Most people’s first encounter with the ultra hip, uber talented band, The Ting Tings can be attributed to Steve Jobs and his brilliant iPod commercials. Their song, Shut Up and Let Me Go, was catchy, fun and piqued everyone’s interest…in more than an MP3 player. Fortunately, that song wasn’t the only trick up The Ting Tings’ sleeve.Their newest album, We Started Nothing, is further proof of this duo’s serious talent. Unable to get those songs out of our heads, COED just had to get the story behind the band. So, we did. The good news: Katie White is just as down to earth and cool as she is talented. And, though we didn’t get to chat with Jules, we are pretty sure the same goes for him.
COED: We Started Nothing is chock full of textured beats, irresistible melodies and witty lyrics- where do the songs come from?
The Ting Tings: We didn’t intend to form in a band so I think it came from a very honest place, because when we wrote these songs we didn’t think anyone would ever hear them. We just wrote them to play for our friends at parties. We were both feeling quite frustrated at the time and very sort of, I don’t know, like, invisible. We had been in a band that hadn’t worked out, we had a bit of a horrible time with it; I think it came from a real frustrated point of view, but they weren’t negative songs; they were just songs to make us feel better.
COED: Could you describe your song writing process?
TT: It’s completely different for every song. Both myself and Jules write everything together. Sometimes it will be that I will come up with something on the guitar and then we’ll come up with an idea on top of that. Or Jules might come up with something on the guitar or drums, or we’ll play keyboards or we’ll just have this little percussive sound. We just turn to sing like guy vocals and then an idea will come out of it.
COED: A year and a half ago, you were playing living room parties for friends; what’s the largest venue you have played to date and how does the experience differ from the early sets?
TT: The largest venue we’ve played to date so far is the festival for the BBC one big weekend in the UK. I don’t know how many people there were, but there were thousands and thousands all singing our song. It’s very different. We just try to keep it the same really, we haven’t tried to change the bond, we haven’t tried to make it anything that it wasn’t; we just keep being ourselves and you know, people either like it or they don’t. We don’t try to manipulate it for other audiences or anything.
COED: How have MySpace and other social networks contributed to your success?
TT: I think, well, we run our own MySpace, that’s our main thing; I’m sure the other ones have helped. The one that we are really fully aware of is MySpace. When we started as a band we put like two songs on there. All we did was add like 20 of our favorite bands, like The Gossip and Talking Heads—we added their MySpaces—and people just found their way there. It’s so weird to be able to put a song on the Internet, and your band on the Internet, and people in Brazil [are] getting in touch and going, “I love it, can you send me a copy of it so I can DJ it?” And so we send them a copy out. It puts our faith back in music. They go on your page and there’s no middleman trying to manipulate the situation. They either like the music or they don’t and it’s very simple. Yeah, MySpace has been great.
COED: Who are your favorite artists on the scene right now?
TT: Well, we’re huge fans of The Gossip. We’ve been friends of theirs for a few years, and then we played Rome recently and we played the same show as them and they were absolutely lovely as well. It’s so nice to meet a band that you’re a huge fan of, then realize they are actually nice people as well. It’s quite rare. (Laughs.)
COED: How has the Apple Commercial featuring “Shut Up and Let Me Go” helped your popularity in the U.S.?
TT: I think it’s just helped to get our music to a bigger audience quite quickly, which is fine by us, because if you’re going to do an ad you might as well do a beautiful-shot ad that has got great visuals and it’s all about music anyway. I think it has helped us, but I think that our MySpace had millions of hits on it before the iPod commercial. That just made it go ten fold.
COED: How important is licensing music for commercials and TV to an Indie band’s success today?
TT: I’m not sure, you know, cause we’re not at the business side of it. I mean, um, I’m sure it must help, you know. We just played Vancouver last night and we’ve never been there before and our show completely sold out there. I mean, I’m sure it must help, from a business point of view, [but] I don’t know how much.
COED: Which bands/artists have influenced your sound?
TT: Talking Heads. We got very obsessed with Talking Heads when we were making this album.
COED: Which artists/bands would you most like to collaborate with?
TT: Oh, that would have to be Talking Heads or Tom Toms. It’s weird, I grew up listening to a lot of manufactured pop that was on the radio because in the mid-90s that’s you know, Backstreet Boys and Spice Girls, that’s what was big. I had a Spice Girls pencil case at school ‘cause that’s what we heard all the time on the radio. I’m a big fan of pop music, but then I realized there were bands like Talking Heads and Tom Toms that made pop music that you could sing along [to] but you could still be creative with it, so we’ve gotten very influenced by them.
COED: You are premiering a new video on FN MTV – any interesting stories behind the video?
TT: It’s a kung fu video. We got obsessed with a movie called Kung Fu Hustle and we wanted to do a kung fu-style video. We had a really good time doing it; we had to go through wires and have a James Bond stuntman show us how to beat each other up.
COED: You let Jules beat you up?
TT: It was mainly me hitting Jules, ‘cause obviously it wouldn’t look too great–Jules beating me up in a video. So it was doing a lot of defensive poses, and we were absolutely covered in bruises at the end of it ’cause we’re not martial arts experts and we didn’t have the control, but we had to look convincing. So when I’m kicking him, I’m actually kicking him in the stomach.
COED: What is your take on FN MTV?
TT: We’re excited to be on it. We’re really happy with this video; it’s our favorite video so far, so yeah, we’re very excited for people to see our video.
COED: We hear you are developing your own clothing line.
TT: Really? (Laughs)
COED: Is that true?
TT: No, not that I know of. I mean, I love to make my own clothes – I have been for the past two or three years. My friend studied clothes design then stopped doing it and he had all these big sort of industrial sewing machines just lying around going musty. I got him to show me how to make clothes. I didn’t like the fashion that was in fashion at the time. I just got into making my own clothes that way. I don’t know if anyone would ever buy the clothes I make. The last thing I made was a dress that I stuck doilies on, you know, what you stick your teapot on. I don’t know if it would be to everybody’s taste. There’s no fashion line in the pies at the moment.
COED: What’s your favorite current fashion trend?
TT: Um, I’m not a big fashion person. I love clothes and I love designers and stuff like that, but I don’t know all the current seasons, I don’t know every designer out there; I just like what I like. These Miu Miu dresses that are like, very baby doll-esque, I’m a big fan of [them]. I don’t know if they were last season or 10 years ago, but I know I like them.