Stuff I listen to on my iPhone: The Ting Tings

13 Nov

[Blogger’s note: Starting today, I am making a regular effort to publish columns and/or articles related to some artists that I listen to on my iPhone. Hence the straightforward name. Though I don’t have an original post for today, here’s something I wrote a year ago while as an intern for Los Angeles CityBeat (R.I.P.), which paid me a comfortable fee of $40.]

Make More Noise

The Ting Tings started everything

By Ed Carrasco

Two years ago, English musicians Katie White and Jules De Martino were out of luck. Their band, Dear Eskimo, which was a trio with a common passion for Portishead, was signed and later dropped from its label without releasing an album.

“We sat there for six months, feeling like shit and demoralized and quite unconfident,” remembers White, the lead singer and guitarist of Salford, England-based the Ting Tings, a duo with De Martino on drums and backing vocals. “We got signed, and didn’t even get our record out, and sat there. I spent weeks trying to get this and just showed them what it was about, and they didn’t even look at it and just pushed it to one side and asked me how much I was going to get my clothes off for these magazines.”

The Ting Tings’ failed efforts and the treatment from record executives brought them to the Islington Mill artists’ residences in Salford, a city next to Manchester, where they poured their frustration into their songwriting.

“Most musicians tend to write their best songs when they’re pissed off for some reason,” she says. “That’s the way most musicians get to write their songs and it totally changed the way I thought about things. It’s those sorts of experiences that gave me that little chip on my shoulder that myself and Jules write songs now because of it.”

Thus the band was born. What came from that period resulted in the creation of their album, We Started Nothing, a 10-track dance-pop treat with looped drumming, novice guitars and lyrics that stem from their years of musical ups and downs. Now with a number one single and album, and one of their songs in the latest iPod campaign, the Ting Tings will bring their infectious sound this Friday to the Troubadour as part of their nine-city tour of North America.

Their second single in the U.K., “That’s Not My Name,” recently dethroned Madonna and Justin Timberlake from the top of the charts. With the catchy loop beats and comparisons to Toni Basil’s cheerleading song “Mickey,” some people who listen to it could mistake it for an upbeat, energetic track.

“People think it’s this pop song, but I don’t think people realize that the lyrics are quite a shock in a way,” notes White. “That’s Not My Name” recalls the duo’s frustrating experiences with a heartless music industry, with White ranting: “Although I’m dressed up, out and all with/Everything considered, they forget my name.”

Although both members of the Ting Tings have had previous musical experience, with White being in an all-girl pop group in her teenage years and De Martino shuffling between bands, it was only last year that White picked up the guitar. Though people have questioned her instrumental talents, she notes that she’s getting better at it and has good rhythm.

“I didn’t want to be a guitarist,” she says, reflecting on criticisms about her inexperience. “I just wanted to express myself and make more noise with Jules, and I think that’s what gets our sound.

“I don’t know how we’re going to write the second album, because things are going well this time,” White says. “If we’re inspired by something to write a second album, then we’ll write a second album. Maybe we’ll stay in fashion, maybe we’ll go out, but we’ll just keep writing until we want to stop.”

Copyright LA CityBeat 2008

Afterword: It was a great opportunity to interview a band that reached the top of the charts, though as an American, it’s hard to understand Katie White’s Manchester accent on the phone. She was lovely on the phone, and hopefully I can interview her when the next Ting Tings album comes out!

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