WORDS RACHEL EDWARDS - PHOTOGRAPHY LIZA MOLNAR
The name reads like dripping honey. Slow and sticky. Nat and Jules are a bit like honey too. The pair have managed to slip through the manufactured mass of modern musicians, existing free of artificial colours and flavouring. Since meeting one fateful day in a cafe on Broadway Market they’ve been creating their own reality through music. Flash forward a year and they had created the world of Ttrruuces. A world void of rules and filled with magic. A place where you can reach the corners of your mind that you didn’t know existed - somewhere you can momentarily escape the mundane and experience something mind-blowing. Like all great power couples they finish each other’s sentences seamlessly (and do this without making me want to throw up). A lot of artists have lost momentum by their second album - not Nat and Jules. By the end of the interview I get the feeling that they have multiple worlds to share with us - we just have to wait to watch them unfold.
Rachel Edwards: Give me a bit of background - how did you guys first form Ttrruuces?
Jules Apollinaire: We’ve been playing music together since the day we met!
R.E: Where did you meet? Set the scene.
Natalie Findlay: We met at La Bouche on Broadway Market. Jules used to be a waiter there and I used to really fancy him so i was trying to get him to serve me coffee when I came in but he never noticed me...
R.E: Did you pick up on it Jules?
J.A: [Laughs] I feel really bad but I don’t remember except the day we met and that day was great... I gave you free cheese and then we were like we should hang out!
N.F: And then the same day we bumped into each other so we were like “ LETS HANG OUT NOW!”. It was a sign from the universe.
R.E: That never happens!
J.A: At first we were just friends and we made lots of music and then Nat lost her flat and she moved in in mine that I couldn’t afford anymore so it allowed us to stay on Broadway Market which was our Home. There was only one bedroom so at first we were like “okay, you take the couch sometimes” but in the end we shared the bed and for the first five months we literally were just friends we’d be like “goodnight friend”. But then slowly, slowly.
N.F: A few little hugs...
J.A: And the beauty in this is that by then we’d already made so many songs together and we were genuinely friends since months which gave a beautiful foundation to everything that followed
R.E: When you first met did you have the same music taste?
N.F: Pretty much.
J.A: We both loved the '60s, both were (and still are) obsessed with bands like The Beatles/ The Velvet Underground... that’s the basis, but I discovered so many artists thanks to Nat and very fast we started making our own songs.
N.F: Yeah it was a good chemistry musically.
R.E: When did you form Ttrruuces?
N.F: We were already together and we’d done a record together for Findlay (Natalie’s Solo Project) but we were like “we need to start our own thing together and get more crazy and experimental”.
J.A: I don’t even think we wanted to be experimental, I think there were just all these songs that kept coming and at some point we naturally needed a project to make them exist.
At the time we found the London music scene quite boring and often corporate, [we've] met so many artists who are detached from their music. The session gets booked by the manager and then it’s being produced by some older dude and then it gets sent over to the mixers, at the end the process is so unpersonal... that whole thing bored us [so] we wanted to shake things like “fuck that, let’s do something that we love you know?”. And one day we wrote ‘Sad Girl’ and that started everything. We wrote that song and then we were like “that’s truly exciting”.
N.F: We straight away had the idea of writing a whole album around this character and what journey we can take her on. And then we thought “we need another character, she needs someone to go on that journey with”, so we came up with the ‘lost boy’. Once we had those two people in our heads we decided we’d make them meet while looking for a fictional drug [Ttrruuces] and then created a whole world and concept around this idea. Early ideas and demos came all came together quite quickly and we went to Brittany in France for a year and made the album the two of us, and came back to London with it finished.
J.A: When we finally played it to people we realised that with Ttrruuces the reaction was always very strong, it’s a project that makes people think and the music really connects, people were like “fuck no one does that”.
R.E: It’s very distinct! You hear a song and you know it’s you straight away.
J.A: But at the same time it’s very eclectic and that’s what’s good about it I think... because it’s all over the place and it’s us and that’s why it’s so fun, it’s limitless and complete freedom and that’s in the DNA of the project.
R.E: Were there elements of yourselves in the characters when you were coming up with Sad Girl and Lost Boy?
N.F: Oh definitely, there’s definitely a bit of all our past experiences in each character. I’ve been the sad girl but I’ve also been the lost boy as well. And the same with Jules.
