Calm Before The Storm

21 June 2012 | 12:10 pm | Cam Findlay

While the storm that was (incorrectly) slated to erase our small town from existence rolls in, Cam Findlay talks to one half of Voltaire Twins, Jaymes Voltaire, about a much more metaphorical storm endured to reach success.

Conducting an interview while sitting in your car might be awkward at the best of times, but it's especially the case while watching the storm of the ages roll in. So it was when I sat behind the wheel to chat to Jaymes Voltaire, one half of Perth's much-lauded electronic outfit Voltaire Twins. He seems completely relaxed, though – a sure sign that he's happy with the current state of his music, and one that defies the ominous predilection of grey clouds.

It wasn't always so sweet for the Voltaire Twins, though. Coming into the scene in 2008, when the new wave of electro reigned supreme, the then-duo of Jaymes and Tegan Voltaire rode that very specific wave to acclaim, only to see the whole movement collapse around them. “That whole electro thing really just helped us get up and running and really helped us catch some people's attention and respect, but in my mind it probably didn't really help us that much early on,” he begins. “The attention we received then was way, way before we were really ready to be doing the kind of stuff that we were doing at the time. I think we kind of got pulled in to it because that's what really everyone else was listening to. We kind of got panicked.”

Following their single D.I.L., the twins found themselves stuck between the demons of rapid success and ongoing critical appreciation, which led to almost a year of constant touring in order to hang on to the audience they had so quickly built. Thankfully, they were able to harness their sound and abilities and ride out the storm, something which Jaymes pins down to avoiding the genre classification of “electro” as much as they could. “Like, for my ears, the music that we make doesn't really sound much like many other of the electro bands,” he argues. “We were always doing a lot more song-orientated stuff than what was going around at the time. I remember our manager telling us heaps of times that she really struggled to get people to listen to us after a bit, because at first everyone was really enthusiastic about the Voltaire Twins because it was like, 'We're in this electro boom'. Then, when it was over, everyone was like, 'Oh, Voltaire Twins are just like an electro band,' so it was about nine months there where we really had to work really hard to try and get noticed.

“We kind of had a semi-policy where when we booked gigs, and were offered gigs with electronic acts, we wouldn't take them,” he continues. “We would only take gigs with, like, rock bands. It was definitely more of a challenge, and I know a lot of people really work hard for those 'electro' credentials, but I kind of think if we hadn't been called into the electro thing to start with, we still would have had to do that anyway. We still would have had to justify our place.”

Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter

Now that they have well and truly justified their place as a unique group, Jaymes, Tegan and bandmates Jack Doepel (synth, samples) and Matt Gio (drums) are completely willing to further their ideals of creating new and challenging music. Their upcoming EP, Apollo, is the next stepping-stone in the band's development – which also includes a lauded spot at this year's Bigsound Showcase in Brisbane – as Jaymes explains. “I think the writing process has changed a lot, in that when Tegan and I sat down to start writing it, we wanted to do something that sounded pretty different from the last EP. And we wanted to break away from some of our comfort zones, because I think we were starting to feel like… One of the things we felt about the last EP that we wanted to improve upon was having a bit more variety. We really tried to do something a bit more unpredictable.”