Five Minutes with AR/CO: The electronic duo bringing psychedelic bangers to the arena

HUNGER sits down with the group following the release of their latest single, ‘All Over The World’.

The surreal musical world of AR/CO conjures up feelings of a late-night rave in the seclusion of a desert oasis, providing the sonic equivalent of witnessing a glorious sunrise after an evening of hedonism. The duo’s winning formula of psychedelic-infused electronica has led to them supporting 5 Seconds of Summer on their European tour, bringing their surreal rave-ready bangers to an arena setting. Consisting of Mali-Koa and Leo Stannard, both bring a set of unique experience to the group. Mali-Koa was born in Australia to a family of Maori heritage and is already an established and successful songwriter. Meanwhile, British-born Stannard has writing credits for a host of successful acts including Camelphat. The two came together as AR/CO during lockdown and have since seen a meteoric rise, collaborating with a whole host of established stars, including Don Diablo, The Stickmen Project, and Sub Focus, just to name a few. 

Now, the group are continuing their upward trajectory with their latest single, ‘All Over The World’. The track combines everything that the duo does best, providing a serotonin-boosting dance hit that’ll give you the surge of energy you need to hit the dance floor all night. Featuring a groovy guitar riff and glittery synths, the three-minute track makes for a transcendent experience. The only downside? We won’t get to hear it with the sun beating down on us for at least another 6/7 months. Here, we sit down with AR/CO to discuss their latest single, touring arena’s and much more…

Congrats on your upcoming single, ‘All Over The World’. How did the track come together, and what was the inspiration behind it? 

We wrote this one on a hot day in Brighton, in the UK. We remember it well cos it was packed on the train there and we got to swim in the sea afterwards. We were both going through big transitions in our lives, and with love, everything felt a bit melancholic despite the sunshine. It’s like we captured a bit of summertime sadness when something comes to an end and you’re trying to get through it. 

You’re currently on tour with 5 Seconds of Summer. What has that experience been like playing in these massive arenas?

It’s been absolutely mental for us to play in such big venues and in front of such great crowds. We played our hometown, London O2, the other day, which is a 20,000 cap. It’s rare you get a chance to be an opening act and receive such love from the crowd. They’re there from start to end and always vibing. It’s been an absolute pleasure for us. 

How would you describe an AR/CO show to anyone who’s never been?

It’s an escape from everyday life – somewhere to dance and feel free with no inhibitions! We try to take you to planet AR/CO. It’s out of this world. It’s four to the floor and loud and fun. 

What’s on your rider for a show?

0% alcohol beers, Mali doesn’t drink. Two bottles of wine for Leo. Prawn cocktail crisps flown in from the UK. Manuka honey. Yankee candles. 

Is there a particular venue/location you dream of playing at one day?

We’ve always said we’d love to play at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado. It feels like it’s a venue that belongs on planet AR/CO. 

Who would be your dream artist to share a stage with?

Bring back Daft Punk, and then that would be a gig of a lifetime. 

What album would you choose to soundtrack your life?

Currents by Tame Impala has soundtracked a lot of our travels together over the past few years. A lot of memories have been made to those sweet synths. 

Who would you say has been the biggest inspiration to you both throughout your career?

There have been so many, and separately, we’ve covered so much ground in music, but together as AR/CO, it’d probably be Empire of the Sun. Their creative freedom, musically and visually, has definitely helped us build the AR/CO world. 

What song are you playing to get a party started?

‘Purple Hat’ by Sofi Tukker. 

What was the last song that made you tear up?

Whenever we hear the boys playing ‘Ghost of You’ on this 5sos tour. 

What’s the worst advice you’ve ever received?

Having a bad day? No worries! Wear sunglasses. Now you’re having a bad evening. 

What can we expect from you for the rest of the year?

We can expect to be locked away in a studio writing and producing, so you can expect lots of the finest new music around. AR/CO world rolls on in full force til we break for Xmas, of course.

WriterChris Saunders