B(if)tek: How to balance a microphone on your nose

What happens when you get two girls, a Roland System 100 and a helicopter? B(if)tek. It’s French for steak.

B(if)tek are Melbournite Nicole Skeltys and Sydneysider Kate Crawford. They send DAT tapes and emails to each other regularly and seem slightly eccentric in a beautiful electronic way. Their latest creation Frequencies Will Move Together combines the most amazing sounds imaginable. They have turned organic to electric with cats purring, helicopter and train sounds.

“Concentrating on low frequencies generated synthetically and also ‘found’ sound in our living environment,” B(if)tek explores the idea of emotional responses in the listener says Skeltys. Plus it has been a long running passion of B(if)tek to record an “entire album to sounds in the sub-bass spectrum” says Crawford. “Depending on how low the frequency goes, you can create quite different emotions. It’s a powerful technique. But we’ve always used our powers for good rather than evil.”

Do the two electrodynamics go around and bang things, tap items and poke live animals just to hear what they sound like? Of course they do. Crawford explains. “We got into the habit of tapping small animals to see what sounds they make, and then recording them.” B(If)tek also ran a competition on their website for fans to suggest animal sounds that would make the best synths. “Giraffes, penguins and tawny frogmouth owls all rated highly.”

They have pushed electro to different levels by a unique way of looking at the world. Their aural approach to an everyday environment is exciting. So what attracts B(if)tek to electronic music? For Skeltys it’s the attraction of no limit to one’s sonic imagination. “You can make any sound you can imagine…through sampling, the textures of billions of tapestries of structures and feelings.” She is also quite self analytical and admits “it’s a pretty deep infatuation.”

Crawford comments on her love of all things electronic too. “The sensual tactility of old analogue synths combined with the horizon of possibilities provided by digital editing.” Sonic imagination. Horizon of possibilities. Not only are the duo beautifully electronic, but elegantly poetic.

Picturing B(if)tek in the studio, it’s hard not to visualise animals purring, hooting and sleeping calmly. The effects of relaxing low frequencies is “fascinating” says Skeltys. “Some low frequencies (particularly around the 30Htz range) are used in healing therapies to help cure tissue damage.” At their last Opera House gig B(if)tek played an 11 minute sub-bass track that really “shook people up” says Skeltys. “One guy came back stage afterward and told us we had cured his tinitus!” Talented and evangelistic.

Primarily playing at art venues on their album tour allowed B(if)tek to make use of huge sound systems explains Crawford. “Superb bass response…allowed audiences to sit down and really listen to the sounds.” The response to their tour and album has also been favourable. “It’s been fantastic. Sold out shows everywhere” says Skeltys. “People love our new sounds so we are very chuffed.”

Local and international artists also love B(if)tek’s new sounds. Their album contains a bonus remix album featuring Monolake, Dark Network, Scanner, Architecture in Helsinki and Khan just to name a few. A dream come true would be to collaborate with Kraftwerk. “Sad confession” they admit. But “the coolest person we’ve played with is coming up soon, touring with German producer Monolake around Australia in December” says Crawford. The girls are excited. And they should be.

When asked to finish the sentence, great electronic music always…the girls had become even more mischievous. “Makes me thirsty” says Crawford. “Makes you glad you are alive so you can experience such pleasure” responds Skeltys. The two opposites of cheekiness and wisdom. Crawford continues. What is B(if)tek’s favorite party trick? “Balancing the very thin Korg vocoder microphones on our noses.”

Check out B(if)tek balance vocoder microphones on their noses this Friday at Stonefest