Arriving at a place where an artist can create without limitation and free from external influence is no easy feat. Escaping London and all its encroaching distractions, Pete Lawrie-Winfield returned to his home in Cardiff to create art he felt was worthy of sharing. Soon after, Pete brought in the likes of James Gordon and Elliott Wall to help create the unique sound of a band soon to be called Until The Ribbon Breaks. Prior to their opening set for Run The Jewels, I sat down with Until The Ribbon Breaks to discuss the band's journey, Romeo + Juliet and much more.

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How are things, since you just arrived in town?

Yeah really good. Been touring a lot this year which has been amazing, toured a lot with London Grammar at the beginning of the year in North America and it was kind of so much fun that with a week to spare, they called us up and asked if we want to come to Australia. We were like "fucking hell, I mean, yeah yeah", and it was a panic. So we went to Australia and did that run and it's been mental in a really good way. So busy and it doesn't seem to be stopping so it's fine by me.

That's good to hear. So touching on the album, how did that come to life?

I was writing and producing for other people for a couple of years and I kind of got sick of it. I was making music that I didn't really like at all [laughs], or just at least there wasn't any kind of self-expression in it or integrity so I decided to make my own music again. I was living in London and I decided to move back to Wales, as that's where I'm from, to set up a studio and make music with no idea of whether it's a band or what it was going to be. I was just doing it for music's sake which was just really refreshing. Before I knew it, it was starting to sound like a record and a year and a half later, it was a finished record. I had to think "woah if this a body of work, now I have to figure out how to do it live", which was never really my intention. To me, it was just something I wanted to do because I felt like there was nothing out there I was proud of. So then I got James and Elliott, the other two guys in the band, involved to do it live. That's really their baby, the live show.

Did that change of environment help with your creative process?

Yeah definitely because there was nothing to do there [laughs]. Somewhere like London, there's a lot of distractions and one of the thing's about going back to Wales was that all I really wanted to do was sit in the studio. At that point, I didn't really have any money so I was sleeping at the studio and just making music 24/7, which was an amazing thing to do at that point because I'd fallen out of love with making music.

Do you feel like in the future you'd only ever make music you're extremely passionate about?

Yeah, I mean the one thing I learnt was to trust your instincts. I'd make a singer-songwriter record a couple of years back, looking back on it, I made a couple of compromises and listened to a lot of people. Which is fine if they're the right people and listening for the right reasons but definitely learning from this, listen to your own instinct. You have to make music that you like, otherwise no one else is going to like it.

That's very true. How did James and Elliott come into the fold?

Elliott is my oldest friend and he's been playing drums in all the projects I've ever done. I've been in some fucking awful bands since I was kid [laughs] and this was the first one I liked. We were in a ska punk band called Project Pigeon and now looking back, it was awful. We were in a Hip-Hop band called Fat Sandwich and a drum n bass thing called Shotgun Luke. He was always playing the drums in whatever band it was so I called him up, he was working as a mechanic, and I told him I'd made this project. James, I met because my particular skill in a band is to throw a thousand ideas at a canvas to see what happens but you've got to have a certain type of brain to make sense of that, which is what he has. He's an amazing and technical, I can explain a sound in my head and he knows how to make it happen. He was recommended to me by someone who's a great engineer but it turned out that he was so much more than that. He wanted to do the live thing and it turns out he's a great keys player, drummer and producer, so it was perfect. It definitely went from solo project in a studio to feeling like a three-piece band.

It seems like you have the perfect blend of guys in the band, from what you say about James just having an ear for the stuff you conjure.

Yeah definitely, there's a maths side to production, recording and engineering that I'm useless at and he's amazing at. He's got no interest in songwriting, so it's a good blend.

Of course. Talking about the song 'Romeo', what was the meaning and inspiration behind that?

I did a university degree in filmmaking and I didn't know at one point whether I'd continue making music, so I was thinking about pursuing something to do with film, maybe editing. So I thought, with this project, why not figure out how to do both. Almost as one of the instruments, we set up a projector in the studio and we'd project films silently on the all and use it as an inspiration. That songs comes from projecting Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet silently but it isn't specifically about the film, it became about things that were happening to me but just using that influence. That's what's amazing about using film because without that, I wouldn't have thought of that as a concept. So it was a nice way to give me fresh ideas so that song came from sitting in front of that film.

