Plaitum combine the glacial cries and whispers of Abi Dersiley with the dark and brooding atmospherica of producer Matt Canham. Now 20, the multi-instrumentalist pair have been friends since childhood, having met aged 11, at school in Colchester, and bonded over their shared love of Massive Attack, Talking Heads and old horror films. They were in a series of bands together before realising their close friendship meant a duo was probably the most effective vehicle for their ideas.
From the outset, circa 2007-8, they shared a fascination for the then-nascent witch house, the term ascribed to the mysterious, deep, ominous sludgewave of oOoOO, Salem, Balam Acab et al. Other formative influences include James Murphy/LCD Soundsystem (Matt) and Bjork (Abi). Their respective minds were blown by New York geek-funk gods Talking Heads - whose Stop Making Sense DVD rendered Matt speechless when he saw it, aged 12 - and Slipknot, who Abi went to see when she was 14 in her best “zippy dress and ugly awful striped fingerless black and red gloves”.
'Plaitum' is a neologism that the duo came up with spontaneously, though they sometimes attempt to rustle up a more imaginative answer, the latest being that it is “the liquid that emanates from a fish’s body after it dies”.
Their first joint composition, "Geisha", was written and uploaded to SoundCloud while they were still at school, and so-named because it had the requisite “sultry and mysterious” quality to match the baleful bliss-scape conjured by Matt with his Ableton software and Abi with her darkly powerful vocals. It attracted the attention of French imprint Kitsuné, who used it as the climactic piece of music for the 14th in their series of prestigious compilations.
In February 2015, they signed to Wolf Tone, the record label home of Glass Animals and Rosie Lowe, founded by Paul Epworth, producer of Adele, Florence, Coldplay, Paul McCartney, U2, Crystal Castles, Bloc Party, FKA twigs, Lorde and more.
As for what their esteemed label owner saw in them, it was, says Abi, “that we made this dark, aggressive, noisy and distorted music, but that they were still pop songs”. Think the intensity of Crystal Castles with the infectiousness of Chvrches. When pushed to identify Plaitum's lyrical themes, they decide that “it's mostly just obsession and death”.
“Some tracks are just about sex,” adds Canham. “There are a lot of carnal songs on the EP and album.”
They get ideas for songs from late-night sessions eating Thai food and watching movies (with the sound turned down) such as Akira, Drive and Enter The Void. Abi cites a relationship gone very sour, and a difficult period living in a damaged situation, as source material for most of her lyrics.
"LMHY", the lead track on their self-titled debut EP, is about “the honeymoon period of a relationship,” explains Canham. “During which you feel overwhelmed with love for this new person in your life but also scared that everything will fuck up and it was just that - a honeymoon period."
"It's probably the happiest song we've written,” adds Dersiley. “It’s cute but loud.”
Plaitum are currently working on their forthcoming debut album, with Canham at the controls at the famous Church studios in North London’s Crouch End, overseen by Epworth. Ahead of that there is their debut EP and it is the introduction to the world of Plaitum. A world of obsession and death, sex and psychosis, and charged, dark electronic pop.