Javelin, an electronic duo from Brooklyn and Providence, R.I., blends beats, melodies and textures chopped from a dozen different places into dance-pop tunes of their own. Whether pitting Future Islands' "Flicker and Flutter" against a twinkling soundscape or dropping '80s drums into a melody you swear you know, Javelin corrupts pop to create it. We spoke with Javelin's George Langford from his home recording studio in New York.
We have grown up on pop, like most people. I cast a wide net when I think about what pop is. To me, it's just anything that people latch onto and like. Anything can be pop, really. That said, I also have a sweet spot for the cheesier, more infectious sides of pop music that we grew up with in the '80s, late '70s and early '90s. I love a good hook. I particularly love when you have abstract music that has hooks—weird music that's catchy. One person that stuck with me for the longest in doing that was Arthur Russell, an avant-garde guy trying to make pop music, really trying hard to make what he thought was the poppiest music he could come up with. Still, a lot of it is very out there. I have super cheeseball blood running through my veins, and lots of times I have to work really hard to make something weirder than it naturally would be just coming out of me. Even then, it's still not that weird.
Collage is very important to us. It's the way we think about the music that Javelin makes. There's no rules; you can do whatever you want. It can be as complex or as simple as you want, and it's often maybe misunderstood. When you're working with sonic collage, most people have a hard time differentiating the sounds. For some people, it's important to know what sounds are originating from your own hands and what sounds are found that you've chopped up. I'm of the opinion that it shouldn't matter, but people like to know about process. For me, I just love the sonic characteristics of chopped-up sounds layered on top of one another.
We've come to the idea that we want to have our performance be a separate form of expression than our recorded stuff. I would love to work on that idea a little more and make it more clear to our audience that, when they come to our show, don't necessarily expect to experience what you experience when you listen to one of our records. It's still a work in progress. We're just two guys, and we work with a lot of pre-recorded material. We're not interested in just getting up there and pressing Play or working behind a laptop where any number of things can be happening and it's not really apparent to the audience. We really work on trying to make it as live and as human as possible while still working with these sounds that are, for the most part, two-dimensional. It's something we definitely haven't perfected at all.
I think of them like musical postcards. They can be cheap and disposable, and they're really quick and easily passed on to people. But that doesn't take away from the fact that the message contained therein can be just as weighty as any high-production record. Javelin uses it as a way to—say we're not in the same place, which is often the case—share demos with each other and show each other what we've been working on. We'll sketch out something, record it to MP3 and e-mail each other back and forth.
Coming out of Providence, it's something to be valued and fostered and treated well because, in the long run, that's the thing that's going to support you. A lot of bands don't have the luxury of coming out of a place where there is a strong community to forge those bonds with people. All the way up, we've been able to make these ties with really good people, really inspiring artists and friends. They've taken us to where we are right now.