Andre Leo poses a casual challenge: “Listen to Spiritualized’s Think I’m in Love when you’re feeling good, and when you’re feeling bad. Totally different.”
That’s part of the answer you get when you ask him whether Medicine Boy, his dream noise duo with Lucy Kruger, and specifically their latest album Kinda Like Electricity, is meant to be healing to listeners.
“If they need healing, sure. Songs can mean different things to the same person, depending on how they feel. We hope our songs can be like that.”
Spiritualized is a big influence for them. So’s Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. “[Their albums] Amazing Grace and Push The Sky Away played a big part in our approach to Kinda Like Electricity,” says Leo. “They are both very bare albums. Lots of space, slow-moving songs…”
And last year, Andre and Lucy got to see those bands live. “Seeing them and realising how powerful those songs are on stage gave us the confidence we needed to trust our instincts with this album.”
Andre says that Kinda Like Electricity has a certain feel throughout and in consistent in its energy, “although there are a lot of different sounds and spaced explored on it. There are very human emotions explored that I feel listeners will relate to. ”
The band generally prefers that listeners take in the album as a whole, as opposed to the modern focus on singles.
“It’s a weighty album at times, but a hopeful one.”
And it’s a very personal release for both Andre and Lucy. Both accomplished musicians individually, they find collaborative songwriting quite unpredictable. “Sometimes a song is more one or the other’s. Sometimes it starts together from the ground up. Usually one of us has a tiny idea and we work on it together acoustically before giving it legs in the rehearsal room.”
After that, they tread the line between chaos and control.
“We’re not a jam band, but we don’t like to keep things too controlled either. The drum-machine element keeps it all in check but we definitely paint outside the lines. Travelling and playing different amps is always a bit of a gamble. Pedals react differently to different amps. I’ve got a very, very unpredictable fuzz sound and it can really rip apart a tiny amp if I’m not careful.
As for recording, I always record in the room with my amp. It’s like a dance or sorts between the guitar and the amp. And it’s pretty free-form shit.”
As much as Medicine Boy is a South African band, they’ve recently embraced Europe as a second home of sorts. “It depends what your goal is, but for us, it’s a no-brainer. It’s tough organising these tours but we have met some incredible people out there that have continued to help us.” They’re departing on another Europe/UK tour soon in support of Kinda Like Electricity, and hopes to visit the USA next year.
Medicine Boy will continue to bounce between chaos and control, healing those who need it, and fuzzing… kinda like electricity.