UTO – New album out now!

French duo UTO unveils their second album ‘When all you want to do is be the fire part of fire’, out now on InFiné → Listen

When all you want to do is be the fire part of fire… say it to yourself and then say it again. Repeat it like a mantra. It’s what UTO did.

The title of UTO’s second album is concerned with the outer diffusion zone of a flame – the hot, destructive part. It’s a title that’s been judiciously borrowed from legendary American singer-songwriter Bill Callahan, a line from his 2007 song ‘Sycamore’. You might be thinking that the duo’s uncanny, dynamic electronica is a long way from Callahan’s warm baritone drenched acoustic peregrinations, and you’d be right. Nevertheless, those words informed the making of their new record. For Emile, one half of the duo, it’s all about the process: “One interpretation that I like is that the fire part of the fire appears at the same time as it disappears, and it reminds me of the way that I make music, because when I start making music, it always feels like the first time.”

Anyone familiar with the UTO’s lauded 2022 debut album Touch The Lock, which Pitchfork praised for its “prismatic synth pop”, will be aware of the variegated nature of what they do. This album is just as colourful, with Neysa’s vocalwork sparking similarities to Kim Gordon’s off-kilter vocals, which Emile ceremoniously jets through a post-electronica blender mixing stylized indie sleaze productions with 90s breakbeats. When all you want to do is be the fire part of fire is not so much a concept album as an examination of where Neysa May Barnett and Emile Larroche find themselves in their lives in 2024, not only in their own relationship, but also with respect to how that relationship is interpreted and perceived in the wider world. In that sense, it feels like a riposte, where they confront the elephant in the room. They explain: “A recurring question in interviews for years has been: ‘What’s it like to make music as a couple?’

Neysa wrote ‘Napkin’ on an Osmose Expressive synthesizer when she was away in the South of France during the summer of ‘23 – it was a sound that imbued the essence of the track, or so she thought. Emile had other ideas, replacing the intuitive touch with his own warped pianos, recalling London avant-pop duo Jockstraps similar mad scientist approach. ‘2Moons’ also demonstrates how their symbiosis manifests itself in unusual ways. Originally a song written by Emile addressing Neysa, Neysa then subverted the track from within by writing about herself from the perspective of Emile: “I added the choruses by putting myself in his place,” she says. “I wrote to myself, projecting what Emile thought of me.” Such reflective tricks perhaps help them to understand themselves better. “Because we’ve been making music together and living together for so long, we feel we are the same person, and this is very uncomfortable,” adds Neysa, prompting a big laugh from Emile. “Sometimes we feel dead because we know each other too well.”

UTO are agents of chaos who’ve always lived on the periphery of reality, inhabiting an uncanny hinterland of the imagination where dream states coalesce with perceived real life. It probably shouldn’t surprise us then that they have embraced AI where others fear to tread, by following the sonic algorithms to see where they might lead creatively, and by presenting themselves on the cover of When all you want to do is be the fire part of fire as two generated simulations: “This image is not of our faces, but it looks like us,” says Neysa. “It’s more us than us.” More fire than fire, one could add. From fire, early man’s discovery, to AI, humanity’s next great adventure – with all of the wonders and complexities of human relationships in between – When all you want to do is be the fire part of fire really is about life, the universe and everything. Just remember, be the flame, not the moth.

17.04 – Release Party @ Petit Bain, Paris

→ Tickets

Buy new album
More about UTO