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Until The Ribbon Breaks

photography Lamont Abramczyk
words Zarah Cheng

There’s a certain sensuality about Until The Ribbon Breaks.  From the way that you can almost feel Pete Lawrie-Winfield’s breath on your skin as he lulls you through a song to the way that the beat seems to throb in every melody, UTRB’s new album, A Lesson Unlearnt, is a soundtrack for all your best and worst romances.  These are songs about love and heartbreak, triumph and defeat, strength and vulnerability.  Originally from Cardiff, Britain, Until The Ribbon Breaks speaks a universal language about being at your best and worst.  Perhaps there’s a vulnerability that you would have to admit to when you realize that A Lesson Unlearnt recounts a torrent of emotions you’ve been through, but at least it’s nice to know that there’s someone dancing along with you.  The frequent reshaping of the album’s soundscape often feels like a beautiful catastrophe on the verge of spinning out of control, but the sentiment is constant.  A Lesson Unlearnt dares you to risk everything because come on, safe is boring.    

Until The Ribbon Breaks’ new album is titled, A Lesson Unlearnt.  What is the meaning behind the album title?

I was in a creative slump – writing and producing for other people after a long period of making music I was compromising on. I needed to start again, to unlearn certain techniques and safety nets I was stuck in. This project and resulting record has been my opportunity to find my feet again creatively.


The entire album has a very cinematic feel to it.  What moods are you trying to capture with the grandness of UTRB’s music? 

I'm glad that the cinematic, visual aspect of what we do has come through the music. We use film in all aspects of our creative process. Projecting film in the studio whilst writing, incorporating it into our live show and making videos to accompany every song. I did a university degree in filmmaking and had to make a conscious decision which avenue to go down. This project has meant I no longer have to choose.


The music video for “Pressure” is pretty intense.  Did the narrative for the video come before or after the song? 

Afterwards. The narrative to the song comes from a personal experience of living in London at a certain period of unrest. The video suggests a character-driven narrative. More surrealist and filmic. I prefer when a music video has more of a short film feel. 


Although many of the album’s songs are about romance, the lyrics are a lot more insightful than your typical pop love song.  What does a love song mean to you?

Good question. Writing songs based on personal experience is always a balancing act of fact or fiction. My heroes, lyrically, are writers like Paul Simon who can make you feel close and then shut out in a heartbeat.  There is a purposeful distraction and distance that I like to use when writing a 'love song'. I feel mystery is more engaging. 


“Goldfish” starts as a continuation of “Pressure,” which made me wonder if some of the songs on the album should be considered as connected ideas.  How interrelated are the songs? 

Very. The album was written in one long period of creativity. Thematically, there are threads that run throughout the album. It's strange to listen back and hear where my head was. Like looking at an old photograph, I love the idea of full bodies of work. I'm not a huge fan of the idea that we no longer value the album as a viable art form. 


“You’re just a lighthouse nobody can see.”  This line from “Goldfish” explores a pretty dark corner of insecurities and emotions.  As a songwriter, is it ever difficult to deliver this type of honesty in your lyrics? 

Of course, but a bigger feeling than the difficulty is the catharsis. It's a way to express things that it's not always easy to otherwise. I'm a British man. If it weren’t for singing about my feelings, I'd stare at the floor and mumble apologies for the rest of my life. 


What’s next for Until The Ribbon Breaks?

We fly to Europe today. Four shows: London, Paris, Berlin, Manchester. Then we play SXSW in Texas and Coachella in the desert. After that, I am desperate for us to get back into the studio. 


What creeps you out the most?

Elliot, the drummer from Until The Ribbon Breaks.

Posted on March 2, 2015

Photography by Lamont Abramczyk