Killer Instincts; An interview with Tempers

New York-based duo Tempers, comprised of Jasmine Golestaneh and Eddie Cooper, have been diligently carving out their own unique niche within dark indie, electronica and synth-pop circles since their formation. After a series of digital singles in 2013, Tempers began solidifying their singular identity of rigorous electronic production blended with instinctual, unleashed vocals.

Following well-received tours in Europe and the United States, Tempers saw the release of their debut album titled Services, released in Germany via the highly regarded cult imprint Aufnahme + Wiedergabe and quickly became a staple in the synth-pop/post-punk scenes in both the U.S. and in Europe.  Since the release of Services, Tempers have regularly appeared at a number of international festivals and venues, including Test Pressing Festival and Berghain to name a few, and ambitiously created a concept album entitled Junkspace in 2018, in collaboration with famed architect Rem Koolhaas, about the deconstructed banality and overlooked grace of 20th century shopping mall culture.

Tempers third full-length album, Private Life, successfully progresses their cinematic aesthetic into a moodier and more introspective landscape. The character behind songs such as “Sleep” and “Push / Pull”  break from Tempers signature synth-laden post-punk notoriety, instead, switching to a more somber songwriting style that settles down between downtempo dream pop and despondent soundtracks. Behind the backdrop of driving electronics and magnetic verse, Private Life deconstructs and reimagines the ideas behind despair, love, loneliness, and hope. While most people would simply reflect on nostalgia, Tempers stands alone in their unique methods, fictionalizing their ideas through sound and vision to create soundtracks for everyday affliction.

Ghettoblaster had the pleasure of discussing Private Life (release via Dais Records on October 25) with Jasmine and Eddie recently and is pleased to premiere “Peace of Mind” today as well (below).

Is there a predominant theme or themes that you were exploring with the album? Did you come to any surprising conclusions?

Jasmine: I wanted to write an album exploring the theme of privacy because we live in a culture that is terrified of having a mysterious inner life. We are pressured to quantify and externalize our lives – like on social media, but I think non-stop public documenting can undermine internal complexity. There are parts of ourselves that cannot be understood, are contradictory, and can only be experienced in solitude. That space can feel unsettling, but it’s where new ideas incubate, and where the imagination can really take over in interesting ways. The more I thought about it, the more I realized how important it was for me to defend and protect that realm. 

Was there technical experimentation taking place? 

Eddie: Technically, one thing we experimented with on this album is our vocal recording process – we recorded everything out in the control room, rather than with Jasmine in the booth and me at the console. It’s a subtle difference but it helps us experiment and gather ideas much more easily. There’s an immediacy this way that I think lead to a more natural interaction between vocals and music on Private Life.

After three albums I imagine you’ve learned some lessons about your craft and how you prefer to approach it. Is there one that is more prominent than others?

Eddie: We’ve definitely evolved our writing and recording process over the course of our career. The main thing I’d say is that we’ve become more instinctual about the music we make, not thinking much about genre or even whether our new music adheres to our previous work. I think that’s because we’ve come to trust that whatever we decide to create will have our shared sensibility, and that sensibility is what makes Tempers what it is.

I imagine there is a level of visibility that comes with being a musician. Has that visibility ever leached into your private life in ways that you weren’t prepared for? 

Jasmine: Every now and again someone will come up to me in a public place like at the cinema or a bar and tell me they are a Tempers fan. It always catches me off guard, because I feel like my life as a musician just happens at shows or in the studio, and it’s surprising when it intersects with my everyday life.  

This is your first effort for Dais. What is it about the label and its philosophy and roster that makes it a fit for Tempers?

Eddie: We’re so happy to be with Dais, it really is a perfect fit for us in both energy and aesthetic. It’s a diverse roster that still feels totally cohesive, and that’s not isn’t easy to achieve, especially with its balance of reissues and current bands. I think that suits us in part because our music has a lot of distinct influences that we try to synthesize. In terms of philosophy, the label has a purity of vision and openness to its artists’ instincts, which is something we’ve sought.

Are you from NYC or are you transplants? What is it about the city that makes it an appropriate home base for Tempers? What is your favorite place or activity there? 

Jasmine: I was born in the U.S., I grew up in London, so I feel like a transplant. It’s a privilege to live in a city that is haunted by so many iconic ghosts that shaped me as a musician. I just found out that Frank O Hara used to live across the street from me. Having access to art and music 24/7 means there’s no chance of running out of inspiration, the only burden is getting overstimulated. My favorite activity is going for long walks in the East Village where I live, there’s always spectacular and surreal splays of garbage lining the pavement – like this morning I saw a wedding dress coiled around a vacuum cleaner, followed by a trail of lettuce heads. In any other city, it would seem psychedelic, but here it’s just the mundane way of things, and that makes me feel at home.    

Can we expect some touring in support of the LP? What will that look like?

Eddie: Yes, after the album release, we’ll be touring this fall and winter – we have a few U.S. dates coming up and then we’ll be doing an extensive UK/EU tour in early 2020.

Pre-order the album here and here.