In 2008, whispers first broke out about Brooklyn-based electronic pop duo Chairlift. Since then, the band that made music for haunted houses have toured with James Blake; performed a surrealist dance in London’s hip Boiler Room and band-member Patrick Wimberly recently produced Das Racist’s album Relax. Singer Caroline Polachek spoke to Rachel Preece about their new record Something and what 2012 holds for the band. Interview by Rachel Preece.
In 2011 you toured with James Blake in the US – how was it?
It was fantastic – James and his band are so nice and fun to hang out with, and his fans are very attentive – more attentive than we’re used to, actually. People would come up to us after the show and ask us questions about the music that were very detailed; you could tell they were really listening and curious.
Your new record, Something, is out on 24 January. Talk us through the vibe.
We wanted it to be a “yellower” record- more about sunlight and consciousness, but not in a ‘happy’ way; more like the feeling of being in an airplane before takeoff and the light from the landing strip is too brightly shining through the window into your eyes; it’s optimistic and exciting, but bleak. A bit isolating and strange, but kind of eternal. We wanted the record to have longer, sharper teeth, and wider eyes. We wanted the sounds to be more specific of a palette, so this record would have more of its own signature “sound” than our first one, which was a bit all-over-the-map. What we didn’t intend, but happened unconsciously, was that all the songs ended up being about very personal and introverted subjects – all of these songs are kind of monologues, something that would play inside someone’s head in different kinds of moments. If our last record was more about the Chairlift version of our ‘outside world’ (with songs like “Earwig Town”, “Planet Health”, and “Garbage”), this one is about the Chairlift version of our inside world (with songs like “Ghost Tonight”, “Turning”, “Cool As A Fire”, and “Amanaemonesia”.)
How was it working with producer Dan Carey? What influences did he bring to your record?
Dan brought a playfulness of texture- he loves taking sounds and making them have three-dimensional characters. We got very ‘synesthetic’ about how we wanted the synthesizers to sound, and the roles we wanted each one to play in the song. For example, in “Sidewalk Safari”, the main chorus synth was meant to sound like a yellow snake, whereas the background one like a warm, hollow shell, that envelops the rest of the song. Dan always had very spontaneous, brilliant ideas about how to do stuff like that. It really felt like he was our big brother, or a third member of Chairlift by the time we’d finished the record with him.
In autumn 2011 you played at über-cool Boiler Room in London, and performed your surrealist dance for Amanaemonesia for the audience. How did it go down?
I’d previously promised myself that I’d not repeat the Amanaemonesia dance (to keep it unique to the music video), but Boiler room is a show for DJs, and since we’re not DJs, we wanted to be as out-of-format as possible, so couldn’t resist performing the dance without the audience knowing about it in advance. I expected that everybody would hate it, but mostly I think people were confused and freaked out, in a way that they eventually realized was fun. I remember that right as the music began and the dance started; I realized that I was actually fully embodying the song; there was no acting, like there was in the music video. I really felt like an alien in that room, and it was 100% real. I literally was an ambassador of the song.
How has Brooklyn inspired your work?
Brooklyn is like a college campus – you have video facilities, theatres, a giant network of classmates – there are a lot of resources very close at hand here. It serves us in a very practical way, much more than artistically. Living in NY is a constant reminder of how small and unimportant you are, and how hard it is possible to work. However hard you work in one day, some young architect is walking past you on the street and they’ve worked ten times more than you that day. The city is a good reminder that there is never a safety net, and never a ceiling.
You’re playing Laneway at the end of January; do reactions to your music differ depending on where you are in the world?
Definitely – some of our favourite crowds are Paris, London, and the American South. Australia particularly is very in tune with Chairlift these days, I think they get our sense of humour and dream-pacing. So we’re anticipating those shows to be pretty crazy this year.
Check out Chairlift on tour here.
Something will be released via Sony Music on January 24th.
Today we’ve learned about the unholy existence of Bronies (apparently guys in their late teens who are fans of My Little Pony, like seriously) so why not take a look back to another dude thang: remember brostep? Rusko does and that’s why he keeps on making music even if the reins seem to have been taken by Skrillex in the meantime. Nevertheless Rusko will drop his new album Songs on Mad Decent in March, sockstepping behind the DJ-booth as we know him.
