2 Bears 1 Love
Thai salad recipes and dancing octopuses aren’t topics you’d expect to cover during the course of your average artist interview, but then The 2 Bears aren’t your average artists. Since the release of their debut album ‘Be Strong’ earlier this year, Joe Goddard and Raf Daddy have amassed an ever-growing legion of fans attracted to their unashamedly positive musical offerings and energetic live shows.
Born out of a mutual love of house, soundsystem culture and jerk chicken, ‘The 2 Bears’ has been a massive success – perhaps more so than either Joe or Raf expected – and has led on to their latest project. ’2 Bears, 1 Love’ is the first time that either have tried their hand at crafting a mix compilation and the results are eclectic, engrossing and thoroughly entertaining.
Here, we discuss the overwhelmingly positive reaction to their album, their dancehall influences and Joe’s tips for the tastiest salad you’ll ever eat.
The reaction to your debut album ‘Be Strong’ was really positive, why do you think it struck a chord with such a wide audience?
Raf: Cuz it’s a mind blowingly good record… (Ha!). Well, it’s not like we have a particularly difficult taste in music, so we tried to make a record that represented all the sounds that we love. In amongst that are quite a few sounds that hopefully people can get their heads around quite easily; it’s not a big challenge to listen to that record. I guess that’s partly one reason.
Joe: It had a real feel – good vibe to it, and at that time it was perhaps a reaction to some of the seriousness that came into the scene. It wasn’t like a particular conscious reaction to anything; we didn’t sit down with a plan to make something joyful because we were particularly angry about anything. I think it comes from the kind of things we enjoy hearing in a club, we’re both suckers for that joyfulness in House tracks and in music.
Raf: Also for me it was the first time I’d made music really and so I was enjoying that. It was the first time I’d written songs as well, I mean you have to write about what you know and I don’t really know much else that I could write about and get away with.
Raf – You’ve said that you never intended to be a singer, so at what point did you think that was going to work?
Raf: Just at the point where we’d done a few things and people seemed to like it really. The title track of the album we did with my vocal as a guide vocal and it was kind of accepted. Joe’s made a lot of records before this one, and the fact that he’d done that and thought it was alright gave me the confidence to carry on and push it a little bit. I wouldn’t say I consider myself a singer still, probably Joe didn’t either even though he’s sung over loads of records. We love big House tracks with a big screaming diva, but I think if we’d have got someone like that to sing the songs that we’d written the record might not have connected in the same way.
Joe: There’s something kind of honest about doing it yourself. Even not being the most polished singer like the two of us, and just having a go does make it human, makes it something that people can connect to.
Joe – you’ve previously said that you like music that has flaws in it so I guess this was an expression of that.
Joe: That is quite important to me. Not something that intentionally has a flaw, but for example, there might be a live recording of a band so they naturally have slight flaws. Keeping a little bit of humanity is really essential in music I think.
Raf: That’s kind of the opposite to what’s happening on the US dance scene, it’s very machine driven and loud. Not that we set out to make a record that was a reaction to that, we just made the music that we like.
Do you think the fact that you hadn’t made music before added a sort of freshness to it, maybe a different approach…
Raf: Probably, I don’t know, it’s hard to tell! Naivety as a record buyer and in music is something that’s really charming and you just get on with it and do it as a feeling. For example, I like crummy sounding punk records where someone’s banged out 20 songs in 25 minutes because they’ve got something to say. It doesn’t matter that it’s scrappy around the edges because as a piece, it works.
So Joe, you’re touring with Hot Chip at the moment. How does that affect each project, how do you manage the two?
Joe: Well, we haven’t had tonnes of time to do Bears stuff lately because of that, but it just means that we’re kind of building up ideas for the next time we get to record.
Raf: It’s quite good in a way. I mean, we did a remix quite recently, and because we hadn’t been in the studio for quite a while we were fresh to it and excited to be working with each other, it felt quite easy. I’m sure making the next Bears record won’t be as easy but it is good to have a break from things. Same I’m sure as when we’ll be making the next Bears records Joe will be happy to have a break from Hot Chip.
Joe: Yeah, it’s an obvious thing that variety is the spice of life!
“Young DJs will play an old House record and a new Dancehall record and a Jungle record, and they’ve got the technical chops to put it together and the audience are up for it.” – Raf
So you’ve both been in dance music quite a while, how have you seen the changes in terms of people’s attitudes to dance?
Joe: I suppose the thing right now is that America is finally into rave, and that’s a weird one. It does feel quite strange when you see these videos of people going nuts in Las Vegas. It’s funny that it takes so long to translate, and I find it strange that for years and years the real architects of Dance music coming from Chicago and Detroit haven’t been able to get gigs in most parts of America
Raf: It’s all ebbs and flows with the perception of dance music, I mean I remember when everybody said it was all over in 1999 when Ministry was about to shut down. I mean it got completely inflated and it wasn’t sustainable so there was a big slump. People talk about the polarity of there being an EDM thing, but in amongst everybody else, they’re playing a bit of everything. Young DJs will play an old House record and a new Dancehall record and a Jungle record, and they’ve got the technical chops to put it together and the audience are up for it. I mean it’s a different thing going to see Kerri Chandler for five hours of deep House, but it all exists quite happily together on line ups and the rest of it.
Joe: One good thing is that if people are interested in exciting new records. Whereas a lot of the innovation is coming from Dance producers nowadays, there isn’t a lot of excitement coming from the more traditional bands who are not producing really well. I don’t want to overstate this, I mean there are good people doing good stuff but innovation is mostly coming from Dance music.
Raf: Or Pop, Hip-Hop, Jamaican music, but yeah, electronic music mostly.
Joe: Dance music is where the more interesting thinkers in music are coming from at the moment.
We’ve been told you both really love your food. Assuming touring allows you to sample amazing cuisines, what’s your favourite food?
Raf: Soho’s good for food actually, get good Sushi there. You get good exploding dumplings at the top of China town. London is really good for food now, there’s loads of interesting, small restaurants.
Joe: That’s hard to answer. I love all Asian stuff, Vietnamese, Thai.
Raf: Whatever’s fresh and tasty really.
Raf: Waterboarding that’s it! Tell me your secrets! The secrets of your innocence! Haha! But yeah, Bear families are going to grow and that’s a really nice thing. Then Hot Chip are obviously touring through the Autumn and I’m going to get along to as many of those dates as I can and we’ll do some after parties and so on. We’ve also got our launch night for this compilation at XOYO with Todd Terry which is brilliant. I’ve been so pleased with how accepted we’ve been by all of these old boys who we’ve loved for so long. Our Rinse show is rolling on, we do that one Thursday a month, 9-11, and obviously we’re thrilled as lovers of London Sound System culture and pirate radio. Pirate radio is also a big part of our influences too, like you’ll be driving across town in the middle of the night listening to the maddest music. I sometimes feel like I’ve dreamt those things and I’ll wake up the next morning and there’s been a drunken cab ride home and this guy is playing something that’s probably like Senegal or from Uzbekistan. That‘s an exciting feeling, thinking “Wow what is this?”.
’2 Bears 1 Love’ is out now on ITH.