Entertainment & Arts

The Ting Tings rediscover their disco roots

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Image caption The Ting Tings have had a difficult few years but are now happy with their new album Super Critical

That's Not My Name was a huge success for Manchester pop duo, The Ting Tings. Released in 2008 from their number one debut album, We Started Nothing, its catchy melody and infectious lyrics propelled the pair on to the international music scene.

After a "difficult time" making their second album, Katie White and Jules De Martino have unleashed their party spirit once again to create Super Critical, a record full of disco, funk and rhythm.

Co-produced by Duran Duran guitarist, Andy Taylor, Super Critical was written in Ibiza.

White and De Martino decamped to the party island after a bit of a fall out with Berlin, the location for their "under-inspiring" second album, Sounds From Nowheresville.

But Berlin didn't suit them for a number of reasons, says De Martino.

"It never really gripped us.

"It's a great city, there's a great art movement there but it's a difficult scene. Me and Katie had been based in Salford and our mates are so easy to get on with, any idea goes.

"But in Berlin there's a lot more classes and levels of people and things have to be done a certain way."

Ibiza, on the other hand, offered them an environment filled with an interesting palette of ideas, time to think and enjoy life.

By the time they had arrived on the island, they had also cut ties with their record label in an attempt to return to the "organic" approach to making music they had in Salford.

"We made a first record where everything worked and then spent two years making another one with a lot of suits trying to tell us what had worked, even though they weren't there," says White.

De Martino's assertion is more candid: "We delivered a difficult record to a difficult record label.

"I'm not taking anything away from [label bosses] and how good they are at what they do. We needed them to go from being an indie band in Salford to a global act.

"But when it comes to writing new records and developing them, we just need not to be involved in that.

"It was never going to happen. I don't regret a minute of it. It freed us to go our own way and to re-learn everything again," he adds.

Studio 54 influence

White and De Martino rented a rural estate near the traditional and charming Ibiza town, Santa Gertrudis and immersed themselves in the local arts scene.

"The Ibiza we went to was like a ghost town and full of interesting characters," says White.

"We had the time to think and get ourselves together. We need that. We're not hit-makers, churning tracks out like a factory. We have to live a bit and then write."

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Image caption The image Diana Ross portrayed in the 70s and 80s seemed to embody all the band wanted from their music

Living in Ibiza, they enjoyed their share of the party scene, but they also went to the clubs to see what was missing.

Hearing dance tracks they couldn't actually dance to inspired them to create an album of songs reminiscent of the sexy music of the late 70s, early 80s and New York's infamous nightclub, Studio 54.

When White happened upon a picture of Diana Ross emerging from behind a curtain into the DJ booth at the club, she knew where she wanted this album to take people.

"Everything about her - the dress, the hair, the make-up - made her look like the most exotic and effortless creation," says White.

"She was so glamorous, so of a moment, so not overdone. If we could get a sound even 5% close to what that picture was giving us, we knew we were on to something."

Meeting Taylor was another "big moment" for them, although De Martino admits they were "petrified" to work with him initially.

"We'd never worked with anyone in the studio before. We didn't want people to see how we argue, how we rip songs apart. But he made us feel really comfortable and he [got] how we work."

Super Critical's lead single, Wrong Club, channels 70s disco vibes through the guitar riffs from beginning to end.

"It's about feeling like you don't fit in - finding someone you can leave with - finding someone like you - finding someone who likes you - even if you can't dance like the rest," says White.

There are other evident influences on the record, such as Gossip and Prince, but Wrong Club, like several others, (Super Critical, Daughter, Do It Again, Communication) is a nod to Chic and Nile Rogers as well as Rogers' recent collaborations with Daft Punk and Pharrell Williams on the hit tracks Get Lucky and Happy.

'Funky and disco'

Rogers, the guitarist famous for his work and prominence during the disco era, has experienced a massive resurgence in popularity since his work with Daft Punk in 2013 and it leads to questions as to whether The Ting Tings have jumped on the Rogers bandwagon, seeking to commercially benefit from the renewed interest in disco.

"It's really interesting because we'd started working on Wrong Club with Andy Taylor and we wrote to Nile and told him we had this track that's so up [his] street," says White.

"He hadn't released the track with Daft Punk and we didn't know that was happening. He asked us to send him [Wrong Club] but something instinctively told us not to. I think it's because we were working with Andy and were getting his influence.

"Andy was hugely influenced by Nile Rogers; Duran Duran made an album with him so we were working with someone who was already influenced by Nile and we thought that was enough.

"When that [Daft Punk] track came out we were happy because it was something we could dance to and something that was inspired by what we'd been listening to as well," says White.

De Martino adds: "Putting this first track out was a choice we made because it's funky, it's one of the first we wrote, it's disco and it says a lot about Diana Ross and the ideas we had when we started the record.

"The [tracks are] not all Wrong Club, they don't all follow that disco path so when you get to the end of the album it's not a pastiche of what went on in the early 70s, early 80s, it's more an influence of [what went on]."

White adds: "We're really happy [with the album] and with the whole process - from the day we started writing it to now.

"We've had an amazing nine months, every song we were punching the air, it's totally our taste in music and we've surprised ourselves with it."

Super Critical is released on 27 October.

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