Since meeting in Michaelmas 2008, the St. Catz duo Ro-to-the-Land and The Great Gartini – Roland Lasius and Tom Garton – have gone from strength to strength, rising to fame as the winners of RAG’s 2009 Oxford’s Got Talent competition. The boys unashamedly style themselves as an eclectic fusion of virile guitar riffs that will haunt you for nights, intricate, satirical rap lyricism, and falsetto warbling to put Justin Timberlake to shame. The impossibility of pigeonholing this messy double act into a fixed genre is part of the band’s offensive charm. The ladies love it. Darlings of the JCR/MCR open mic circuit, R2tL&TGr8G are not afraid to insult their audiences’ sensibilities with crass jingles, both glamorising and interrogating the exploits of middle class adventurers.
We interrupted Tom and Roland holed up in their writing zone: much of their dishevelled attire and “bohemian” décor struck us as shameless self-promotion. Regardless, a sincere degree of mystique and paradox shrouds the heart of their oeuvre. Building dreamy spires into the bitches and bling topos of late 90s hip-hop, their material blends two at first seemingly opposed social dimensions. Their lyrical world, peopled by third generation Brasenose Classicists who ‘don’t give a shit if their family’s all fascis’, is as much indebted to the epigrams of Oscar Wilde as to Eazy-E’s 1993 classic ‘Real Compton City G’s’. Pressed further, they baldly claim inspiration from Busta Rhymes, Al Green, and the grime scene – an interesting framework for songs about private healthcare, city jobs and incontinence. Their future plans include ‘more of the same really’ and a myspace page. Rumours of a debut album bubble throughout the Oxford music scene but remain, at present, unconfirmed.
In the murky corridors of St. Anne’s, an electronica revolution is brewing, PRDCTV (pronounced ‘Productive’ for the less vowel averse amongst you) is third year St. Anne’s psychologist Alex Lloyd.
Influenced by seminal 21st century electronic pioneers such as Four Tet and Bonobo, Alex began writing as PRDCTV in the summer of 2008. His tracks are painstakingly sampled and pieced together from bedroom recording sessions, emerging as fluid patchworks of exquisitely lush, organic folktronica. Branded the “Oxford Don” by XFM DJ and cult icon John Kennedy, Alex has been commissioned to do a number of remixes for artists such as Patrick Wolf and These New Puritans. Just before Christmas, PRDCTV signed to Ninja Tune, an independent label which is home to the likes of Bonobo, Mr. Scruff, Roots Manuva and The Cinematic Orchestra to name but a few.
We can look forward to PDRCTV’s first full length offering in early 2011, and, if his debut EP It’s Never Too Late To Have A Happy Childhood is anything to go by, we can expect glitchy samples strung together with verve and panache.
If a full time degree and time consuming solo work were not enough, Alex also runs the Oxford-based electronica label Geometric Records, home of Envelope and Jack Cleverly.