Interview

Technology + Teamwork: “We sort of thought being in a band was embarrassing”

Anthony Silvester and Sarah Jones have taken their time in creating their debut album as T+T – a very late gift from 2000s indie that would have never fitted in that world

Curious electronic duo Technology + Teamwork are multi-talented virtuosos Anthony Silvester and Sarah Jones. Their friendship has clocked nearly two decades, during which they have lived lives far beyond the kitsch decadence of the 2000s scenes in which they met; they’re now making unconventional and intelligent electronic music solely for the joy of doing so.

Our conversation starts way back in the day, when the two artists first met, and Anthony was in his post-university band XX Teens. “We sort of thought being in a band was embarrassing,” he admits. “We only played in art galleries [and] we were taking it way too seriously. I think when Sarah came along it started to be fun again.”

“That was you taking it seriously?” Sarah says. You can’t tell if she’s joking or not.

Sarah joined XX Teens as previous drummer Leo Taylor’s replacement (Leo went on to play for Hot Chip, Floating Points and many more) and met Anthony for the first time at Bestival. This was deep in the era of what people now call indie sleaze, and Sarah and Anthony were right in the thick of it, with Sarah playing drums for bands like New Young Pony Club and Bat For Lashes.

“I read one of Mark Fisher’s books, this cultural theorist,” he recalls. “He was talking about that time being one of the worst in music ever. I kind of partly agreed with him, it was fun but also maybe terrible. Britpop into retromania…”

The duo now have a sibling-like relationship that’s lasted longer than several of their professional pursuits. Anthony composes and provides sound design for art films, as well as performing across the world in galleries, whilst Sarah has been a staple in the pop and alternative spheres, releasing solo music as Pillow Person and drumming for the likes of Bloc Party and Harry Styles (she’s not been home for six months and today’s one of her first days off in weeks).

Despite the richness of their respective careers, Sarah and Anthony don’t credit them as influences on their Technology + Teamwork project – but they do agree that this band could never have worked out like this ten years ago.

“When I’m touring with bands, I see how they’re on major labels and stuff happens really fast,” Sarah says. “The thing with me and Anthony [is different]: life happens first and then we write music based on that. I think lots of people are missing that, they go: ‘Right, got to get the next album out by that time’ – [but] have you got anything to say?”

Apparently, they do have something to say now. We Used To Be Friends, their debut album, is out in early 2023, following the three singles they released in a flurry of early activity back in 2016 and 2017.

“We got excited, released some music, and then life happened in between and we didn’t have time,” Sarah says regarding the break in releases. “The type of music we were making wasn’t quite gelling…[we were] trying to figure out what it really was that we wanted to do. We switched genres, pretty massively in all of that time, and then it just sort of clicked.”

The title of their debut album is a tongue-in-cheek quip on the duo’s ever-changing friendship, and was only able to come to fruition due to a rarity where the pandemic meant that they were living only seven miles from each other. It’s an incredibly progressive record, that melds various genres in the electronic music world – think a hazy, neon-lit club full of fun house mirrors, soundtracked by distorted synths and vocals.

“I wanted it to be so different to what I usually do,” Sarah says of the sonic direction of the album. “I’m shy as well, so it’s a bit [about] getting into a character.”

“The inherent political nature of electronic music really appealed to me,” says Anthony. “I was always a fan of ’60s San Francisco counterculture movements, then realising electronic music came out of it and all these amazing female artists that were from that time, living lives which were so hard. There’s so much heart and rich history, [more so] than this didactic idea of a guitar somehow being something which was real or sincere. People that made these electronic instruments originally were imagining future utopias, where people didn’t have to be wealthy, didn’t have to go to music college, and they didn’t have to know music theory. Anyone could make sound.”

“I want people to feel joy,” Sarah says, “and realise that people are still out there making music, for the real reason that music is supposed to be made.”

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