Following one of ArcTanGent's strangest and most impressively euphoric sets, the powerhouse behind STRAIGHT GIRL sits down to discuss how the Chemical Brothers changed everything, their incredible ATG performance, and searching out collaborators in spite of a harboured imposter syndrome.
Hey Remy! How's your ArcTanGent been so far?
Can I count myself as a highlight? It was ridiculous. I feel like I'm still coming down from it because I was supposed to play in 2019 and then I had to cancel myself. I wanted to release an album for the same time but it wasn't ready. So I like pulled myself off the [lineup] and thought I'd do it next year. Pandemic hit. So it's been like nearly four years of waiting to do this set. Like, lots of people were saying it felt like watching the Straight Girl set was like a huge release of energy — which it was — but it always is for me when I perform. It was really special. Monumental!
My ArcTanGent experience has been amazing. As being like a longtime punter anyway and just like a general lover of this festival, I think it might be my favourite one in the UK, out of all of them. It feels like a really important thing to be part of it.
What makes it your favourite festival?
Legit the people. The people that are here honestly. Like, I've been to a lot of festivals in the UK and played a couple now as well and nowhere has a — I can't think of the words I'm trying to say like — I guess like a just general mutual ease and like calmness. Community! That's what I'm trying to say. The community of it is what is so special. Obviously you get the odd display of peacockery, toxic masculinity kind of bullshit, but it's always kind of pushed to the back a little bit to let everyone have their space and have their time. It is a proper community thing. There's so many places where that just isn't encouraged as much as it is here. I think that's why I love it so much. Feeling like it's equal ground for everyone. I feel it's special playing here.
What would you say is a subject you're an expert on?
Chemical Brothers. I wouldn't be doing STRAIGHT GIRL if it wasn't for Chemical Brothers. I could give my opinions on Chemical Brothers' discography freely for days on end. I've always wanted to be a musician. Always, always always.
So Neil from VASA, he filmed a STRAIGHT GIRL documentary a few months ago, and he interviewed my mum and we did a full on-camera interview... It was really sweet. But he asked something about my history and she was like, Remy was always going to be a musician, always, known it even from when they were like a baby making sounds. So I was wanting to do music, but I'd kind of never had the the ability to manufacture it into anything until I saw the live DVD of Chemical Brothers at Fuji Rock Festival.
They are the pioneers for Big Beat Electro Punk, or even Big Beat Dance Music. They've been going for nearly forty years and they're my heroes, my main inspirations. Their on-stage setup — it's literally just two guys, and they DJ their own songs together, and there's this heavy emphasis on the visuals, but it's just them in a circle with all of their synths in the wall in a circle around them. I was watching it, and it was like, the sound that they make is fucking massive! The things that they do with their gear is incredible. I always knew I wanted to be a front person, but I didn't want to be that token woman fronting a band, you know...
I play piano and I've played since I was seven, but I never thought I could play piano and be a frontperson at the same time. I didn't want to be behind something like that, and not have the freedom to do my frontperson thing as well. So, when I saw them doing that, I was like... I can do everything myself. And I'm going to and it can be as massive as that if I want it to. So watching that DVD, they're so hugely important to me. I wouldn't be doing any of this if it wasn't for seeing that video. I have so much love for their discography.
If your music was going to soundtrack a movie, what film would best suit you?
That's a really good question. I feel an obvious one would be like Tron, but maybe actually something not a movie, more like a video game. Like a Tekken fighting style game, a one v one soundtrack. Listen, I'm going on record right now. If any video game sound designers are reading this, then they can contact me. I'm available all times for video game soundtracks.
What's your favourite song you've ever released?
Inside tea, I hate all the songs I release. I think it's more an imposter syndrome kind of thing. My writing process is really really difficult and I have a really hard time with songwriting. It's like a constant battle for me. I hype myself up to get to the point where I can write a song and then I'll do it for 10 minutes — especially because it's just me and there's no one else. I've never written a song with another person, never produced anything with another person. The furthest it's ever went is my partner Josh, whom I love dearly, helped me write one of the synth parts for [the last song of my set].
I would love to write more stuff with other people, but when you're deeply self conscious, that just doesn't happen. To answer your question, I don't think I could pick one of my favourites that's released because they were released so long ago when I was still under a different name so it feels like now it's moved on. Now I feel like all my favourite ones are ones that have not yet been released.
Who would be your dream collab?
Well, after watching SCALPING yesterday, I was like 'How has no one showed me this?!' Because that's exactly what I want it to sound like. So in my head while watching them, one half of my brain was like 'Oh my god. Oh my god, They're fucking incredible! I'm having the best time of my life' and then the other half of my brain was like 'find someone who knows them! Find someone who can put me in touch with them so that I can get them producing the STRAIGHT GIRL album'. I want to work with SCALPING. I would also love love to do a song with Djamila from ITHICA. We have already exchanged tweets where I was highly singing the praises of their album and I think Djamila retweeted me being like: 'Collab when?'. I'm taking that. Okay, now? Right now? Cool.
What's next for STRAIGHT GIRL?
I'm on tour in November with Benefits. We're doing nine consecutive dates, mid-November, finishing in Leeds.
Find tickets to see STRAIGHT GIRL live (with Benefits from 18/11) here.