British-American electronic duo Ready Steady Die! recently released their music video, “Kiss It,” a track lifted from their latest album, Accidents. Made up of New York-based Morgan Visconti (composer, producer, arranger, multi-instrumentalist, vocals) and London-based Sam K (composer, lyrics, vocals), Ready Steady Die!’s sound blends elements of electronic rock, darkwave, and dream-pop into luscious sonic concoctions, rife with dark beats and avant-garde chocolate box savours.
The video, directed by Max Clendaniel, depicts the host of a children’s show preparing paper puppets for a shadow show. As the show begins, things take a surprising turn, entering an XXX-like presentation, where the puppets strut their penchant for sexual activity.
Shocked and dismayed, the host attempts to bring a halt to the pornographic display. He switches off the light, followed by pouring water over the theatre, followed by setting the theatre aflame. In the end, the puppets flee as the host passes out from smoke inhalation.
XS Noize caught up with Ready Steady Die! to discover the song’s inspiration, how they got started in music, and their album, Accidents.
What inspired your single/music video “Kiss It?”
Sam: Women are asking for the subject of boundaries and respect to be put on the table for discussion. But it doesn’t mean women are forfeiting their sexuality just because they want more consideration. Kiss it is from the POV a woman who is very happy to explore their sexuality.
Morgan: It’s a risqué song, and the lyrics are direct and straightforward “Do it dirty!” that we thought rather than try and compete with the brilliant, sexually charged videos out there (Lil Nas X’s ‘Montero’ being a gold standard) that we should do something tongue-in-cheek. We thought about ways to show the most perverted moves but fly under the radar, and what better than shadow puppet sex? Put it in a children’s TV show, and comedy ensues. The TV show was Max’s (director) idea and script.
Who directed the video, and where was it shot?
Morgan: The video was directed by Max Clendaniel and stars Alan Medcroft as the squeaky-clean TV presenter. The live motion was filmed in a studio in the UK in tandem with animation company IMMIX, based in Bristol, who animated and composited in all of the puppet moves.
You have an upcoming album, Accidents. What can you share about the album?
Sam: ‘Accidents’ covers all aspects of relationships. We talk about sex, breakups, heartache, devastation, serial killing (random, we know), unrequited love, narcissism, and abuse. Each song tells its own story. Musically we also feel there is a journey for the listener to be moved. We’ve incorporated the exquisite sounds of live strings followed by the experimental sound of a creaking oven door that needs oiling.
Morgan: This album was made entirely from our home studios in upstate NY and London respectively. We incorporated more live elements into our electronic sound, this time recording a lot of percussive found objects, including breaking wood, ovens, and pencils. The real magic was working with Ardeton String Quartet (also from Bristol), and on the songs they perform on (Dummies, Island, Hand On Your Heart, Settle), we pushed them way forward in the mix.
Tell us about your writing process.
Morgan: Long before the pandemic, Sam and I got used to writing over the Atlantic. We’ve lived in the same country (UK) for only a handful of years, but with me being NY based, we’ve adapted and have a great pen-pal relationship. I’d say half the songs started with Sam dropping a top line and lyrics over a piano or drum loop, and I’d arrange, write some chords etc. The other half would be tracks I started, and Sam would write melodies and lyrics over that. The idea of sitting in a room with a guitar and writing a song together is wildly foreign to us! But even a decade ago, we’d still make time to get together and at least record vocals in a studio. I miss that, although Sam’s partner is a fantastic engineer and producer and has really glued our process down during the last two years, where we haven’t been able to travel much.
How and when did Ready, Steady, Die! get together?
Sam: We’ve known each since we were 12 and 15. We’ve had a few bands and various projects over the years, some with each other, others not. Pre-pandemic, we would meet up somewhere in the world with our respective partners for a vacation once a year and Ready, Steady, Die! was formed in Loos Bar in Vienna over a couple of smoked martinis.
How did you first get into music?
Sam: Both of our dads surrounded us with music when we were growing up. My dad was an exec at Capitol Records in the seventies. Morgan’s dad is Tony Visconti, who was recording extensively with Morgan’s mother, Mary Hopkin and kept a home studio during Morgan’s childhood.
Morgan: I grew up with a musical family, as Sam mentioned. Mum and Dad were recording in our basement studio as early as I remember. I was mesmerised by the music and heard the music broken down into its parts. The ‘solo’ button on the console blew my mind, as did the Minimoog. I think producing and engineering were possibly more attractive to my young brain than learning an instrument.
Where are you from?
Morgan: Reading, UK.
Sam: London, UK
Did your hometown impact your sound?
Morgan: Not really. Although a bunch of rich rockers lived nearby, I don’t think there was a scene. If there was, it was my house... my parents had some very interesting people over when I was a youngster. I wish I had a more glamorous story about how I discovered the music that really shaped me, but it was largely my mates and I swapping cassette tapes.
Which artists/musicians had the most impact on your sound?
Morgan: David Bowie (obviously!), my mother’s songwriting style has greatly impacted me. Kraftwerk was my first real band obsession, as was Mike Oldfield. In middle school, it was all about Depeche Mode, Talk Talk, Heaven 17. Those artists made records that were larger than life, and I think the commonality is that the studio was the arena they played in best.
Sam: From the ‘90s, we have to include the greatest being Radiohead, Portishead, Massive Attack.
Which artists, in your opinion, are killing it right now?
Sam: Depends on what you define as killing it. There is a big difference between record sales and art, in my opinion. I think there are some up and coming artists who are very exciting, like FKA Twigs.
Morgan: Billie Eilish. Kendrick Lamar. Low. I think each have made a sound that’s so unique to them and set the bar very high.
Who or what inspires you?
Sam: Life. There’s such beauty in the world amongst the absolute terrifying horrors taking place right now. Both evoke emotion, and emotion evokes inspiration.
Morgan: The people I work with every day. My “day job” is running human, and we have over a dozen of the most talented composers and producers I’ve ever worked with. I wouldn’t still be doing it if I wasn’t amazed and surprised every day by the music I hear. But I also need to unplug a lot. Living upstate NY has refreshed my ears quite a bit.
What can your fans expect over the next six months? New material? Live gigs?
Morgan: Definitely another single. We think there are one or two more songs from Accidents that deserve a video. When we get together for the first time since 2019 in a month, expect some VERY wild, intoxicated band photos. We’ve already started writing songs for a third album which I HOPE we can go away and record somewhere nice and warm.
Sam: We hope to get out live at some point, but meanwhile, we have Accidents (new album) which might mean more videos. We will also be releasing a cover of the Kinks’ classic ‘COME DANCING’ soon. And then I guess we start work on album number three.
Thanks for having us!