Based in NYC and residing at Wolf + Lamb headquarters in the Marcy Hotel, live electronic duo No Regular Play are known for their organic spin on dance music, which features live instruments and vocals layered over funky, synth-laden beats. Comprised of childhood friends Greg Paulus and Nick DeBruyn, No Regular Play's musical adventures have taken the duo to Cuba, where they studied Afro-Cuban rhythms, and back to New York to study classical and jazz at the Manhattan School of Music. After years of releasing singles and EPs on various labels such as K7 and Wolf + Lamb, they released their long-awaited debut album Endangered Species last year. We recently corresponded with the duo over e-mail about their time in Cuba, living at the Marcy, and their new EP with Justin Miller's HAKT label. No Regular Play headlines The End Up this Saturday.
What's the best part of working with someone you've basically known all your life?
Probably the fact that you have already been through any sort of differences and pitfalls in communication a long time ago, so basically you can get that out of the way and get down to brass tacks! But seriously we're really not afraid to tell each other what we think about anything, although since we've grown up together we generally have very similar viewpoints on most things regarding music, work ethic, and traveling -- i.e., don't talk like a loud American idiot when traveling in different countries.
You guys have also traveled to Cuba together. What did you take away from that trip musically?
There is an unmistakable vibe in Cuba. Music and culture blend together seamlessly and the people and the music are one and the same. The music is everywhere and ingrained in the people from birth. What is most prevalent is the rhythm, the conga, bongo and also for us particularly the Montuno style of piano playing. That really struck a chord with us, pun intended!
Since both of you live at the Marcy, is it difficult to separate living and working?
You could say it's difficult to separate the two, but really working is living for us and vice versa. To maintain a career in music you can't really afford to take time off to live and relax too much, although we maybe should. But if you take too much time to create a normal life, next thing you know you'll be looking for another job.
You guys embody an "organic" sound. Do you think that's just because you play live instruments?
The live instrument is part of it, but it's also the recording style. We have always used field recordings, recorded the sound of the room, hand claps, found percussion, just banging on things and recording it. We use the computer as a recording tool, that's it, so all our music is made up of audio recordings. We never end up with this digital, computer sound, which really helps create something organic, even though we're using drum machines and synthesizers.
Will you guys start traveling with a full band on tour?
Yes! We can't wait, we just have to make a little more coin and that will become a reality. We've started playing NYC shows with our dear old friend John Camp on keys and it has really added a new dimension.
What's the most difficult track to play live and why?
Probably a song from Endangered Species called "Won't Quit." It ended up being a situation where we created something in the studio that seemed perfect and then when we went to play it, we realized we hadn't really contemplated the logistics of playing it live. Also a new track called "Night Ranger" that's coming out on Justin Miller's HAKT record label. We haven't even tried this yet but we're doing a music video for it so we're going to have to figure it out.
Tell us a little about your new EP with HAKT.
Justin is a really close friend and we were so excited to get a chance to make a record for him. It's probably our best work yet. It was the first thing we worked on after finishing our album, so it was great to come back to music with a clear, fresh mind and just make tunes for fun without the pressure of a large scale work. HAKT looks to really be a fantastic label with already two great releases from Walter Jones and John Camp, and some great stuff on the way from Cale Parks. We honored to be on board.
With your many releases on many different labels, do you guys vary that particular release with the aesthetic of a particular label?
Making music for different labels is great, because you can keep your identity but at the same time adapt to that label's style and sound. If you just made the same exact sound for every label, there wouldn't be much point in varying labels. As you grow as an artist, varying the label helps shape who you become. As long as the label is within your personal aesthetic, you don't lose track of your identity but keep your sound on the move. Also, you expose your music to different audiences. We love it.
Lastly, what are you two looking forward to doing in S.F.?
Catching up with all of our fantastic friends! We have so many dear friends in S.F. and they are always so supportive. It's a great scene and such a unique vibe. We do get to see a lot of our S.F. friends at festivals and gatherings around the world, but nothing beats hanging with people in their hometown.