Waifs & Strays are a duo born out of diverse musical backgrounds but brought together by a love of house music, pure and simple. They have had a string of releases in 2011 including “Yeah Yeah,” What you Want” and “Heartbreak.” We caught up with the guys recently…
Tell us a bit about yourselves for those who don’t know you
We are Amos Nelson and Rich Beanland of Waifs & Strays from Bristol and we make house music!
Where did it all start for Waifs & Strays?
I (Amos) Started producing about 4 years ago and needed some help with a track that I was doing and then a mutual friend of mine and Richs’ put me in touch with Rich saying he would be able to help. We just got in the studio together, hit it off and decided to work together. He came from a slightly different background than me, he came from a more dubstep producer background, whereas I have been promoting and DJing house music for a long time before that and so it was a bit more of his technical knowledge from being a producer before and my kind of knowledge of being on the house scene for ages and then it kind of went from there.
Rich, do you still hold a passion for dubstep?
The kind of Dubstep producers I (Rich) used to listen to was Boxcutter, El B, Burial, Various Production, rather than the Skream / Benga stuff. It’s quite intelligent dubstep and more two step /garage orientated. It’s usually got a really thick kick, and a really fat bass line, that makes people move so that’s the stuff I really liked. The house music that I make is often bass orientated. A lot of dubstep moved away from this in quite a big way, though there are loads of producers that are making great dubstep and it’s become a massively diverse genre. When I moved back to Bristol the people I knew there were all listening to house and at that time house was developing in a really good way. The house music in the last few years has moved into an area that connected with me a lot more – really nice sub basses, really good bass lines and all the rest of the stuff – it was quite a natural progression to start producing house music. But yes, I still have a passion for dubstep, and the technical precision and ideas within that genre are still an inspiration!
Where has the name Waifs & Strays come from?
The phrase is from Victorian times used to describe down and outs or people on the fringes. When we were coming up with a name we really liked that and just went with it!
Is one of you Waifs and one of you Strays then?!
People always assume he (Amos) is the ‘waif’ because he is the smaller of the two! But the phrase is really a description in its own right – we are both waifs and strays!
So you released “3am” last year and it had plays from major DJs, what was that like as your first release?
Amazing! When we made the track it was not the first one we have done but it was about the 5th or 6th tune that we made and a friend of ours gave it to Matt Tolfrey and then out of the blue Matt called saying he wanted it for Left’d (digital offshoot of Leftroom), which was like Wow. Then we got the feedback from all the DJs and looking back down the list there was like Anja Schneider, DJ T, and Laurent Garnier. To say Laurent Garnier likes our record, this is amazing! When you put a lot of work into something and then it comes right, it’s always a good feeling. I think whatever field you’re in whether you are an athlete, a musician or whatever, when your hard work starts to pay off it’s a great feeling.
“Yeah Yeah” has been doing the rounds for well over a year now but it’s finally just been released, did you anticipate it being this big?
It’s strange, when we made it, we had a feeling people would like it because we liked it and when Matt Tolfrey picked it up and started playing it out, the reaction we were seeing on the videos of it being played in Detroit and elsewhere was amazing. Then when Heidi picked it up and was shouting about it on the radio and everything else, we started to think this could be quite a big tune for us. It’s taken a long time to come out, for one reason or another. And how it’s doing now we kind of expected, but if you asked us when we made it we never expected it to do as well as its doing now because you don’t ever really think that about your own music. You just think “yeah this is really great and we really like it and it would be great if other people like it too”. But that’s one thing with dance music, there is no such thing as a sure thing and you have to see what happens when it happens but its been amazing and we have been very fortunate that people have got on board with it and some very big named people have played it out. Its helped us to get a foothold in the music industry and then be able to go forward with future productions. Its very difficult when you are starting, until you have something that gives you a seal of approval, that stamp gives you a bit of recognition from the industry. Until then it can be difficult to get people to listen to your records.
You have a residency at Breakfast club; tell us a little bit about that
Breakfast Club was started by me (Amos) and three other friends in Bristol, originally as an afterhours club. We just felt that the deep house we loved wasn’t really being represented in an afterhours capacity so we decided to do that. Everyone who is involved with Breakfast Club is involved in the industry in one way or another. One person is a DJ manager, one person is a promoter, we are producers/DJs and the other person also works in management and we really wanted to do something a bit different. We also wanted to do parties in interesting places with a slightly interesting music policy, it’s very everything goes, we wanted it to be. So far we have had DJs such as Rob James, Matthew Dear, Alex Arnout, Maya Jane Coles come down. We put Maya in a venue that holds 100 people, and Matthew Dear in a school hall, so that gives you a flavour of what we try to do. Our tagline is interesting parties in interesting places – they are always different sizes and in different locations. It’s not a regular thing, and it only happens when all the right elements come together. So far we have been really lucky that every one we have done has been amazing and it’s something we are all really proud of. We all have jobs that earn us money, and we aren’t doing it to try and make a massive brand out of it – we are doing it purely for the fact that we feel passionate about the music and the scene, and so far it has worked out really well.
What is your favourite tune of 2011 so far?
There is so many really great records coming out at the moment, especially by people we know. Our favourite so far is a track by Coat of Arms, called “Is this something” which is coming out on Futureboogie Records later this year, which is a Bristol label. It’s by a friend of ours Dan, but that’s not why it’s our favourite, it’s a killer!
What advice would you give to any aspiring producers out there at the moment?
Put the hours in! Making music is a learning curve and it doesn’t happen overnight. You have to put a lot of time and effort into it. It’s a lot of fun so it’s not work, but don’t expect to suddenly be like “right I’ve just bought some software I am going to be able to make a massive tune”. It took us three years to get where we are now and Rich had already been producing for 3 years before that, so at the end of the day the advice we would give is “Do what you enjoy doing and have fun with it, but just put some time into it and the results will come through eventually”.
What can we expect from you guys in the future?
At the moment we are at the early stages of everything and we are just concentrating on writing new material, doing the gigs; trying to put on the best show we can for people and just doing more of that. Hopefully we will be going a bit further a field. We are doing more and more gigs at the moment and hopefully that will continue and just carry on enjoying having fun with it because that’s what dance music is all about at the end of the day.