Sydney-based act, Jack Glass and Chris Stracey aka Bag Raiders, first unveiled their tropical disco / synth-pop sound to the world in the mid-2000s, with a stellar hour long mix. Since then, the pair of talented musicians have gone on to release one spectacular album, a number of EPs, and even remix work for artists, such as Kimbra, Cut Copy, Kid Sister, and Midnight Juggernauts.
Today, the Australian group stepped away from their touring duties to chat and answer a few questions around their humble start, the contemporary music scene, and more. Check out our interview with them below.
FS: So, B-A-G-R-A-I-D-E-R-S. Tell us your story – how it all started. I remember a certain mix from 2005, with Bag Raiderzzzzzzz on it.
BR: That’s where it all began! I think it was 2006 or 2007, but you could be right, it’s all a bit hazy from back then… Basically, with our good buddy Gus da Hoodrat / Dreems, we made a mix CD, we raided the bags of a whole lot of other DJ friends, our parents, whoever. That’s where the name came from and it kinda stuck…we put that original mix up on Soundcloud a couple of years ago, if anyone wants to check it out!
FS: So, humble beginnings, right? Well, 2005-07 is what we like to call “the golden era” for indie electronic music. Greats, like yourself, MSTRKRFT, Justice, etc., all started making marks on the musical world then. How have things changed since that magical time? And, do you like the change?
BR: Yes, it was a good time, very inspiring. I think things have changed, both for better and worse, since then. The way people digest music has changed, and that in turn has changed the kinds of music people make. I’d say it’s probably easier to get internet famous now, but harder to kinda sustain that for any length of time. Obviously, there’s been a whole bunch of shitty EDM out there – especially in the US – that we’ve tried to stay away from. But, I think as a result of that, there’s a sort of backlash where a lot of musical, interesting, emotional dance music is coming to the fore, and that’s a very good thing!
FS: We can definitely agree with that! It’s quite unfortunate that there’s so much bad music out there though…it makes it that much harder to find the hidden gems. Well, we’re glad the new year is in swing, and you’ve certainly released some brilliant tunes as of recent – Checkmate and Friends Inside are our favorites, thus far, though Shooting Stars holds a special place in our hearts. Anything special set to be released in the near future?
BR: Yes, we have an album all wrapped up and ready to go! I think we’re looking at a late May / early June release. Can’t wait!
FS: Wow, that sounds amazing! Keep us posted. So then, let’s talk about your studio. What kind of gear are you guys using to produce? Tell us all about the different drum machines, synthesizers, outboard gear, etc. you use throughout the production process.
BR: We use Ableton as our DAW and we have a whole bunch of analogue gear. Too much stuff to go through it all here! But basically, we try to get out of the box as much as possible. Whether that’s using hardware synths (old and new, Chris is getting into modular stuff in a big way right now!) or just playing instruments live. Between us, we both play most things, so our bases are pretty much covered. We also try to use outboard reverbs and fx, lots of guitar pedals. Anytime you take something out of the box, it feels a bit more real! Oh and the UAD stuff is amazing, we have 4 Apollos!
FS: So, that’s how you achieve your unique sound! Quite brilliant. Onto your DJ sets – other than your own work, what have you been playing out at live shows? Any specific artists that are impressing you at the moment?
BR: Lots of Purple Disco Machine, HNNY, Doc Daneeka, that kind of stuff! But honestly, our DJ sets are kinda always different. Sometimes, we play super summery, pool party vibes, [while] other times we get very african and percussive, deep in the jungle…
FS: Ah cool! What about some highlights from your career? We know you are both on tour now, so I’m sure you have already had some memorable moments. Talk to us about some of your favorite experiences from touring.
BR: I think any time we get to travel somewhere new and play music for people, it’s a highlight. Right now, we’re on a very long bus tour of the US, going to a whole bunch of cities we’ve never been before. We love eating, drinking, making new friends. I think we’re pretty good at that as a band. We don’t tend to lock ourselves in the tour bus or hotel room, we get out there and try to see what’s up in the city we’re in.
FS: Well put. Traveling the world and dishing out some incredible sets doesn’t sound like a bad idea to me. Now that you’re both veterans in the game (10+ years), what’s the next step for Bag Raiders? And, what advice do you have for upcoming producers out there?
BR: Right now, it’s all about this tour we’re on, then touring in OZ, then the album will come out, and after that, who knows?! I would say the most important thing a young producer can do is not be too precious about their work. Just get it out there and beat it next time around. Too many people get stuck trying to make the perfect first release, when usually that’s not gonna be what defines you as a band / artist anyway. We play Fun Punch (our first release) in our live show at the moment. It’s super fun to play, but it’s so raw and messy, every time we do it I think, “holy shit, we knew nothing back then!”
FS: Wow, that’s an interesting perspective on musicianship. Well, thanks again for taking the time to chat and good luck on your tour!