Following EPs and 12”s on Wolf + Lamb, W+L Black, Life And Death, Bang The Box and their debut on Visionquest, PillowTalk present their debut LP, ‘Je Ne Sais Quoi’. As much a soundtrack to long nights as it is lazy days, there is something about the record that spans everything you want from the band: sun-splashed jams, peak-time party tunes and low-lit moments of intimacy.
The album has been a work in progress since the boys formed the group in their San Francisco studio and was recorded last year during a month at PDX Studios in Portland, Oregon, which sits overlooking the city and the gorgeous Mount Hood. It was a session that allowed the band to work communally, drawing from various ideas, as well as influences, which include the vast Americana of Bruce Springsteen, the wrought post dubstep of James Blake, the deep soul of Sam Cooke and the incendiary jazz of John Coltrane.
‘We All Have Rhythm’ is an anything-could-happen-tonight tune that you’ll want to be listening to at 11pm on a Friday; ‘Lullaby’ is the perfect dose of deepness for a loved-up 6am dancefloor; the off-kilter R&B ghetto tech of ‘4 Walls’ will fit the vibe at a woozy afterparty; and ‘LA To The Bay’ will rouse you and make you feel good the morning after as the sun comes up. This is music to suit all times, because that’s what PillowTalk is all about.
The broad nature of ‘Je Ne Sais Quoi’ came about because Sammy D (vocals), Michael Tello (producer) and Ryan Williams (multi-instrumentalist) pulled the record together from melodies thought up while on long plane journeys, impromptu jam throw downs in Berlin apartments and musical sketches created during long nights into early morning studio sessions sharing bottles of vodka. For instance, ‘4 Walls’ happened during a late night session, with the band throwing ideas around and with friends DOP and Navid Izadi. “We wanted to do something that wasn't a 122bpm 4/4 kick drum track, challenge ourselves musically and lyrically, so we made the song at 144 beats per minute but still gave it a soul vibe,” says Michael. The song took an hour and a half to write, whipped up in the heat and energy of the moment.
This organic way of working was what brought PillowTalk together in the first place. They formed after the three were mucking around on the baby grand piano in Ryan’s kitchen. A guitar and a Wurlitzer, some off-hand vocals, were thrown into the mix in true Doo-wop style. The EP, ‘The Come Back’, dropped on Life And Death in 2011 with their hit single 'Soft' and things started to roll.
Breakout hit ‘Far From Home’ on the ‘Far From Heaven’ EP in the same year was followed by the cheeky ‘Soul Edits’ 12” for Wolf + Lamb’s W+L Black imprint in 2012 which featured their classic remix of Bobby Hebb's, 'Sunny'. Then in 2013, the single ‘Lullaby’ backed with ’We All Have Rhythm’ dropped, giving a clear indication of how ‘Je Ne Sais Quoi' would sound: warm, lush and dreamy.
Though they’ve only been releasing records since 2011, the three have known each other for years. They met through djing parties and have been neighbors and even roommates. ‘Je Ne Sais Quoi’ sees them stepping into their own as a band, a statement of intent born from the highs and lows of their loves, laughs and heartbreaks thus far.