J.A: Even though the concept seems really thought out, the making has been super spontaneous, the characters slowly took a life of their own during the writing and the songs is what slowly shaped the story. The beauty of it was that we didn’t have any outside personal feedback or anything so the only purpose was us loving what we were doing and then eventually it grew and we were like “ok we have an album”.
R.E: And as you were coming up with the world and the story did you always know you’d base every music video showing this from the start?
J.A: Yeah that idea of making each video a section of the whole story that eventually will become a full movie came early on, and now we have one more video to shoot and the movie is complete.
N.F: When we figured out this isn’t just a straight forward collection of songs, they all connect to each other - it’s a story, it’s a rock opera - I dunno why people are still afraid of the word ‘rock opera’.
R.E: I’ve actually never heard of rock-opera before.
J.A: Rock-opera... it can kind of makes you think of the '60s, but that’s not what we do, it’s really more of a concept album because it’s not really within any box. its really has its own shape and no other bands out there do that. There’s a line we’ve been following from the beginning and at the end we made it our own format.
R.E: How did you cast Liza and Basti as Sad Girl and Lost Boy? Did you have them in mind?
J.A: We always imagined someone looking like Liza before we found Liza… We knew she would be blonde and petite.
R.E: It couldn’t be anyone else, it suits her so well!
N.F: I think I was going through Instagram randomly and I saw a picture of Liza and I was like “Jules… I’ve found her”.
J.A: We met Liza many times and then that night we both had the feeling she would be so we got in touch with and since then it feels like the concept really took life because there was finally a face to the character of our Sad Girl. That changed everything for us - having our 2 characters take life, meeting Liza and Basti
N.F: For the character of the Lost Boy, we were looking to cast him and Izzy who directed the Disco Video told us “I know a guy, you should meet him and hang out because I think he could be really good” and that’s how we met Basti, he came to our studio and listened to the record, loved the music and the idea
J.A: After five minutes with him we knew he was perfect.
N.F: He’s almost too perfect – he's truly a lost boy. Although when we first met him he was even more lost than he is now [laughs]
R.E: Now he’s found boy.
J.A: [Laughs] Yes and they were our first videos and we were finding our marks but then time passed and we all became family. I think when we met Basti he was living in London and he was really more extreme and now he’s become such a powerful mature being, completely blossomed. Same thing with Liza as well...
R.E: Yeah she became a powerful mature being
J.A: Laughs] I can clearly see the evolution that we went through together. They were growing in real life while they were growing in the story of TTRRUUCES, their real life chemistry grew a lot as well after so many videos together.
Liza Molnar: I was so shy, I couldn’t speak to him or anything at first.
J.A: And that’s what’s great! That’s how the Sad Girl would be inside the story. I think the trip to the isle of wight we took all together to do ‘Bad Kids’ video was great because it allowed that sense of shared adventure together and we became more of a family;
N.F: That was so much fun, I’m going to be so fucking sad when it’s over.
R.E: When you do another album will you have a new world or is it going to continue on?
N.F: I think the next album we don’t want to do a concept record but we’re leaving it open.
J.A: I guess we’re at that stage now where we have lots of new songs but we don’t call it THE second Ttrruuces record because we know that the day we do we’ll enter a vortex of six months or one year of digging deep into that new record and right now we’re letting it come naturally. If we knew we’d continue with the same story, it would feel like we have rules and be less exciting now we have done it once.
R.E: You’re avoiding rules. I’m guessing you guys found lockdown quite easy then because you already live in a non-structured way.
J.A: Well TTRRUUCES is an anagram of structure.
R.E: [Laughs] Really? oh my god! I was wondering why the C E S didn’t get double letters!
J.A: [Laughs] The word structure… I wrote it down and I played with it and I saw the symmetry and wrote the word down. Nat saw it one day and was thought it looked cool. Plus it makes lots of sense that the word is structure… We fucked a lot with the structures of the songs in the album, and there’s a structure to the story within the album and Ttrruuces has been the structure in our life in the last year and a half now.
R.E: They say never mix business with pleasure… how has that been?
J.A: I mean if we agreed with that statement we wouldn’t be here! Maybe don’t do it if you started with business but we started with friendship so then it’s infinite.
N.F: Yeah we never sat down like “let’s write an album to make money” or anything.
