The Ting Tings are managed by Jay-Z’s Roc Nation. Jay is an artist who has managed to stay true to himself while maintaining relevancy. Jules de Martino and Katie White hope to do the same, and that alone could explain the four-year gap between the duo’s breakout debut We Started Nothing and its latest release, Sounds From Nowheresville.
“We have to tour this record for two years because of the time we took and probably the awkwardness that we behaved like almost to get it done,” White told me during my sit down with the English band. “We feel like we have something to say, which is [important] to us.”
The singer said she would have hated the alternative: to release an album that the band simply couldn’t or wouldn’t want to speak about.
“We wouldn’t have been able to tour,” she said. “We wouldn’t have been able to do interviews.”
Surely that thought crossed de Martino and White’s mind a few years ago. After a recording session in Berlin that yielded countless songs, the group played its record label 10 final tracks. Columbia executives were excited beyond belief; the duo was far from satisfied.
“We weren’t not feeling them because [Columbia] loved them,” White clarified of the songs. “We just felt like we had more to do really.”
A single from that session, “Hands,” would eventually make its way on to radio. The Calvin Harris-mixed track serves as the bridge between what was The Ting Tings’ first album, what could’ve been its sophomore LP, and what is Sounds From Nowheresville.
“We totally respect dance music and what it does,” de Martino noted. “What we didn’t want to do is just jump on a bandwagon of fads and trends.”
So the group took its rhythm-based, multi-instrumental act to Spain and wound up recording its second album amidst isolation.
“We started to realize we wanted to make a record that represented music how we listened to it,” de Martino explained. “We felt that this record we made represented a playlist of lots of different genres of music.”
But the playlist isn’t exactly on shuffle: there is cohesiveness to Sounds From Nowheresville. During the interview de Martino mentioned The Killers’ Hot Fuss and the rollercoaster of emotions and stories the album takes its listener on from start to finish. That idea is certainly mirrored in Sounds: the ride begins slowly with Silence, and seems to hit full steam by track three, the catchy in-your-face single “Give It Up.” Energy peaks two songs later in the defiant “Guggenheim.” From there, the tempo slows gradually to a near halting stop on the final track, “In Your Life.” Coincidentally enough, the group wrote that song in Berlin, and recorded it in one take.
“I really wanted to make [Katie’s singing ability] prominent on this album,” de Martino said. “So to contain it we felt well why not a nice way to end is rather than end on a big track, why don’t we just let the album live there in this space, so people can sort of reflect on it, and talk about it.”
The plan worked with me, as I asked the question de Martino hoped for: Why did you end the album on such a soft note? Thankfully for de Martino and White, neither will mind having that conversation for years to come.