62 Miles From Space

Founded in Moscow, ’62 Miles From Space’ is Neil Davidson (samples, programming) and Roman Kutnov (guitar, vocals). Uniquely their collaboration is solely online predominately consisting of virtual instruments. Perhaps it’s this that has created such a beguiling sound and led to support from Gideon Coe at 6 Music. With a newly expanded EP out on Mega Dodo Jason Barnard finds out more – virtually of course!

Hi guys – can you introduce yourselves – how did you meet and decide to produce music together?

Neil: I had been making stuff on my own and putting it on Soundcloud groups; exchanging psychedelic and electronic tracks of no particular style with a small group of people dotted around the world. One of them was some random guy who was basically in the same boat. He’d made a couple of great tracks himself. One was a kind of psych-freakout that sounded like Vanilla Fudge or something. The other was a minimal synth instrumental that sounded like Harmonia or Cluster. So, I suppose I recognised a kindred spirit of sorts. Not only that, but one with no small amount of talent! I contacted him to see if he’d be interested in doing a collaboration. As it turned out, he just lived a couple of miles away! What are the chances? Anyway, that was Roma.

Roma: Yeah, I think it was 3 or 4 years ago. I was into psychedelic, kraut, library music, early electronics and that kind of stuff at the time. I had a bunch of tracks of this style and I didn’t know what to do with them. There’s no place for that kind of music in Russia. Nowhere to play it, no one to listen to it. I mainly produce modern electronic stuff, writing music for contemporary dance performances, multimedia installations and so on. So, I had no serious plans for these tracks and decided to just put them on soundcloud. One of the music blogs I was following had a review of a few songs by “62 Miles From Space”. They were really good so I “liked” them on soundcloud. I think that’s how Neil found. me. I was very surprised when he contacted me, and even more surprised to know that he was living in Moscow at the time.

How did you come up with your name?

Neil: It was originally inspired by a lyric from ‘Out of Sight’ by Spiritualized. I know how prententious this sounds, but the idea that wherever you are in the world, you’re always only 62 miles from space is a really mind-blowing thought. It puts absolutely everything in perspective. I thought it was kind of appropriate for a band which doesn’t actually ‘exist’ at any one time or in any one place. We’re a kind of nowhere and everywhere sort of band.

Roma: At first we wanted another name, since “62 Miles” was initially Neil’s solo project. But then he suggested to use it and I thought why not? A nice name with many connotations and interpretations.

Can you tell me about the 62 Miles From Space EP and the sound you aimed to capture.

Neil: I don’t remember us ever saying, “We should make a record that sound like such and such.” or anything like that. In fact if anything, it was the complete opposite. It was more like, “Let’s just start and see where it goes.” If you listen to the early versions of the tracks, it’s hard to believe that any two are by the same band. We had a bunch of tracks that all sounded pretty different and we actually had to struggle a bit to make a record that was at least semi-coherent. We do have very similar tastes in music though, which kept it vaguely on track.

Roma: We didn’t restrict ourselves in terms of certain sound and style. But it was clear that our music is about time and space travel, so the aim was to capture the mood and the atmosphere of the past. We just took what we liked from the old music, it all came naturally. For example I’m pretty into Syd Barret and his guitar playing, so I tried to copy it in The Scope. Some parts were inspired by old Caribou albums, vibraphone in ‘Time Shifts’ is stolen from Death and Vanilla. The hard part was to focus and construct these songs out of many various ideas we had.

Two bonus tracks have been added to your ’62 Miles From Space’ EP – how do you think this material sits alongside it?

Neil: Well, these are tracks we had started working on individually when we first met. We just wanted to make properly available. We didn’t want to say, “Hey! Here’s our new record!”, when really, it was just playing catch-up though.

Roma: I think all the tracks on this EP are different. The last two just add to this diversity, which is a good thing. I think it is important to point out that we’re not just a couple of retro music fans trying to copy the early Pink Floyd sound. That’s not true at all. We’re a little more than that. I like to see our music as an experiment in space and time travel which all of us experience these days. It happens with the help of the internet and the access to enormous amounts of information.

How do you write and record your material – do you collaborate in person at all or is it all virtual?

Neil: I’m not exaggerating at all when I say that we never once spoke face-to-face during the making of the record. We never discuss our music in detail really, just pass the tracks back and forward; editing, over-dubbing and passing comment on what the other has done. Roma’s my producer and I’m his producer. We just play tennis with an idea until it turns into a record. That can take minutes or months, but it never happens in real time.

Which artists past and present inspire you?

Neil: I think a lot of our influences are pretty transparent. Most reviewers seem to pick up on them quite readily – Air, Stereolab, Pink Floyd etc. (Actually, there’a track on the EP called ‘Bad Actors’, which is just an anagram of “Broadcast” – a somewhat unworthy tribute to a band we both love.)

Apart from those though, I’m a self-confessed krautrock obsessive. I also love 60s and 70s film soundtracks and basically anything to do with vintage synths too. Significantly though, there was a second wave of influence that showed me the way when I started making music; people like David Holmes, Barry Adamson, and Belbury Poly, who had listened to the same stuff as me and found a way to make it work in a modern context. It’s certainly not a purely ‘retro’ thing with me. Just in the past year, there have been really amazing albums from people like Art Feynman, Josefin Öhrn, Jane Weaver and Morgan Delt, which have really captured my imagination.

Roma: For this record I was inspired mostly by krautrock, psychedelia, early electronic music, free jazz and other crazy stuff from 60s, 70s and 80s. Besides that, I’m more into modern electronic music. Techno, ambient, experimental electronics and so on.

What plans do you have in store for 62 Miles From Space – would you consider any live shows?

Neil: I’m ambivalent, to be honest. We did once discuss bringing in other musicians, but ditched the idea almost immediately. Part of that is down to the logistics of the fact that we live in different countries now. Part of it is down to the fact that we’re doing well just working as we are. So, it’s just not what “62 Miles from Space” is – at least, not at the moment. On the other hand though, it’s quite weird to think that these songs never have been and possibly never will be ‘performed’. I’d really like to hear what they’d sound like, so if there is ever a 62 Miles from Space gig, maybe I’d rather be in the audience than in the band.

Roma: What if we could find some guys who would do live shows and touring instead of us? Could be funny.

Neil: A kind of lo-fi, cosmic Milli Vanilli? I think we’d be the only ones in the audience!

And finally, where can people find out more information about you and the expanded EP?

Neil: Well, as this is our first release, I’ll admit our web presence is pretty sparce. A few people have remarked upon how elusive and mysterious we are, but really, we’re not. We just work differently from other bands so it’s by accident rather than design. It’s not difficult to find us or contact us on social media and we do our best to keep people up to date with everything.

The 62 Miles From Space 4 track EP is out now – it is pressed on 12 inches of bright red vinyl in an addition of 250 copies. Two bonus tracks and additional artwork included in download. Further details can be found at the 62 Miles From Space Bandcamp page

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