Flying close to the sun with Icarus [Interview]

Flying close to the sun with Icarus [Interview]Icarus New Press 2

Brotherly duo Icarus have been simmering in the underground for years crafting notable tunes and earning accolades from Annie Mac and other icons, but it was within the past year that their career reached boiling point. With the release of their anthemic “Love Has Come Around,” they caught attention, and adoration, from RÜFÜS DU SOL. Their chemistry was instantaneous, and soon the duo found themselves joining the band for an expansive international tour—right in time for them to impress their audiences even more with a newly unveiled live set.

Quality remains at the heart of Icarus’ philosophy, regardless of whether they’re making the next crossover hit like their recent single, “Sirens,” or diving into the deep realm with tunes like their Real Lies-assisted “Man Of The Land.” Each mix is precise, balanced, and harmonious —a true testament to their natural ear for music. Since going on tour, the outfit have dedicated most of their days to the studio, where they’ve been concocting their next batch of fresh tunes to share to the world. Curious to know more about what drives them and inspires them, we sat down with Icarus to explore their creative process, lessons from their first big tour, and more.

What was the most unexpected thing you two discovered/learned about while on your first expansive tour with RÜFÜS?

The biggest surprise to us on that tour was how receptive the
crowds were to our music. We had no idea what to expect before we went, but we were blown away by the energy and positivity the crowds had night after night. The whole RUFUS team made us feel so welcome and to see how all of the different moving parts come together to make one amazing show was really inspiring.

You often spend 8+ hours in the studio each day. How do you maintain that fire and discipline to do so?

It’s a routine we’ve been in for years now and it seems to work pretty well for us. The thinking behind it is to try and maintain some sort of normality by working office hours, but when things are super busy, we can easily be working 12-14 hour days in the studio. A lot of the time, we’ll spend a day or even days and not make much progress on a track, but we’ve been doing it long enough to know that if we keep pushing, we’ll get there in the end!

Where do you go or what do you do to help get your creative juices flowing? Is toying around in the studio your prime sense of creative direction?

It can be, definitely. We’ve got a few hardware synths and toys that will spark some inspiration from time to time, but it also comes from travelling, listening to new music, conversations, anything really. Time away from the studio is arguably more inspirational than the time spent in there. We both always seem to have ideas as soon as we leave the studio, even after a day of struggling to write anything we’re happy with.

Describe how your routine in the studio has changed or evolved between the start of your music career and now. How have you become more refined and skilled as artists?

The main difference between now and a few years ago is the amount of free time we have to spend on writing. When your DJ and touring schedule gets busier, studio time is sacrificed and it can be really hard to find time to be creative. That has forced us to become a bit more focussed when it
comes to writing, which is a good thing, but sometimes creativity doesn’t strike when you need it to and that can be frustrating.

‘Icarus’ obviously brings to mind the Greek legend of Icarus flying too close to the sun (to his demise). How does this legend tie into your name as a band? Does it mirror your philosophy as musicians to be ambitious and ‘shoot for the stars’ at all costs?

The story of Icarus ties into our philosophy as musicians for sure. One of our favourite sayings from early on is “Never get too high, never get too low”. In this industry it’s so easy to get carried away, when things are going great, you feel amazing, everything is falling into place, but then inevitably that doesn’t last forever and things take a turn. It’s then even easier to feel stressed, anxious and insecure. What we’ve realised over the years is that there are always going to be ups and downs, no matter at what level we’re at, and to not get caught up in triumphs or defeats. Having a level head and
positive outlook on things is something we really try and maintain.

On a related note to the last question, I’m guessing you guys openly embrace failure as part of your journey? Is there an instance you bounced back from a failure only to become far stronger artists?

Definitely, we fail all the time. Whether it be in the studio when we can’t seem to write anything we think is good enough, or after a DJ set we felt like we could’ve picked better records, or during a live performance we might have made a mistake and missed a note. All of these things happen all the time and it’s about learning from them and improving, not beating yourself up about it.

You’ve talked at length about how you prepare for a DJ set or mix. But let’s dive deeper into your curation process. How do you go abou finding/discovering new music, and how has this process changed over the years since you’ve become more successful? Do you stick mainly to promos these days, or do you go crate digging online/in stores? Are there specific labels or artists putting out music now that are really hitting it for you?

As our artist project has grown, we’re now in a fortunate position to be sent a lot of brand new music from many of our favourite labels, so that’s definitely a great resource for new DJ tracks. We still do end up buying a lot of records from Beatport though! One artist that springs to mind who we’re loving at the moment is Luces, they’re amazing and we play a lot of their records in our DJ sets.

Have you purchased any new studio toys as of late that have enhanced your productions or made you even more excited to produce?

The only thing we’ve bought recently is an Arturia Rackbrute modular eurorack case. The idea was to start filling it with modular fx units but we’ve been so busy we haven’t got round to putting anything in there yet! Modular fx and sequencing is something we’re keen to experiment with to add a different workflow to our studio process. Hopefully we’ll be able to start experimenting soon!

Do you ever see yourselves moving beyond house-based music and trying out other genres, maybe even under different aliases?

100%. We’ve always been keen to write for other artists in different genres and it’s something we’ll be exploring more this year.

You’ve just released a new EP called ‘This Must Be The Place’ – can you dive into the writing process and inspiration behind it?

The concept for the EP came to us last year as we were fortunate to spend a lot of time travelling, seeing new places and experiencing new things. The
idea behind it was one of constantly moving from place to place, never settling or addressing issues or fears in one’s life, living a nomadic lifestyle. Towards the end of the writing process we were struggling to finish the final track ‘Running Away’ and had tried several times to finish it
whilst on the road. It took going away on tour and having those experiences and then coming back to our comfort zone to make it work. When we got back to Bristol we were able to finish it pretty easily.

What’s next in the Icarus pipeline?

Our UK Live Tour kicks off later this month and we’ll be releasing a brand new piece of music around that time too. We’re also back in the studio working on new music ahead of a busy. We’re also back in the studio working on new music ahead of a busy summer of festivals, some of which we’ll be taking the live show to, so we’re really excited about this year.

Photo courtesy of Insanity Group

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