J.A: Yeah we’ve never seen TTRRUUCES as a business. The less business in our life, the more creative we feel really. There’s clearly a moment for artists where if you have a big team and you’re doing all the business and Zoom calls-
N.F: -It sucks the creativity out of you.
J.A: Imagine being a painter and doing a painting and then having someone you have to show it to telling you to tweak your colours or your style… We can only truly create if we make music without any purpose other than making amazing music, just because we love it. When we feel an album is ready, then we’ll naturally find the right team to put it out but we are very happy not to have an A&R on our backs right now asking for “one more hit”. [laughs]
R.E: Having too many voices can completely change the message you want to deliver.
J.A: When we met our current label the album was already finished, and we would not have worked with them if we didn’t have full creative control... Luckily from A-Z we’ve done the album we wanted, the videos we wanted, with who we wanted, when we wanted. So that’s been amazing you know?
N.F: Complete freedom! Also today there is so much pressure for artists to be not only creatives and content creators in their field, but to also be influencers, activists, constantly putting themselves out there online. I find all that can be really destructive to creativity. I just want to make music basically, to put my life into music, not an algorithm.
J.A: The world is ruled by people who don’t do their job properly and eventually labels too…
R.E: And then it changes what you’re striving for because you’re striving more for numbers rather than the art you’re producing.
J.A: It’s a veneer, it’s not real life, I didn’t grow up with the internet but I think growing up in the Instagram culture where you’ve been doing that since you were a teenager can be dangerous for your self image.wanna do tomorrow........ Keep it open, stay free!
R.E: Yeah you can change and evolve.
N.F: It takes time to make art and write songs and I feel like the way the industry moves you’re expected to release a single every month with an intro that’s so good that no ones going to skip it on a Spotify playlist. Fuck that, let’s just write music and make it good and send it out without pressure.
R.E: There’s too much pressure and expectation on being this perfect human being.
N.F: It’s a veneer, it’s not real life, I didn’t grow up with the internet but I think growing up in the Instagram culture where you’ve been doing that since you were a teenager can be dangerous for your self image
J.A: It’s true that some of the best artists I love are private, they’re introverts and they’re sensitive.
N.F: I have to keep some things to myself otherwise who am I to myself?
R.E: I think you can lose yourself when every aspect of your life is for show because the mirror starts to become a filter...
J.A: That’s why it’s important to detach sometimes, take your time and keep it about the music. One of the big challenges for our album was to try deliver a vision that’s not straight forward, in a personal way, and so people really get it. Maybe some of the people who listen to our music don’t really know the depth of our Album and the story and it's alright because we didn’t really want to force the concept onto people. But for the ones who really want to find it and dig, everything is there.
N.F: I think once we’ve finished the last video and you can watch the whole movie as a piece... we’re hoping that’s going to make more sense to people who will discover it.
R.E: I think it’s nice that people can stumble upon a video from the middle of the story and then go back and watch them all from the start.
N.F: And there are Easter eggs throughout everything that means you can watch the videos many times and still discover elements that come back in each of them or that tie them together. Can’t wait to have the movie finished!
R.E: You have to screen it all somewhere.
N.F: We will. I think we’ll do a friends and family screening here.
J.A: And then we’ll do a few screenings in small cinemas and we definitely wanna do a few gigs where we play in a cinema with the movie projected behind us.
R.E: You should make everyone dress up either as a sad girl or lost boy. A room full of people who are sad and lost. Make sure there are signs going to the toilet the wrong way to confuse people.
J.A: Yeah when we did the last gig… We did a full Ttrruuces themed party where there were scientists serving blue drinks in pipettes and you had to take the drug (placebo of course) to enter the venue… There were lines of blue powder in the bathroom with signs saying ‘do not snort’ [laughs] it was amazing.
R.E: Did anyone snort it?
J.A: Yeah, of course Basti (the real-life Lost Boy) did!
N.F: When we do a gig, we want to give a deep immersive experience. You’re in the world with us.
J.A: Take people on a mad experience into the world of TTRRUUCES, as much as possible in smaller venues, but we would love to put those ideas on a bigger scale.
R.E: It feels like you could have a whole festival.
J.A: why not [laughs] for now the next gig is at the ‘Moth Club’ on the 23rd of October.
R.E: Are you excited?
N.F: Yeah it’s been a year and a half late now! We’ve not toured our album at all.
R.E: If you could fly anywhere to play a gig now that lockdown’s over, where would you choose?
J.A: I’d do a Paris gig.
