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Friend Roulette
Soundtrack music that pulls its weight equally well in rock clubs
by: Mike Levine (@Goldnuggets) - July 5, 2012


There’s a perfectly hummable sentiment somewhere in Friend Roulette’s “Sailing Song” that keeps working its way back to the surface, but only after first progressing through all manner of uneven meter changes, brass fanfare and incidental thematic adventure. At times stepping boldly into a space usually exclusive to the imagination of score composers like Danny Elfman, the group essentially writes baroque pop pieces for an imagined Brechtian musical, casting its talented singers/songwriters Julia Tepper and Matthew Meade as the show’s unlikely protagonists.
After moving through so much sonic landscape, you might think it reasonable that you’d eventually get a good idea about how this band operates. But the more I listen to the quintet, the less sure I am of where the genre’s fault lines are drawn. And it doesn’t help that the vocals are surrounded by generous portions of airy synth playing and legato violin bowing. Like an old noir film, Friend Roulette never gives away the plot.

I'm curious where some of your influences come from. Are any of you big film music fans?
MATT: John (EWI & Bass Clarinet) is a big fan of film music. He went through a big phase of listening to alot of Enio Moricone. I really like the soundtrack to "Psycho." But mainly my biggest influences are Van Dyke Parks & Stravinsky. Both those composers carry a cinematic type of quality with their music.

Love your new video for 'Hi, Hello'! Do you really enjoy cocktail parties?
Oh thanks. That was really fun. Our good friend Duncan Bindboietal directed it. He knows us well enough to know that the easiest way to get us all together would be to throw a cocktail party. However it didn't make for the easiest directing situation... dealing with a bunch of drunks.

Where does your synth influence come from? This isn't an element I usually hear used in larger ensembles.
Our Main Synth element is this instrument called the EWI (electronic wind instrument). Its basically a synthesizer that is set up like a clarinet & controlled by breath. John used to play bass clarinet with us live, however, the bass clarinet is a tricky instrument to mic... especially in rock clubs. 2 drummers can easily bury a clarinet.

Tell me what the difference is between one and two drummers?
4 arms, 2 hearts & 10 toes! I love our 2 drummers...Rhythms never get stale or predictable. They are especially interesting, because on their own, they are total opposites. Tlacael is very on top of the beat & calculated whereas Kyle tends to be way behind and a bit more funky. This makes for a great rhythmic push and pull.

I understand you have an LP on the horizon. Tell me what I can expect…
A very lush and dense album is what you can expect. We have been working very hard on it. Most tracks have about 3 layers of Bass Clarinet & EWI (electronic wind instrument)... Violin as well. Many tracks have 4 layers of percussion. It's moving into more melted, psychedelic territory... and Julia's vocals sound amazing.

List relevant info about past or future releases, tours, success stories, radio chart results etc...
We're trying to go on tour we promise! Its just hard without a booking agent or a van... wanna help us with that?

"A very lush and dense album is what you can expect."

Friend Roulette
"Hi, Hello EP"

what it is

A 19th Century Noir Opera updated with synths. For those who like: The Freelance Whales, Local Natives, Bertolt Brecht.