Published Jun 20, 2008Whoevers picking songs for iPod ads sure knows what theyre doing. First, they managed to pick up on CSS, then they latched onto our already beloved Feist, and now theyve gotten their grip on everyones favourite new Brit-pop duo, the Ting Tings. After all the hype that comes with the newly cred-building way to buddy up with a corporation, the Ting Tings have managed to live up to the expectations that "Shut Up And Let Me Go put out there for the masses. Masterminds Katie White and Jules De Martino put their heads together to make We Started Nothing, one extremely beguiling sets of songs. And all, apparently, just for the sake of entertaining their friends after the pair had a falling out with the major label that dropped their former band, Dear Eskiimo. The newly formed twosome have found a way to take simple beats and concepts and mould them together to make songs like "Thats Not My Name thatll have you singing and clapping along to its chant-like lyrics and thumping bass drum. But thats not to say that the Ting Tings sound hollow. This duo make a lot more noise than their name lets on and its the kind thatll get you on your feet, just like that well-known shadowy figure with its iPod.
"Shut Up And Let Me Go seems to be the first thing that people know you for here. Was that at all what you were expecting or what you intended it to be?
Jules: I dont think we intended anything, really.
Katie: We used to be in a three-piece that got dropped from our label. Well, we came out of that totally unconfident, thinking no one would work with us again, being a band that had been dropped. So we wrote the songs just for ourselves and thought no one would care except for our friends. We had no real intentions with it, we just wanted to party with them and get some of the carefree-ness that we were craving at the time because we werent feeling very good.
How did you decide you wanted to give your song over to the iPod commercial?
Katie: We were playing SXSW and wed been playing two shows a day and had to do a third, which we arent used to. Usually one show takes everything out of us. So we were playing our second show and were exhausted and dehydrated and I fainted. But an hour later we had a show and I said, "we cant do the show. I started to feel a bit better and asked if we could do just three songs and they agreed. And that was the show Apple saw us at. I dont think they knew us before the show but they told us they really liked the song. Then about ten weeks later we got a call saying we could possibly be up for the Apple iPod ad.
Jules: We were up for it because its Apple. Theyre about music, basically pairing visuals with music. Its all about machines that play music, and weve got iPods. We were up for the idea; we just said to talk to us and well see what goes on. And then we heard nothing more until we got an email that said, "oh, by the way, they put the Apple ad on last night between Desperate Housewives and American Idol. And now here it is on YouTube. Its great and colourful. It looks really good. But we initially agreed to do it because they support music.
So you wouldnt give a song to just anything?
Katie: No. Weve been offered loads of stuff but wed just do it for stuff were into, stuff we like.
Did what happened for other people who had their songs in those ads play into your decision?
Katie: I dont really think so. I didnt really know much about Feist or how long shes been around, but we werent really aware of it. I think we were just in our own little bubble in Manchester, so we didnt really know if it had made somebodys career or just helped.
Have things been moving too fast for you since the ad came out?
Katie: It felt really fast. Luckily wed finished the album before the craziness started, so its not like we were trying to finish our album in the middle of it all. Our creative time with the album was completed. It feels quite fast, but I dont think its too fast.
Jules: Its as fast as you want to go. We made our own album and had total creative control, so with our management its the same thing. You can take it as fast as you want to take it. It can never be too fast. Because if a band burns out, its because they didnt stop. Its really the bands fault. Its the band that can say, "Im just not getting on this plane, or "I need to be well.
So now that youve gotten all this attention, what do you plan on doing with it in the future?
Katie: We havent really got any plans. I guess for me it would be to get to the point where, you know the band the Talking Heads? Well, theyve got a DVD of a live show and theyre very creative with their live shows. So wed like to get to that point where we can really think about what we want to do with an hour set and have it more like an art project in a way. Keep it entertaining but have more of a concept.
Jules: Well, we do our own artwork and fortunately at this level weve been racing around the world to do these shows, but you dont get to really think about what you want your show to be or how youd like your show to look. So wed like to get to that place where wed have more time and use our artwork more and work more with our artist friends.
Did you just get here today?
Katie: Yeah, well we had to land in London because of the thunderstorm. We were flying and we had to land in London on a tiny little runway with this massive jet squashed up on it. And we sat there for about an hour-and-a-half. And before we couldnt land because of the thunderstorm, but they were quite happy to take off into it again, so I cried. I was quite frightened. So when we landed the whole plane did a round of applause. It was a good introduction to Toronto.
Other than that ordeal, has it been good?
Katie: Yeah, we got off the plane and were mortified and just happy to be on the ground. We went to a diner at like three in the morning called Frans. Its so good. We had the best food there. And we saw two raccoons running down the street! They looked quite frightened because they got separated and I thought, "oh no, theyve lost each other! Is that quite rare?
Ive had people tell me theyve seen them in some of the quieter neighbourhoods but not downtown. Which Frans were you at?
Jules: The one on Victoria Street.
Katie: And they were looking straight at us.
Thats definitely a rarity then. So Ive heard a lot about you guys playing physically on top of your records during your shows. What made you want to do that?
Katie: Well, weve always done something with vinyl. We did this thing with our first record where we took blank seven-inches and put our records in them. So we played a show in Berlin and got the audience in Berlin to put their artwork on them because its so much better than buying a regular record. And then next we bought a bunch more records at garage sales and took the vinyl out of them and turned them inside out and put our own artwork on the front. So say youd buy one, if you looked inside it might be an old Elvis record. Its good fun. We just wanted to take the record everywhere with us, so we were just made a mat out of them and taped them all together and then played on them. So we played in San Diego on them and now they look all battered, like old records. Then we sold them at the next show, the ones we used in San Diego.
I heard you just recently learned to play the guitar. Hows it been playing it live?
Katie: Not too bad. I actually learned about a year ago now. We played our first show after Id been playing it for about six weeks though. Weve played a show pretty much every night for the past year, so Ive had some practice on it. Its weird; I dont feel like a guitar player. Its just this thing Ive got that when I get tired of it I swing it onto my back and dance. I really picked it up because I wanted to make a bit more noise with Jules.
So after your other band folded, what made you want to get back into the business side of things again?
Katie: Well, we didnt at first. We were quite wary of working with a major label again because we had such a horrible time. But we heard from Mike Pickering, who is a Hacienda DJ from London and hes in a band called M People, and he now works as an A&R guy. He took the time to build a relationship with us, so we thought that we could really actually work with him. And when we got our contract we said we wanted total creative control, but we didnt think wed actually get it, but we got it. We just wanted to keep doing what we were doing without getting interfered with. (Sony BMG)