Internet helped Data Romance blossom

It wasn’t conventional, the manner in which collaborators Ajay Bhattacharyya and Amy Kirkpatrick first joined forces.

But the long-distance journey has worked a kind of strange magic.

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The Victoria natives met during high school through mutual friend Matt Morrison, the Sugar nightclub manager who played with Bhattacharyya in the Victoria band Lythic Blue.

At the time, Kirkpatrick was a singer-songwriter in need of a solid drummer, and Bhattacharyya fit the bill. The process moved slowly at first — Kirkpatrick was a student at Mount Douglas Secondary School, while Bhattacharyya attended Vic High. It didn’t get any more streamlined once the two graduated from their respective high schools.

“It came together on the Internet more than anything,” Bhattacharyya said of the pairing, which began operating under the Data Romance moniker three years ago.

“We had both ended up in Vancouver at different times, when we first started collaborating. Amy was working in Vancouver and I was sending stuff over the Internet from Victoria. Then she moved to Victoria and I lived in Vancouver. It just worked liked that.”

Bhattacharyya and Kirkpatrick are now both based in Vancouver, which helped immeasurably during the writing and recording process of their official debut, Other, which arrived earlier this month.

The electro-pop recording — think The xx, Purity Ring and Björk — was helmed by Bhattacharyya, a computer-savvy musician who handled all the programming and created the majority of the music. And while Bhattacharyya said it was the duo’s first attempt at a “real recording,” the level of collaboration remained as it always had, with the two artists in complete agreement over the direction of the group.

“Rather than having something completely finished, and sending it to her, we got together when each song was about half done,” Bhattacharyya said of Kirkpatrick, who writes all the lyrics. The process provided room for some give and take, something that wasn’t always available when the two friends were shipping song bits to each other through the Internet, he said.

Other is the first full-scale set of new material from the group since its 2011 EP Data Romance.

The group wasn’t necessarily starving for new material, having earned some mileage out of The Deep, a highlight from the self-titled EP. The video for the song is a show-stopper; shot in black and white, and centred on the inventive choreography of celebrated American dancer Lil Buck, it adds another texture to the group’s spooky-sounding, provocative pop.

Data Romance took a similar artistic approach to the video for Can’t Keep Your Mind Off, the first single from Other. The clip tells the story of a serial killer femme fatale, belying Kirkpatrick’s sweetly sung delivery.

Neither video features any images of the group, a bold move in a world of overexposure. “That was definitely a conscious decision,” Bhattacharyya said.

“We liked the concepts, liked the visuals. We’re both big movie fans, and theatre, to some degree, so visuals are really important. When we get the chance to have any kind of visuals paired with our music, be it art or video, it heightens the music. We’re definitely not showboaters or people who need to be in the limelight.”

mdevlin@timescolonist.com

IN CONCERT

Diamond Rings with Data Romance

When: Saturday, 7 p.m. (early show)

Where: Sugar

Tickets: $15 at Lyle’s Place, Ditch Records and ticketweb.ca

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