-turned-amp is what gives the songs their old radio-like quality.
“I try to keep it all analog,” Carpenter says. “I found that production is sort of a language of its own.”
That’s about the only aspect of the band’s style that remains untouched by modern technology. The interludes on the album feature a myriad of sounds including dial tones and rings, service messages, busy signals, automated options as relayed by a bot, keyboard clicks, camera shutter sounds and more.
Around the time of the mixtape’s release, 1-833-IDK-HTBA functioned as a working hotline. Call the number and you had the option to listen to lyrics, hear demo versions of the songs, and even leave a voicemail.
“Everything is so early on in the evolution of technology,” notes Lucas Long. “More people should be conscious about what we want the future of this world to be like. We’re still playing around with the idea of what sort of virtual spaces we want to inhabit.”
Recently the band made their artistic foray into Instagram’s platform. They’ve created a profile separate from their professional page. The new profile, The Millenium Club, boasts no direct reflection of their music. Instead:
“It’s this idea of opening up a page for anyone who wants to be logged onto it,” says Jake Williams. “It’s sort of a virtual place for people to all belong together. A shared space. The idea that you could create a non-commercial space that isn’t advertising the band but is still somehow related and still something we created.”
The profile lists the password in the bio. Anyone can log on and post what they please.
“Originally, me being the worrier of the band, I was like ‘Somebody is going to steal this, change the password and we’re going to lose it forever,’ Williams says. “Which, you know, artistically would be in line with the idea of it. Someone might hack into your shared space and manipulate it and bastardize it. But so far it’s going strong.”
“Or it’s about to be the Gossip Girl of Bushwick,” jokes Long. “A lot of technology is designed to keep people so separated and it’s really depressing. How can we bring people together? How can we use this platform and have it be more holistic for everybody and not just to post band pics, or be so self-driven.”
It’s easy to call The Britanys “new and emerging,” but really isn’t everyone new and emerging? What sets this group apart from other budding bands is their unmatched focus on the creation and final quality of their music. Their acute attention to the details in their songs leaves listeners with fully-fleshed out experience, a story carried skillfully from the intro, through the chorus, the bridge, and concluding in the outro. A major factor in how artfully the band is able to convey their work is their learned disregard for an outside opinion.
“We have albums worth of material that we never felt was good enough, but I think now we’re just kind of like fuck it, it’s not worth waiting around on,” says Long. “So much is meant to shut down the artist and to shut down the musician, and to make the musician doubt themselves.”
The band has been recognized by Rolling Stone magazine, Billbord Magazine, and Interview Magazine. They’ve played with Foster The People, Hinds, and Wolf Alice. They’ve sold out popular New York venue Baby’s All Right on numerous occasions.
“Nothing anyone can say… not anyone accomplishment is gonna make you fulfilled,” Long continues. “At the end of the day, it’s just about having that belief in yourself. It really just is about coming from the self and coming from within. If you can carry that with you… you’re invincible.”
Ladygunn is excited to premiere the music video for “Under Neon Lights” from 1-833-IDK-HTBA.
“We wrote [the song] when we returned from London, inspired by an illusion of grandeur and the devastation of reality,” says Long. “How the truth can be dressed as something that it is not, how late nights can look better on Instagram and how these nights always feel exactly the same no matter where you are.”
The theme of the music video pulls directly from the song, reflecting the notion that imitation and parroting are now commonplace in art, music, and social media. Given that so much of the media we consume is derivative of previously original ideas, the band decided to create a parody of sorts… poking fun at copycats by copycatting.
photos / Brian Bielawa
story / Mea Cohen
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