UTO cook up glitchy electro from their cosy country home

100%: The French couple chat UFOs, onion tatins and ​“upping” the ​“ante” on their excellent second album.

Neysa and Émile, the couple who make up the band UTO, dial in for our interview from their secluded home between Paris and Orléans. There are overspilling bookshelves in the background and a cosy looking fireplace in the corner. You can basically hear birds singing in the trees.

Living in the countryside like this, you sometimes feel like an old person,” Neysa says. There’s nothing around us – no restaurants or bars, it’s quite isolating. But then you start a little fire and you start to feel alive again.”

UTO did just that for their exhilarating second album When All We Want To Do Is Be The Fire Part Of Fire, which takes its title from a Bill Callahan lyric. Lead single, Art&Life, is a bonafide roller, with Neysa’s vocals seeping into a jittering electro beat, exploring the parallels between, well, art and life.

I was listening to a lot of UK party music at the time [of making the track], like Overmono and Four Tet,” Émile says.

And of course, the song is about us,” adds Neysa. We live together and we’ve been working together for six or seven years. We tend not to always see the difference between our art and our relationship. The whole album, really, is about exploring that.”

When All We Want To Do… is the follow-up to UTO’s 2022 debut, Touch the Lock, which was a little more sparse and glitchy in its instrumentation. With this upcoming album, Émile and Neysa have injected their sound with a dancier edge.

“[At first,] we wanted our music to sound like nothing else, which was maybe a bit pretentious,” Émile says. On this album, I’ve opened my horizons. It’s more aligned with the kind of music I like listening to, which has always been a lot of electronic music like the Warp catalogue, Autechre, Boards of Canada…”

Neysa, meanwhile, is into folk. I like arrangements, lyrics and melodies,” she says. Since the pair met at a party almost 10 years ago and started working together shortly after, these sensibilities have melded together, crystallising into an idiosyncratic sound that sets UTO apart. Keep an ear out for When All We Want To Do Is Be The Fire Part Of Fire, which drops in April.


What kinds of emotions and experiences influence your work?

N: Because we’ve been [working] in fusion for such a long time, I think our music is also about diffusion in some ways, and the process of coming together again.

E: We’re always learning how to live and work together.


What’s a piece of advice that changed your life?

N: Le jour où vous vous sentirez légitime, arrétez tout” [As soon as you feel validated, stop everything]. It’s important to live with a sense of uncertainty in life.


If you were cooking to impress someone, what would you make?

E: An onion tatin.

N: You just cut the onions half so they look like flowers. It’s really beautiful.


Do you believe in UFOs?

N: We believe in UTOs…

E: I believe there’s life beyond us.

N: But maybe not little green men.


You rule the world for a day. What goes down?

E: I would redistribute this power – that’s the biggest problem in the world, that there are few people with all the power.

N: I would like to have the superpower to give everyone a delicious meal and not feel starvation or thirst. Then we can all have a nap.


What’s your trick to get out of a boring conversation at a party?

N: I’m gonna pee!”


Love, like, hate?

E: I love packing. I love to optimise our tour set-up. I like coffee in the morning. I hate falling asleep on a train during the day and waking it up when it arrives.

N: I love the record Veedon Fleece by Van Morrison. I like cutting branches from the trees in the garden. I hate having a headache and wanting to pee at the same time. It’s very uncomfortable.


Favourite song of all time?

N: Something by Rickie Lee Jones, maybe. I’m not sure if she wrote it, but there’s a live version of a song called Something Cool. She’s in a bar, she’s a bit drunk and she meets someone and tells him about her life. It’s beautiful.

E: Amen Dunes’ cover of Song to the Siren by Tim Buckley. It’s a really, really great track.


What can artists do to help save the world?

E: Sing.

N: Write and think about the world.


What’s the last lie you told?

E: It’s going to be OK.

N: I’m gonna pee.

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