Interview: Lymbyc Systym

Jared and Michael Bell have seen their sibling tag team grow from a playful childhood project with toy instruments into a hugely respected ambient outfit, touring the world and earning flattering (but deserved) comparisons to names like Four Tet and Tortoise. Their meld of electronic and acoustic is a delicate balance that steps into post-rock borders but their resistance to indulgence makes them one of the few instrumental acts out there that embraces the value of brevity. Akin more to a polaroid that an opus, Lymbyc Systym’s releases from Love Your Abuser to Shutter Release also transcend the quite/loud ambient dynamic for more upbeat sounds and although they thrive under wordless conditions, the brothers had a few insightful ones for us during our tête-à-tête.

Text Hidzir Junaini
Interview Kitty Wu

Welcome back to Singapore! What was the experience like the last time you guys came down?
Mike It was really good! I thought Home Club, compared to some other venues in Asia that we played, is one of the best. Just in terms of great production, good sound and good environment.
Jared As with our first time anywhere, we didn’t know what to expect. So we were really happy with the vibe of the crowd.

What’s changed with the band since your last visit?
Jared We’ve been working on a whole new album and it’s almost finished! So we’re playing all new songs, which will be drastically different.

What’s the biggest difference that fans can expect from the new album?
Mike Our new sound is more straightforward and tends to have less of the soft-to-loud dynamic. We still have those elements incorporated but I think the new songs, despite not having vocals, have a verse to chorus structure. We’re debuting our new stuff now on the Asian tour and it’s the first time we’ve played any of it live.

How’s the reaction been to the new Lymbyc Systym sound?
Jared From the feedback we’ve gotten, our new style is more upbeat, danceable… and perhaps a little more poppy?
Mike Yes, poppy is the right word! The response has been encouraging.

When’s the new album coming out?
Mike We don’t really know; it’s still in the works. The writing is done; all we’re doing is re-recording and putting the finishing touches. Plus, we really wanted to get everything finished for this tour so we could play them live, to refine them based on how they evolve during the back-to-back gigs and the general audience reaction.

You guys have been doing a bunch remixes lately. What got you both started in that?
Mike We sort of just got approached by bands that were our friends, like Arms & Sleepers, who requested us to do remixes for them. We tried it out and I must say it’s been really fun. We want to try doing more.
Jared We take a long time with each one because we kind of approach a remix like doing a cover. So we’ll maybe only keep one or two elements and really rework the whole song with our point of view.

Name us your favourite bands with familial line-ups!
Mike There’s an underground US band called The Slip that I really love! They’re two brothers on guitar and drum with a friend who plays bass. We always saw such a cool dynamic with them. And we really admire Boards Of Canada as well.
Jared The National! They’re really big right now and their last record was pretty awesome. There seems to be brothers in every band now. (Laughs)

Why do you think that is?

Jared It seems like a natural thing I guess, because if you grow up playing music together and listening to the same music, you just play better together.
Mike I do think there’s something to be said about sharing blood and genes, in terms of how it helps with our understanding of each other. In some ways, it can be rough because of that sibling rivalry dynamic, but I do feel that sharing bloodlines and sharing tastes makes it that much easier to create art.

Improve your brain function at www.lymbycsystym.com.