Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Brad Kopplin
When Ting Tings Jules De Martino and Katie White landed in Austin for their whirlwind appearance at the South By Southwest Music Festival this past March, they were already right tired. They hadn't even done anything yet, just gotten to town, when they visited the Big Orange studio beneath a quickly fading piece of sunlight, two hours past the dinner hour for their first order of business. The studio used for the session sits just on the other side of the overpass that separates basic level sanity from all of the festival chaos - a three-minute walk - but enough of a jag to distance the neighborhood that contains the oldest bar in the city, some creeping gentrification and some authentic roaming chickens and food, from all of the day and night party bananas fest that is the early spring meat market, cattle call.
The Ting Tings were already burnt out on the proceedings that had yet to proceed. They met their Columbia Records-appointed publicist for the first time that night, right there on wish-it-was-gravelly drive up area, folded into chipping wooden lawn chairs and eating their first order of premium Austin take-out food as Akron/Family finished up its blistering, melodic freakout, drum circle session on the inside of the studio doors. De Martino was relishing the quiet calm of the night, the way you could just sit down if you wanted to, not be drowned out by 80 bands all at once, the shuffling along a street with thousands more, aimless and dodging pizza by the slice vendors. White looked sacked out and ready to crawl into bed with sweats and a bag of microwavable popcorn, not get onto a stage in a few hours to play for some drooling lug nuts and tons of hipsters with cameras in their phones and text messaging on the brains. But they shuffled into the studio, happy to live out their last few moments of solitude before the dams broke and whooshed them away with the rapids, and performed a diverse set of poppy, greased-up-floor dance numbers and some surprising, countrified drippers that show a side of the UK sensations that has been least chattered about thus far in the duo's short existence.
There is so much to the band's sound that it's striking in its density, a wild streak of disbelief occurs that makes it seem impossible that there are just two of them making it. White, a guitar novice, and De Martino, the sound and arrangement visionary of the group - a Kenny Laguna of sorts, make club songs for the eclectic, songs that can be carried out of those darkened rooms and into situations that don't require flirtations and superficial gyrations. The Ting Tings are a band within itself, writing songs that are going to get bounced off of many colorful drinks, colorful spills of those colorful drinks and be reflected into impassioned stained glass renderings of the way many nights went down - when this music and that music, played by the great DJ between the ears, stayed ringing and sweating.
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