A moment of inspiration can change anything. When twin brothers Will and Matt Ritson started a new project in May 2013, their first jam session yielded the almost immediately fully-formed track ‘Hangin’. A little over two years later, its raucous mix of anthemic disco-punk, insistent percussion and pulsating bass became FORMATION's third release in the duo’s still-evolving journey and premiered with Annie Mac on Radio 1.
Their first release, a white label 12”, was issued in the summer of 2014 with close friend Jonny Tams on production duties. “The idea was just to get something low-key out, so that if people were interested they could grab a copy,” is keyboardist Matt’s modest summary of Formation’s first excursion into the wider world. “It was cool just to see our own record in our favourite shops,” adds Will, citing support from Soho institutions such as Phonica, Sounds of the Universe and Sister Ray as particular examples.
MENO Records subsequently jumped on board to issue their second EP ‘Young Ones’. Its title track - a belting clarion call to the dancefloor – instigated a frenzy of glowing comparisons with a galaxy of like-minded spirits such as Liquid Liquid, ESG, LCD Soundsystem / DFA Records, The Rapture and Arthur Russell, while JD Twitch of Glaswegian discotheque heroes Optimo provided a remix.
Their initial approach to songwriting derived from improvised jams with Will on drums and Matt on bass, and that’s a stance that continues to this day, time permitting. “We’ll then put the idea on a loop for thirty minutes and if it doesn’t get boring, we know it’s a good song,” explains Matt. From there, they flesh the main groove out until it becomes a fully-fledged song.
By contrast, the Ritsons both take on different roles in Formation’s live band, with Will on vocals and Matt on keys. The strength of their relationship with white label producer Johnny Tams continues with him on bass, while Sasha Lewis (keys) and Kai Akinde-Hummel (drums) complete the line-up.
Lyrically, the tracks work on two levels – you can lose yourself within the songs’ hypnotic surge, but the lyrics lend themselves to further investigation too. “I always try to have a sense of a social or political idea in there,” Will continues, adding the disclaimer, “but it doesn’t have to be too heavy.”
If their discography so far is anything to go by, expect the duo’s eclectic experiments to intelligently blur the boundaries between a respect for their roots and a desire to drive improv-pop into a new dimension.