“We were never in a rush to set our sound in concrete when we started Factory Floor, we wanted it to be a constant development and allow it to grow in its own time,” Gabe Gurnsey from post-industrial experimental technoid beatsmiths Factory Floor tells DJ Mag, going part-way to explaining why they're only now releasing their debut album after eight years together. “The tracks we've released so far are snapshots of times where we've been happy to track ideas, not just because we wanted a single out.”
After releases on indie label Blast First and JD Twitch and JG Wilkes's Optimo label, the trio have signed to hip NYC label DFA for their eponymous debut album. Stuffed full of mechanistic funk, disco-not-disco, acid tracks and discursive Optimo-style electrotech, it's a body of work of which they should be proud. “Album sessions weren't spent recording tracks we'd polished off and rehearsed before,” Gabe explains. “They were spent writing, processing and pushing our sounds individually, taking small ideas that had appeared out of nowhere during a live show and extending and manipulating them until they reached a point that we were happy with them.”
This album may be a snapshot of where they are now, but it's been as a live act that FF have largely built up their name. A series of shows they curated at London's ICA in 2011, which saw them teaming up with seminal industrialists Chris & Cosey, followed work they'd done with Stephen Morris from New Order — like Gabe, himself a drummer who became more involved with studio electronics.
“It was fascinating to see how Stephen and [partner] Gillian approach making music and the space they created it in when we went up to their studio in Macclesfield,” FF say. “Being surrounded by loads of synths and vintage drum machines, some used on the early New Order tracks.”
Vocals are used more like an extra instrument in FF tracks, although the guys still consider them “massively important”. “Just like the live drumming, they are another primal human element in our sound which you can't get with any other instrument,” Gabe says. “A lot of the sounds used in industrial music are very primal, too. This is why they appeal to us. They are sounds that are with you every day, incidental sounds.”
When DJ Mag asks if their sound has changed since signing to DFA, they joke: “Ha ha ha — yeah. DFA sent us a giant cowbell in the post with a note saying, 'You know what you gotta do' attached to it. Not really. But being on a New York label definitely makes you want to dance, and make other people dance.”