KRAAK FEST 2023 HIGHLIGHTS: Food People
Sometimes you hear bands which - especially after two years of pandemic insolence - you just really want to see in a live setting. Food People are one of those bands: longtime friends Lila Matsumoto, Matthew Hamblin and Greg Thomas have been quietly putting out albums of their improvisations with guitar, violin, tape, stray sounds and sparse vocals. Read about friendship and process (or lucky lack thereof) below!
Your bio states that you’ve been playing together since 2018 but friends for much longer. How did you all meet, and how did you end up playing together?
Matthew and Greg knew each other since primary school, and Lila and Greg met when they were doing postgraduate studies. The idea of playing together came about when the three of us were living in Glasgow in 2016. Our music is rooted in friendship, and the playing and recording together grew out of that. We like to think that this comes across in the tone and texture of what we record. We have friends that we met through music, but with Food People it was the other way round: the music came through the friendship.
With Food People there is a definite sense of improvisation and chance, yet all the disparate instruments and elements seem to come together rather harmoniously. What is your process like? Is it easy to transpose onto a live setting?
We like to think of our music as a collage, where the three of us will build up layers of sound, often independently, and then put them together - admittedly generally with one person starting and then the others responding. Maybe the sense of chance partly comes from the bricolage-type composition but also from the fact that we don't mind ambient noise and a rough quality to our recordings; in fact we probably seek it out. Then again, we like harmony and rhythm which is pretty unusual for the noise/improv scene, so maybe that relates to the point about it all seeming to come together in a particular way.
We're never really reaching for anything edgy or ostentatiously conceptual with Food People, though I guess we're informed by various avant-garde approaches. Lots of music we listen to has friction and tension, which are often vital elements for the musicians, but it'd be disingenuous for us to make anything different to the (hopefully not straightforwardly) joyful sounds we put out considering we have such a good time playing together.
Despite not having played together for that long, you already have quite a few releases under your belt. How important is releasing music versus playing live to you, or is there no real distinction?
Matthew is kind of insatiable and he always needs to have a record on the go, hence the relatively busy discography. We’d like to play more gigs but Greg lives in Glasgow and Lila and Matthew live in Nottingham with their baby daughter so it's not always easy to get together. Because we've found a good formula for putting together records without being in the same city all the time, we can normally build up records over a period of months while doing other stuff and then come together to play. We like playing live too, but it's just harder to do. But we keep at it!
What does the future hold for Food People? More releases, more shows? :)
Our album Many Glorious Petals is coming out as a vinyl on Feeding Tube very soon and we’ll be playing some gigs in the UK in the summer. We’ve just finished another record and we hope to release that as a tape.