Eli & Fur

Eli & Fur

Wax Factor Part Three — The third in our series meeting those women doing their thing behind the decks. Last up, and flying the flag for electronica, dance-y duo Eli & Fur.

Eli & Fur – Eliza Noble and Jennifur Skillman – are two London-based deejays who started making music together at sixteen in college. They may have honed their songwriting skills on guitars and notepads – notably penning tunes for pop factory Xenomania – but their current sound is distinctly electronic, mixing house and dance beats with haunting Kate Bush-style vocals for a classic club sound.

With a passion for all kinds of music, Eli & Fur set themselves apart from the hordes of wannabe mixers by producing their own tracks and playing live sets that see them working hard to up the performance aspect of digital delivery. What’s more, the creative duo have plans to develop Eli & Fur into an umbrella brand for all kinds of artistic projects. And with inspirations ranging from Bruce Springsteen and mid-1980s Chicago House to fashion photographer Tim Walker and pop artist Pietro Psaier, the Eli & Fur empire is bound to be a beautiful thing.

Their new single ‘Nightmares’ is out now on NYX Records and available for free download from their SoundCloud.

How did Eli and Fur start up?
Eli: We met at a performing arts college outside Guilford. Fur was studying art and I was studying music technology. From an early age I wanted to write music and sing. I loved a lot of different music but mostly guitar-based stuff that got me into learning the guitar and writing.
Fur: I always loved music, I grew up listening to anything from Depeche Mode to Madonna. I’ve always been into creative things, I love art and music, it’s always something I have wanted to do but never thought I would be able to do it full-time until I got a bit older.

How would you describe your sound?
Eli: It has a dark feel to it, something you can dance to, not without emotion. We are influenced by loads of different sounds, hopefully this shows in our tracks.

Was it tough to break into the industry?
Eli: Yeah it was kind of weird how it happened because it was just two friends that had a hobby. We both loved music so much, we just started DJing and we didn’t have an agent or anything. We emailed out a bunch of promoters and said, ‘Can we come down and play?’ We played at quite a few house parties with friends and it was really slow. We played everywhere! We just wanted to push it on and do more.

Do you think the competition in London drives creativity?
Eli: Definitely. We want to be original but I guess it’s kind of hard because there are so many people who want to DJ. I guess that’s why we’ve got into making our own tracks and I guess that sets you apart when you’re doing this kind of thing. A lot of the stuff that we do is live and that’s something that we really wanted to push.

You write songs, sing and play guitar. Fur plays keyboard and sings. How do you start building a track together?
Eli: I guess it’s different every time. The other day we sat down and wrote a track on the guitar and then built a beat around it. So it was kind of an acoustic track and we built it up that way. That’s a little bit different to how we usually do it. Usually we’ll take a beat or a chord sequence and write a ton of melodies over that and then pick the ones we like the best and structure it into something that sounds cool to play… It really helps that we’ve been friends since we were sixteen, so we get on and know each other so well so working together is easy. We’re both involved in the process of making a track as well as when we are DJing. It’s great to have two minds when being creative, we record each other, write lyrics and produce together.

That sort of analogue/digital crossover is popular with artists like SBTRKT. Were you inspired by anyone in particular?
Eli: There was a ton of DJs that we’d go and see and we loved. We were playing on CDJs originally and then we went to see these guys called KiNK and Neville Watson who sounded really awesome.
Fur: They’re like playing their tracks live and triggering stuff and it was really cool.
Eli: It was amazing everyone was going crazy, so we saw that and thought we’ve got to do that! There are tons of DJs we love now who are doing the same sort of thing.

What is the live element to your sets?
Eli: So we’ve got all the tracks that we love and want to play out and then we’ve got separate instruments, separate controllers, like a separate synth set up on Ableton, so we can create a synth line live – either on keyboard or rhythms on a pad or something like that. When it comes to our own tracks, we’ve got a portable keyboard that we take with us so we can trigger different sounds. Singing is something we’ve just started to do because we’ve started to release our own stuff. We’ve been wanting to do that for ages so that’s really cool. The more interesting the set is the better I guess!

What do you look for in a track for your set? What are your favourites at the moment?
Eli: We are loving ‘Housecall’ by Boston Bun and ‘Karoline’ by Danny Daze & Maxxi Soundsystem. They both stay interesting, build nicely, have memorable vocal parts and the production is wicked.

Do you see Eli and Fur as a brand – are there things you’d like to do beyond music?
Eli: Definitely. We love fashion and our ideas of music and fashion are similar in the way they are ever changing and developing. So many artists and DJs now are creating brands that give them the freedom to create anything from artwork, graphics and projections to clothing. We love this idea, it makes things more exciting and enables people to get more involved in the project. I think it’s definitely a brand and it can definitely develop more and more to do more artistic projects. We’re just at the beginning of the journey.

Where has your deejaying taken you? What’s the best thing about the lifestyle?
Eli: Being able to see new places is a massive plus point, our djing has taken us to Toyko, Singapore and parts of the US in the last couple of years which has been amazing, it’s always great to play somewhere new. Also to be able to spend our time doing something we love is awesome.

Who would you love to collaborate with?
Eli: Maya Jane Coles!
Fur: Oh and Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs.
Eli: Yes! That’d be such a good one. He’s got the good balance of dance and pop, which appeals to a wider audience.

Eli and Fur wear Skullcandy Navigator Supreme Sound headphones.