If you’re looking for a unique sound from a group like no other, you just found them.
Enter Love Spread, an experimental bitpop project based out of Brooklyn, New York, from creatives Ryota and Narumi. J-pop influenced melodies form the backbone of what can only be described as infectious, high-energy sonic vortexes, the full force of which are felt truly when you have the pleasure of seeing these two play a live show.
With an exploding fan-base in the New York DIY scene and the recent dropping of their first EP, SAYONARA FOREVER, Love Spread is poised for stardom. BTR caught up with the duo for a chat about using video game controllers to make music on stage–because yes, that is a thing!
BreakThru Radio (BTR): Let’s start with a little background about yourself and how you first started making music together.
Ryota (R): So I’m from San Diego, California, and Narumi’s been living in New York for almost four or five years, and we first met at the airport. We have a common friend (my best friend) and they randomly hit me up this one day while I was still back in California, and said Narumi wants to go to California to see a Beck concert. He was like “can you give her a ride up to L.A.”? So I was like, “Okay, why not? I can do that.” So I spoke with you [Narumi] on this Japanese Facebook, and met her at the airport.
I was waiting in the parking lot, and she came, and I was like, “Oh hi, I’m Ryota” and she was like, “Oh, hi, I’m Narumi,” and she just got in my car…which was pretty awkward. I looked pretty shady, she was really afraid at first. I had this huge spike coming out from my lip…But I just dropped her off at the hotel that day. The next day we went up to LA to see Beck in concert, which was okay. You’re [Narumi is] a huge fan of Beck. I was just like, I know them sire, I know “Loser.” At the time I was really into hardcore music.
BTR: So not exactly Beck.
R: I was a lot about that screaming stuff.
BTR: Did you know you wanted to make music together right away?
R: Not really, we just hung out for about a week in California, and I dropped her off at the airport again. After that we didn’t talk for almost two years–we just went back to our own lives. I used to be in another band in California, and when that band disbanded, I randomly decided to go visit New York. I always wanted to go there but I never had the chance. I randomly decided to hit up Narumi, I was like, oh Narumi lives in New York, I haven’t seen her in forever! So I was like, “Hey Narumi I’m going to New York, you wanna hang out?” And I got there and…what did we do again? Oh! We got Chinese food up in Flushing!
BTR: Chinese food in Flushing is the best!
R: It is. I love Flushing. I really wanted to live there actually.
BTR: How long have you two been officially working under the title of Love Spread?
R: We started performing live last winter. I moved here Spring of 2014 and it took us a while to figure out what we really wanted to do. Do you want to do some indie pop stuff or something instrumental? Our first show was in Fall, in one of our friends backyards.
BTR: You guys just released your EP and music video a couple days ago, what was the creative process like?
R: We just wanted to be something really different. That’s one of the reasons we started using video game controllers to produce our music and use it in live performance. Everything kind of got matched out with what we wanted to do performance-wise. We lived together, so we usually just lay all our instruments in our room and see what we can come up with.
BTR: You have a very unique style, tell us more about the video game controllers incorporated into your live shows. We can’t picture that very well…
R: Our video game controllers…Some of them are hacked, some of them go through a script in my computer, and that does a lot of weird stuff. When I press the button, it triggers some sort of effect. When Narumi presses her huge button, it triggers a sample. There’s so much stuff going inside a computer, basically.
One of the reasons I wanted to do that was because I love electronic music, but there were so many situations where I went to see my favorite electronica artists and I came home really regretting it, spending so much money on that show. Some artists do it really well, but most of the time you go to the show and you just see them pressing the pad, bass button, play button, whatever. You just watch that for the entire show.
I come from a live band background. I wanted to be sure that if we’re going to play a show, we’re going to try to be entertaining, and people could feel it was worth it to pay to come see us.
BTR: It sounds like you both play a ton of instruments. Do you both have musical backgrounds?
R: Yeah, Narumi used to play drums and trombone and piano, and I studied music forever. I used to be a jazz player. So when I visited we randomly decided to go to a studio and we jammed. That was fun. I think we rehearsed three times. We went to the studio three days in a row, and on the last day, I remembered I had my laptop with me where I had a prototype like the music we play now. I randomly showed my music to Narumi, I was like, “Oh this is something I’ve been making after I quit my old band.” She told me, “This is really cool. This might work here in New York. Why don’t you move here?”
Because I used to be in a jazz band, I’m not confident enough to be on stage by myself, so I asked Narumi, “Do you want to start a band with me?” and she was down. So I moved back to California. It took about half a year, I saved to move up here.
BTR: How long did it take to put together the EP you just released ?
R: It kind of took a long time because we have so much music. I think just under Love Spread we have about 100 tracks we had to choose from. I just keep writing and writing every day.
Narumi (N): You’re always writing a song…
R: Yeah I’m kind of always writing. It’s like a diary.
BTR: Where did you record?
R: We just recorded in my bedroom. It took a while to choose from that hundred tracks, about three months. We had a sample version of an EP back in September or something, and we were about to release it, but we started writing better stuff and were like, okay let’s get rid of these old songs and we try to record these new ones. Plus we were playing so many shows last year, so it was really hard to just sit down and think about a release. How many shows did we play?
N: Forty or something.
R: We played forty shows while we both had full-time jobs.
BTR: Were you playing around the New York scene or did you go on tour?
R: We pretty much played all of our shows in the city. In Brooklyn, a couple shows in the city, four or five Jersey shows. The Jersey shows were awesome. I don’t know why. We played a bunch of shows in Brooklyn but Jersey shows…they were on the stage. They have that artsy vibe and they all want to be crazy.
BTR: What do you guys have coming up?
R: We are actually heading to Boston tomorrow. I think we’re playing one show tomorrow and hopefully another one on Saturday. We’re also trying to figure out an east coast tour pretty soon. If we can get off from work, that would be awesome. And west coast, that’s pretty doable. We’re also planning to do a tour in Japan. That should be awesome, if everything goes well.