It is no exaggeration to say that ever since we received a copy of Au Revoir Simone’s latest album ‘Still Night, Still Light‘, we have had it on almost continuous play. Personally, I feel the mark of a great record is that it becomes the soundtrack to your life, and trust me, this one has not left my side and shows no intention of doing so. Still Night, Still Light (released through Moshi Moshi Records) is the third album from the Brooklyn based trio, and the band’s members, Heather D’angelo, Erika Forster and Annie Hart have unquestionably pulled off a hat trick. Brilliantly executed, warm and personal; if you listen to the record with your headphones on, it’s as if the girls are directing their pitch perfect and intimate harmonies solely to you. From 18th May, you will be able to get your hands on a copy and if you do so, you won’t have to search further for your soundtrack to the summer. As a taster; the first single Shadows will be released on 4th May. Before they set off on their European tour, I called up Heather and found out more about the making of this album, their musical influences and styles, and why this time around, they are twittering their tours.
Good morning! Is today going to be an Au Revoir Simone day or a Heather day?
Every day is an Au Revoir Simone day. (laughs) We have band practice today, and we are doing a couple more interviews as well. We are doing a few performances already – we are starting our major headlining tour soon and will be in Europe and then America and then the cycle will continue for…. I don’t know! A long time!
Amelia’s Magazine obviously love this record, and judging by reviews, we are not the only ones…..
We are getting a really positive response, which makes us happy, and is very encouraging, because we as a band we really believe in this one and we finally feel that we made the record that we wanted to. The last two records had a few disappointments but with this one, we are really proud of every song on the album and we feel like we finally have an album that represents who we really are.
Tell us a little about the process of making this album…
We were really nomadic with the recording of this one, we couldn’t afford to go to a real studio, so we recorded literally everywhere, we even recorded at our producers mother in-law’s house (laughs). We did some studio stuff in Brooklyn, but we were never anywhere for that long. We mixed it in Sacramento and things really came together then in those two weeks. Mixing was where everything started to sound really cohesive. All these bits and pieces that we had recorded in the past month started making sense.
If I were to imagine a setting where the album was recorded, I would have imagined a dusty mountain top cabin in the Catskills!
I wish that I could say that we recorded it in a fairy cave, and we had magical tea every day! We don’t have the budget for that yet! (laughs)
How do you all collaborate on the tracks? Every song seems so cohesive.
Where the album is more cohesive is the result of the girls and I touring and spending every day together for two years, when you are with the same people for two years, you become a lot more similar in style, and when you are experiencing the same things, well… we were going through the all same things emotionally and that reflects in the songs.
Your styles seem so similar – but does anyone ever say, ‘ let’s throw in thrashing metal guitar and see what happens?’
(laughs) No, we are all really similar people, and musically, we are also all similar. Annie has a punk, wild side, and she has a side band called Uninhabitable Mansions; that is not particularly Au Revoir Simon-ey (laughs) and she knows that. Erika writes more folky music, but all of the things that we choose to bring to the table are ‘Au Revoir Simone’ style. But before with earlier albums we would bring everything, all different styles of music, and it kind of made it disjointed. So, for this one, we would bring in the stem of the song – sometimes it’s a verse or a chorus and one will play it for the others, and we would work on it and work on it until it was perfect. It may not end up being the song that you first had in your head, but that is the fun part; seeing how it is going to grow once we all put our hands on it! Actually our favourite way of working is when we get to play for ourselves. We will riff for hours and hours and our songs come out of that.
(photograph by Imma Varandela)
Your style is described as warm and organic electronic music. It is a hard thing to pull off – making electronic music seem accessible – isn’t it? Is it warm because there are three women singing, or do you have to make a conscious effort to make the audience feel like they are listening to something intimate?
I think that is the main thing that we think about when we are writing, and also a large source of our disappointment of what we have done in the past. Having the instruments that we use come off in the recording as warm and airy has been really, really difficult. ….. We would try everything; at first we would go straight into Pro Tools, which made it sound cold, and then we tried layering, and that didn’t work. For this one, Tom (our producer) said ‘pair it down, don’t use ten keyboards, use two and we will amp it so that the one keyboard sounds huge.’ That is a big lesson that we learnt on this album, how to make it even warmer, and also with three girls, it kind of makes it sound like a choir (laughs)
The harmonies are amazing, I feel like there is a French sound to your music; it reminds me of Stereolab and Air; do these bands influence you?
Oh, saying it sounds like Stereolab is the highest compliment ever! My two favourite bands are Air and Stereolab. I love French weird, electronic music, and what I love about those bands is that they never sound cold. And I love Electrelane; they were a keyboard band who also sound really warm. Too bad they are not together anymore.
Electrelane? I hadn’t heard of them.
Check out the The Power Out album.
I will! The last time Amelia’s Magazine met you was 2007, how have things changed since then? I take it that your schedules have got very busy. Is it all about the band now?
Yes, it’s all about the band now, once we start recording everything else goes out the window – It’s Au Revoir Simone every day!
I saw that you Twittered some recent festivals. What do you think of this whole social networking business?
I don’t really know what to think of Twitter, it was a suggestion from a couple of people, so we twittered about the South by South West Festival that we played, but it felt like shouting into the void. You know, is anybody listening? (laughs) I don’t see how it will be practical for us to do it in Europe!
Right, next stop Europe! Where is the tour taking you?
Check out Au Revoir Simone’s website for further details of upcoming dates and album info. And maybe see some of you at their London show? I can’t wait……
- Au Revoir Simone
- Au Revoir Simone at the Garage: Live Review
- Au Revoir Simone Are Staying Golden
- Boo, Forever introduce the video for Motif
- In conversation with Little Fish