Interview: Limpet Space Race

Oxford-based experimental pop duo Limpet Space Race unveil their hypnotic debut single Cartograffiti. 

Constructed of masterfully-layered rhythms, vocal swells and innovative electronica, the track explores themes of immigration, separation and being defined by invisible lines seen only on a map. 

Keen to find out more about LSR’s various projects – including sound installations, running a record label and organising a festival  – I had a chat to Jakes and Niko to find out more… 

Hey guys! How did you meet and start making music together?

We’ve both lived in Oxford for a few years doing music stuff but finally met properly through organising a festival and bonded over a love of weird bands.

We started Limpet Space Race about a year and a half ago now. We’d both been in bigger bands and were excited to see how much noise we could make with just two people – all live, no loops or drum machines or whatever. Niko plays drums/guitar/electronics/very occasional clarinet and Jakes is on vocals/keys/guitar/various bits and bobs. 

Loving your new single Cartograffiti. How was the song written and what was the recording process like?

Our writing process is quite jam-based and mixes pop with homemade instruments, electronics, math pop and prog. Cartograffiti was the first song we made together – the name is a made-up word about drawing on maps.

The song grew from words Jakes wrote when one of her mates got deported. It explores borders, separation, stories from refugee friends, Nikò’s Italian/French/British-ness and the media obsession with immigration. It’s about being defined by invisible lines and having to fight to exist in-between them.

Our recording process is always a bit experimental as we run a studio, so have loads of fun gear, homemade instruments, samples and field recordings to play with! We tend to chuck loads of ideas and sounds in, make a mad version of the song, and then strip it back and decide what to keep. 

What are the most rewarding/challenging aspects of being an experimental pop duo?

Because we work between pop and sound art, we get asked to do some really cool installation projects. We recently got commissioned to write an electronics, surround-sound and orchestral piece exploring climate change and erosion for the Ashmolean Proms, and we’ve just been asked to create something for Audiograft – Oxford’s sound art festival. It’s super fun, but also a proper challenge to reinvent our sound in a new way.

I see you run a studio in Oxford, produce music for film, run a festival and record label… the list goes on! What’s it like running so many projects?

Yes! We do audio production for music, film and documentary and have just opened a new studio and venue space in Oxford with Fusion Arts.

We’re also at the heart of lots of voluntary projects – a three-day music festival, a label and artist collective, music residentials and lots of gigs. It’s pretty manic but the best! We get to meet so many awesome people.

If you could collaborate with anyone in the world, who would it be and why?

We love Mark Guiliana collaborations under the Beat Music banner – mad beats that explore all sorts of different sounds and groove in a such a strange, satisfying way! We’d have to do some serious practice to join their jams though!

What’s coming up next for you? Any live shows we should watch out for?

We’re releasing another single and video Half Light soon and working on some new tunes!

Our next London show is supporting our Upcycled Sounds Records label mates Jay Sunaway for their EP launch on October 3rd at The Harrison.

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