Vancouver's HUMANS on Going Forward and "Going Late"

Vancouver has had quite the burgeoning electronic music scene bubbling up from the city’s DIY spaces to the mainstream the last several years, and at the forefront of this movement have been local dance floor heroes HUMANS. Made up of the very chill and personable duo Robbie Slade and Peter Ricq, HUMANS have gone from performing for late night audiences in crowded after-hours spots to being nominated for a JUNO and traveling the world playing for gigantic crowds at massive festivals like Coachella. Even though they’ve been catapulted onto a worldwide stage, when reached from their office and home studio, respectively, the duo has remained the relaxed, jovial pair that friends and acquaintances in the scene have known them to be from their humble start. 

Their new album, Going Late, dropped November 16th and it shows a new side of the pair, one that is more organic, warmer, but just as danceable as ever. “We started on this record with songs that we had around for awhile,” says Ricq, “but when we went into the studio we would just start to experiment with parts. When we were working on Noontide,” the band's last album, “we went into it with the songs and the parts already done and just recorded that. This time we didn’t really know where we were going to end up. It was a really cool experience but also a bit scary,” laughs Ricq. Slade expounds on the process, “This was definitely the loosest album we’ve done yet. We didn’t have a plan but we were trusting that we were going to come out with something that we both were into. These were songs or ideas from each other that we both really liked,” Slade continues. “We just wanted to expand on the ideas that the other brought into it.” When asked about the daunting task of writing songs under this pressure, Slade laughs, “How do you climb a mountain? You just get up and go do it.”

This kind of work ethic isn’t something foreign to both of the members of HUMANS. Slade, besides a full-time job, hosts a radio show once a week for NFR and writes, records and performs with Max Ulis in Sabota. Ricq is also a man about town. His other project, Gang Signs, is still active and he just wrote and directed his first feature film, Dead Shack, which was released last fall. This kind of experience outside of their main project must help when they come together to record. “I write music very compulsively”, says Slade. “I have this weekly radio show that I do and with it I always try to find music that isn’t just banging electronic music. I know that people are listening to it in an office setting and I like to think to myself what I would want to hear in that environment and that brings to a mindset of hearing new things and I try to expand on that with my own writing.” Ricq works a bit differently. “When I sit down to write a song I know if it’s going to be a HUMANS song or for something else. Usually what happens is I have a few days before I need to be in the studio, I’ll throw down ten tracks and just go for it,” he laughs. 

However the pair works, it seems to be paying off. Going Late takes the listener on a wonderful journey. The album’s title track is full of warm Rhodes piano and Slade’s dreamy, shoegaze-y vocals while tracks such as the opener, “Breakfast With Liz,” take a more minimal, drone-y road, one that is filled with percussion and ethereal synths that will keep your head bopping no matter the environment. “The problem with me and Peter is that we’ve become like brothers,” Slade chuckles. “We just talk about movies. We don’t talk about music that much together at all. We trust in each other that we are both curious and that we can bring that to each other’s projects.” Slade actually brings up one certain thing that has brought them together musically. “My Uncle Tim gave us these recordings of all his own vinyl.” Slade explains, “It’s been the consistent soundtrack that has informed our friendship. Me and Peter’s hook is that vinyl folder.” The vinyl folder in question is a plethora of awesome tracks from the 70s and 80s. As Slade puts it, “It’s like rare grooves, old groovy stuff. We were listening to that hard during the recording. When we were rolling up into the studio in the car it was playing and that might have factored into the songwriting.”

 With the release of the new album and a solid backbone to the professional and personal dynamic of the band, HUMANS should be looking forward to having another successful year. “We are looking to go into 2019 touring lean and mean,” Slade laughs. However that plays out, it’s easy to ascertain a couple of things. One, audiences all over should start getting excited to see the band when they come through their town; and two, that the hard-working pair that make up Vancouver’s favourite dance team will continue to remain as charming, affable and hard-working as they have been since the start. 

PHOTO: Riun Garner

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