Julie Colero spoke with Annie, Erika, and Heather from ‘Au Revoir Simone’. We are definitely excited that they are back, and agreed to talk with us at a Northern Transmissions.
JC: How have the events of the last four years found their way into the sounds and lyrics of your new album?
Annie: Having more life experiences under my belt has really given me the ability to have a confidence and a vision. I think there’s a stronger feeling in the music, it’s a bit more direct and unafraid.
Erika: Learning more & growing has definitely impacted the group, our songwriting, decision making skills, etc.
Heather: I spent our hiatus from Au Revoir Simone working on my environmental biology research, so I didn’t really think much about making music during that time. Having both space and silence in my life gave me the chance to listen to the world around me and then decide what I wanted to contribute in a more focused way than before.
JC: Do you feel that solo projects and collaborations have changed the band’s direction in any key ways? Could you have made “Move In Spectrums” four years ago? What were the dangers of carrying on at that point?
Annie: I really learned a lot from playing music with other bands, how to shape sounds and structures, and create impact in different ways. But I feel the difference on this album is stronger because we thought the sound of Still Night reached what we tried to do, so it was time to move on.
Erika: it was totally therapeutic to stretch out and play with doing a solo project and also working with other bands and doing guest vocals. I learned so much, improved as a keyboard player through playing with other bands and felt armed with new passions and new skills as we started this journey towards our 4th album.
Heather: Our collaboration with AIR made me appreciate the impact that live drums and bass imparts to our sound, and so I knew that I wanted to incorporate more of that into this album. I’m not sure that “Move in Spectrums” could have been made 4 years ago because back then we weren’t interested in making an album that sounds the way it does.
JC: How did “real life” compare with life in the studio and on the road? What did you miss? What were you glad to have a break from? Was there a moment, collective or individually, when you realized that the band needed to come together again?
Annie: Real life is full of the everyday special connections and events that make life worth living – making a meal with loved ones, painting a piece of furniture, hugging your parents, cuddling on the couch and watching Seinfeld. Life on the road is full of experiences that are so surreal but normal they put your regular life into perspective: smoking weed off a beer can with Evan Dando, drinking champagne with David Lynch and Julie Cruz on a rooftop overlooking the eiffel tower, playing to an enormous crowd in Portugal who bum-rush the stage in a dancing frenzy. Real life feels real and tour life feels hyper real.
Erika: The most notable difference in having some “real life” time away from the band is that it gave me a chance to slow down & take care of myself better. I think it was just a natural stopping point and it was a natural starting point when it came time to start making the new album. We all had some songs in our pockets that needed to be shared and worked on so we made time to do it.
Heather: I totally agree with Annie!
JC: What is one instrument that the band cannot live without? Which instrument are you still actively hunting for?
Annie: I think we could live without anything, but I do know that my Juno 60 and Erika’s Juno 106 have been on every album so far. There’s just something about Roland’s classic instruments that sounds full and lush and gorgeous. And speaking of, I’m looking for a controller for my JX3-P.
Erika: Agreed with Annie that the Juno+Juno magic is something that i’m continuously in awe of. This album I acquired an arp quartet and a mini korg, both are amazing and inspiring. what i want in my life now though is a grand piano! (and a place to put it)
Heather: I’m not really an instrument junkie or collector. The only instrument I really value is my voice.
JC: Which elements of the band are the most playful, and what does the band take dead seriously?
Annie: I love the interplay of harmonics, which act like melodies above the melodies they can be so lovely and intricate and are so important to the music we make. I take everything I do professionally seriously, it’s the only way I can relax to enjoy it.
Erika: I think we have to be playful on stage to a certain extent. Even if we’re trying to keep our cool, so much is left to chance in a live setting, things get weird and you have to roll with it. We are very serious about our writing and recording. No stone is left unturned basically, no keyboard sound un explored or beat unresolved, that is when our trio of perfectionists emerge…
Heather: The early stages of song writing together seem to be more playful than the later stages, when we’re making more critical decisions.
JC: Are there any artists you still hope to collaborate with? How does the collaboration process benefit the band and your fans?
Annie: I don’t know. I don’t think about collaborations much.
Erika: I would love to collaborate with a director on a movie soundtrack.
Heather: I would love to collaborate with Giorgio Moroder.
JC: Your website claims that your music video for “Crazy” is based on one of your all-time favourite 80s movies. Can you tell us about the video, and the movie it is based on? Do you at times feel the band might have been a better fit in a different era and musical scene, or is it just fun to do the occasional throw-back?
Erika: definitely fun to throw back. I’m really grateful to be making music now because we are benefitting from all the electronic music pioneers but we also have so much technology today allowing me to make a song basically from my iphone which is amazing. The video was our best attempt at remaking the move After Hours with us playing all the characters. Making that video was the the most fun i’ve had all year.
Heather: When we were writing this album, we kept describing it visually (as we tend to do) and the phrases “Neon” and “New York City at night in the 80s” kept coming up, and eventually “After Hours,” which looks exactly how this album sounds to us. It’s dark, melancholic, crisp, contrast, funny, wistful, and energetic. We knew that remaking the movie for our music video was the right direction for the song.
JC: Does it feel good to be back on the road? Are you willing to share any secret group pet peeves or highlights?
Annie: I love touring. It is so exciting and fun and makes writing and recording music so tactile. I love meeting our fans after the shows and seeing who they are, what they do, and how on earth they discovered our band. Watching people dance and enjoying your music and singing along is by far the most surreal experience I’ve ever had, and I still don’t quite believe it’s real.
Erika: i’ve been enjoying being out there in the world again. I love taking pictures. and I love how quickly we can learn as a band when we’re playing every single night, it’s pretty special. I don’t like when my alarm goes off in the morning. van-life is fun.
Heather: It feels good to share our music with our fans, who keep telling us that they’ve waited so long for this, and that’s really nice to hear.
JC: Northern Transmissions likes to share bands’ five most influential records with its readers. Which records have shaped your lives? Is there any one album in particular that made you desire to play music?
Annie: There was always music on in my house and I grew up listening to Ray Charles, The Beatles, Paul Simon, Steely Dan, and a bajillion other records, but it wasn’t until I fell into the punk and hardcore scene that music became something I could see was made by humans. So I guess bands like Propaghandi, Silent Majority and even Modest Mouse and Eliott Smith made sharing my songs with the world a realistic endeavor.
Erika: my tastes are always changing but some influential albums that i was into before/as we were starting the band:
Belle & Sebastian Boy With the Arab Strap
Radiohead Ok Computer
Nick Drake Pink Moon
David Bowie Scary Monsters
Heather: Bjork “Debut”, Stereolab “Sound-Dust,” Electrelane “The Power Out,” AIR “Talkie Walkie,” Klaus Doldinger and Giorgio Moroder “The Neverending Story”