To me, it sounded like a soundtrack almost and you visually see the film playing out in your head which was great.

Awesome, glad you liked it.

How did the feature with Run The Jewels come about?

That was a crazy thing because after making the record I moved to New York, initially because of a label showing interest in it. There was a bit of space as the record had been made and there's a long, boring procedure about how you get that out into the world. So in between that I got into producing for other people but stuff that I liked. I was working with a rapper in Brooklyn called Mr MFN eXquire and I was in the studio with him. It was quite funny because he was this proper Brooklyn rapper and he had no idea about me other than the music, I think he heard 'Pressure', so when we met he was like "you don't look like you've been into Hip-Hop all your life" [laughs]. I was trying to explain to him that in Wales where I'm from that he's right, it's not a Hip-Hop place. So he asked how I got into Hip-Hop and I told him that when I was sixteen I loved this rapper called El-P and he was like, "oh he's one of my best friends", and I was like "what!". So I asked if there was any way he could email him 'Pressure', not for anything to happen but just so he hears it, which was enough for me. I didn't get a reply, which was fine, then until about two months later when I get this random email from a Jaime Meline, at that point I didn't know that was El-P's name, so I nearly didn't open it because I thought it was spam [laughs]. Luckily, I clicked on it and it was El-P and he said "I'm making this thing called Run The Jewels, someone was gonna do the hook but they don't wanna do it anymore and you sprang to mind. Is there anyway you could do this hook but we've got 24 hours to do it." So I sent it, he liked it and I guess I thought I wanted them to return the favour and the track itself, it had to be Run The Jewels. I thought they were fucking amazing, they're just the best people I've ever worked with.

I can imagine that. Reading up on them, they do seem great to work with.

It's so amazing because I followed El-P forever and always critically acclaimed, his albums would be getting 10/10s everywhere but never really crossed over, same with Killer Mike. To see this success happen for them, it honestly couldn't happen to two better people. The way their albums goes straight from them to the fans, I think that's why it's successful. Their live shows the best, it's like a punk show.

I've heard great things about so I'm looking forward to it.

Are you coming to the show?

Yeah, I am.

It's fucking insane. It's like the first Hip-Hop show I've been to where it doesn't matter whether it sounds like punk because that's what it sounds like. It's been a pleasure working with them.

When you say it's a punk show, it's like they're not boxed in by any genre boundaries and listening to your music it's the same thing.

The record was made and finished but I still didn't know whether it was a band, a solo project or my name. I was speaking to a mate who said "what are you gonna do about the fact that it jumps and around from genre to genre?" To be honest, I wanted it to be like when you're a kid because it was cassettes when I was growing up. On a cassette when you made a mixtape, my friend was saying that we used to listen to them until the ribbon breaks and soon as he said, I was like "you just gave me the name." That's the name of the band because it's about the fact that there are no genre constraints, it doesn't matter.

It seems like a lot of the best music in the world isn't bound by any one genre.

Yeah, for sure. I was watching a Bjork documentary on the tour bus and I still don't know what type of music she's making and I don't want to know, it's music.

Exactly. So on 'Pressure', two minutes in, there's a drum pattern that sounds like Clipse's 'Grindin''...

You're the only person that's ever said that! Yeah, 'Grindin'' by Clipse is my favourite groove of all time. It's not a sample but it's just me wanting to use that same groove.

Yeah, because I thought I heard it somewhere and then it clicked.

We were making it and I thought that this is the one time I could get away with using that groove, so yeah 100%.

Would Pusha T be someone you'd be willing to work with? I can see a fit somewhere.

I love Pusha T. What's that song? 'Numbers On The Board', that's one of my favourite tracks and one of the best rap songs to come out recently. For sure.

What plans have you got for the near future?

I think for me it's new music. To some people it's new and I understand that you've got to keep promoting it but by the time you've done that it feels old. I love touring but I'm ready to make new music.

Do you find it hard touring and making music?

Yeah definitely. Elliott, the drummer, would just tour forever and he gets bored in the studio but me and James love the studio. It's that thing where when you're in the studio you want to be on tour and when you're on tour, you want to be in the studio.


Until The Ribbon Breaks' debut album, Lesson Unlearnt, is out now on Kobalt Label Services.