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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Au Revoir Simone: Still Night, Still Light, Shines Bright

New Album

Written by Cari Steel

Having begun their incarnation as a Cycling Cinema which premiered at 2007′s Big Chill Festival, and capsule The Magnificent Revolution have progressed into all types of creative, information pills imaginative and inspirational forms in which to educate people about renewable energy and ecology. If you were around East London on Sunday 26th April, adiposity you might have caught their outdoor, bicycle powered film screening of Nanook of the North. This was projected onto a wall of a warehouse building in Hackney, which also serves as the location for the next wave of art, music, discussion and peddling power which will be taking place this coming Saturday, 2nd May.

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So, what did I miss on Sunday?

“We held an outdoor cinema screening – there is no electricity or power in the building, and we felt that this was an amazing opportunity to use our bike generators to power a screening. Last week we screened Nanook of The North; we chose it because it is a documentary about the harsh reality of living in a truly remote, isolated environment which is devoid of all the mod cons of our society – so there is a nice dialogue between what we are doing with this building space, and the fact that it is a barren canvas for us to work with. Also, Nanook is based in an isolated community and the fact that we can project this story onto a building in built up Hackney – (laughs) – we felt that we had a strange contrast between the Hackney area and the icy tundras of North America!”

Can you tell me a little more about the events that are taking place this weekend?

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“This Saturday, we have a programme of art and workshops running from 12.00 – 8.00 pm at 6 Orsman Road, Hackney. The main event is a live art installation and some video pieces created by a few of the Eastern European artists that are connected to the group who are occupying the ground floor of the building. They are in the process of installing site specific works which are dealing with the history of the premises – it used to be an old vinyl building. It was closed down about two years ago, has been left dormant, and is now in the process of planning permission to be torn down and rebuilt as as a five story apartment building. Obviously this is will obscure the views of the canal and block a lot of the light, and most of the local residents are unhappy with these plans, so there has been a lot of support for what we are doing, and the fact that we are bringing attention to the fact that people don’t want these new buildings springing up.”

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So who else is involved in the activities?

“There are various different organisations that are feeding into the project and we go by the collective name of Resistance Unit. Within that is Magnificent Revolution, which is basically an environmental education project. We have developed the bicycle generators which we tour around schools, and we also do festivals and events – we teach people about renewable energy sources and using the bicycle generators is a nice way to get people to understand the amount of power which is needed to power the households, and it also gets them to reassess their energy use.

As well as Massive Revolution, we have also got a group called Data Blender involved for Saturday- they are a dance collective, and they do various parties around London in abandoned buildings. Basically, we are providing a platform in which people can come down to the space and utilise in a creative way. So anyone who pitches up can take part – the exhibition will be taking up the space downstairs and upstairs will be workshops. During the day we will be running a workshop on how to make your own bike generator – we will take you through the process that we have been through in order to produce your own generators, you can learn more about the context of what we do, and then you can download further information off our internet site. So all in all, it should be a good introduction to bike power and renewables.

With regards to the rest of the day, from 4.00-6.00pm we will have an open drawing club. This is a session run by a friend of ours, Sebastian who is an amazing art teacher. There will also be discussions about art and philosophy as well as the experimental drawing! After this, from 6.00 -8.00 pm there will be a bike powered open jam session held on the roof terrace where we held the Nanook screening. It promises to be an interesting day!”

For further details, go to www.magnificentrevolution.org or email info@magnificentrevolution.org
See you there!
Monday 4th

Californian Richard Swift brings all the west coast sunshine to us Londoners, order where he will be playing his latest album, ‘Atlantic Ocean’, at The Lexington.
8pm. £8.50.

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Tuesday 5th

Our beloved Maccabees are back in town promoting a great new album ‘Wall Of Arms’ at Electric Ballroom.
6:30. £15.

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Wednesday 6th

So far the week is full of brilliant names and their new releases. For Wednesday we have the lovely Au Revoir Simone trio launching ‘Still Night, Still Light’ at Bush Hall, which is an album we`ve been listening to nonstop at the office.
7.30pm. adv £9.

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Thursday 7th

Music evenings at 93 Feet East are always good. This Thursday guests are The Franks, Perfect People and The Velcros bringing some outstanding indie to the house!

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The Velcros

Friday 8th

The gig we were all waiting for. Zach Condon`s aka Beirut will be performing some major folk at the HMV Forum this Friday.
7pm. £17.00.

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Saturday 9th

Folks at Bardens Boudoir say: “Halloween only comes once year, but why wait?”. Right. The evening entitled Palacio de Los Muertos celebrates all things morbid and macabre, from Mexican Day of the Dead to Halloween to Voodoo Death Cults, Hawaiin-Surf Creatures, Gypsy-Funeral Tarantellas, and the Danse Macabre. Featuring Molotov Jukebox, Rasp Thorne and a few other bunch of creepy people.

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Sunday 10th

Brooklyn based Bishop Allen + guests David Cronenberg’s Wife, Fireworks Night, A Classic Education, Foxes! and The Woe Betides for some easy and soft indie at Windmill.
5pm. adv £6 (including free barbecue).

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It is no exaggeration to say that ever since we received a copy of Au Revoir Simone’s latest album ‘Still Night, website like this Still Light‘, dosage 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.

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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.

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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.

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(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!

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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?

We are playing everywhere; London, Paris, Berlin, Copenhagen, Helsinki.… It’s a busy schedule!

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……

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One Response to “Au Revoir Simone: Still Night, Still Light, Shines Bright”

  1. Gem Webb says:

    Heard you ladies on CBC radio today, loved the inner android line! Your tunes are fun. Keep it up!

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