N.F: I’d love to go to Italy just cos I’d love to go on holiday there so if you could throw a gig into that.
R.E: Yeah sing a couple of songs… you could just go there and sing some karaoke.
J.A: [Laughs] That used to be the great thing about our life - the touring aspect when you’d get to go everywhere. We’ve only ever done 5 shows with TTRRUUCES, ‘Sensations of Cool’ was the first radio single and it came out during lockdown. Everything has been done without being able to play live to people and see a physical reality to things.
N.F: Yeah we spend weeks and weeks putting the songs together live, practicing…
J.A: A song like ‘The Disco’ makes so much sense to play it live. So definitely looking forward to that.
N.F: We are now into the writing of the 2nd album but at the same time I'm like “fuck I never gave this one a proper tour” so we’ll make sure to tour it as soon as we can.
J.A: The touring aspect usually comes when you’ve just released a song and now the songs have been out for almost a year without a single gig.
R.E: At the same time it’s still the perfect album for coming out of this crazy year because it’s still this uplifting, exciting album.
N.F: I think more people are discovering it now than when it just came out which is cool to see everything growing up constantly. So when we do tour we’ll have a bigger fanbase than right at the beginning so it balances out.
R.E: Is the next album a similar sound?
J.A: It’s still open… we take our time. Ttrruuces is really a passion project, there’s no sense of rushing.
N.F: We might put out a few singles in between albums to keep the momentum going. I don’t believe you should do an album then wait two years then release another album. If you’ve got some music you wanna put out you should put it out.
N.F: We’ve been doing some really cool collaborations as well which has been super exciting.
J.A: But when it comes to album two, It has to be away from our comfort zone and that’s what we’re trying to find right now. You don’t wanna be using the same kind of drum sounds as the first album, reinventing yourself is so important to keep things fresh and exciting.
R.E: So Ttrruuces is about finding a mind altering drug. What if you could invent a drug that could do anything what would you invent?
J.A: Good question… I guess it would be a little touch of the love aspect of MDMA, with a little bit of the visual aspect of LSD with a little bit of the chill aspect of weed … that would be nice.
N.F: And no comedown!
J.A: You need a comedown! You need to feel bad about it the next day. You don’t wanna get hooked on that drug. Let the comedown be so bad that you make it rare.
N.F: I was thinking I’d love to have a drug that made me invisible or something.
J.A: Or fearless.
N.F: Or super clever like the drug in 'Limitless'.
R.E: Ok I’ve got some literal questions about the songs as well. So ‘Bad Kids’ - were you bad kids when you were younger?
N.F: Yeah I was horrible
J.A: Full on Bad Kid
R.E: So ‘Sensations of Cool’... what’s the most uncool thing about each of you?
N.F: We really like shit cheesy romantic comedies that are really uncool. The more shit the better.
R.E: I can relate to that.
J.A: I do love a good cheesy rom-com.
N.F: I get really excited about household stuff. We just bought a new bin and I was really excited about it… or new tea towels.
J.A: I still have my teddy bear and sleep with him every night.
R.E: [Laughs] Did you sleep with him every night when you started living together?
N.F: Yeah he did, I was like “what’s this weird little bear that’s always in the bed?”
R.E: Does he have a name?
J.A: Good old Louis… he’s got a cameo in the next video.
R.E: ‘I’m Alive’ - have you ever had a near death experience?
N.F: I once took synthetic acid and thought I was dying, I had the worst trip ever. I was puking and looking in the toilet filled with puke and I thought it was a worm hole that I was being sucked into. That was horrible. It was like ‘Trainspotting’.
J.A: Nope, I’ve been pretty alive all this time - touch wood.
R.E: If Ttrruuces was a food what would it be?
J.A: Blue slushie
N.F: Or a blueberry muffin.
R.E: Why something blue?
J.A: Blue is the colour of this Album, the colour of the drug.
R.E: What does the colour blue mean to you?
J.A and N.F: Ttrruuces.
R.E: What’s the future of Ttrruuces?
J.A: Making the next album, touring the first one and finishing the last video of the movie.
N.F: At the moment the songs that are coming together are really great, we’re super inspired. We’ve also been loving doing collaborations with other artists and friends lately which is exciting. And I’ve just finished the second album for my solo project “Findlay” which I’ll be releasing next year .
R.E: It’s exciting! Thanks guys!