Watch his video for Somebody to Love here:
2009 saw The Big Pink‘s debut A Brief History Of Love, quickly making Robbie Furze and Milo Cordell one of the most buzz worthy live acts in Britain and beyond.
We hooked up with Milo in a Berlin hotel lobby to talk about their new album Future This and found out, that not only had he announced the new album with a “Lost”-like imagery on the band’s website, he also watched the complete series in one go. As we became seriously impressed, we checked for more influences on their new album.
When I first read the title of your new album, Future This, I felt like: Ok, we’ve been told A Brief History Of Love. Just where are we heading now?
We’ve always been not scared of both titles, you know? I think A Brief History Of Love was like a history of what went on and what had been written and how we felt at that time. Whereas I think this record is a lot more positive, it’s us drawing a line. Everything in front of us is the future. So Future This is just a statement, it doesn’t really mean anything. But it means something, if you want it to. You know what I mean? It’s complicated. But then not complicated. I like it, because it’s like a verb, like „Go, fuck yourself“ or whatever… Future This!
Here’s my second thought about your album title: Being a kid of the 90ies, I was reminded of Cher’s ‘Do You Believe In Live After Love’.
Wow! I really did love that track with the fucked up vocals and all. Everyone used to copy that, but this was like the original thing: Pitching vocals, everyone did that from there on. Well, you know, it’s a guilty pleasure. My whole life is based around guilty pleasures.
Talking about your new album makes people say the word ‘vibe’ a lot, talking about the new ‘positive vibe’ in your sound. To be honest, it’s there.
I’m sorry, I’ll stop using it, I’m not going to say it once in this interview. The V-word is a good word, quite a dated word from the 60ies, a hippie kind of thing, but it explains something, that is unexplainable. As much as music I like clothes and I like books and everything. Like Stüssy clothes, do you remember their ads from the 90ies? It’s all about a global tribe and thinking positive. That is really stuck in me especially while doing this record, writing about, what I was into as a kid. Skating and a lot of graffiti, mainly.
If I’d say your first album was sheer melancholy, would you agree?
It’s bitter, it’s melancholy, a horrible time, me being so burned out by relationships. Dealing with horrible, nasty and bitter people, who dragged us down and that’s, what we were in. So we were writing songs about it. And then, to go out and play that on the road for a year and a half and revisiting these bad times every night was really tough, so the new record kind of wrote itself. We wanted to feel good.
When Robbie and you revisit these feelings from your past, while playing live, can you even separate whose bad feelings are written into your songs?
That’s the funny thing, that it’s both of us. It both happened simultaneously within a few months. And then we found each other. It brought us together, that we both kind of burned out. And then we started making music together and that became the theme, without us even knowing about it. Our feelings are exactly the same, we’re like one person.
Do you feel like you created a monster at times?
I think, we have created a monster in ‘Dominos’, that song of the first record. Especially in England, it is such a big song there. It kind of ate us up a little bit, it became bigger than the band.
But then „Stay Gold“ is the first song on your new album and it opens up with a similar intense beat. Now that’s some decision to make?
I guess, it was a kind of footbridge. Personally I didn’t want to put that song there, I would have chosen „Give It Up“, which is more like an R’n’B jam. Because this record is different, it’s not like you’ll find ten ‘Dominos’ on it. There’s a lot of space and shit around it.
You’ve been joined by many musicians on tour, constantly developing your sound…
Oh, a lot! Colossally developing.
…then just the two of you went back into the studio. How difficult was being a tag team again?
Really easy. I think, with this band we’re pretty steady. We always tried to make a classic kind of music, something our dad would listen to. We could have done whatever we wanted, could have been really experimental. But we really tried to write classic rock songs. No – not rock songs but ‘classic songs’.
I like the way you just corrected that. So is it pop music that you do?
Do you know that band WU LYF? They coined this phrase ‘Heavy Pop’ and I wish we had coined that, it’s a good one.
How much are you and Robbie still working together as friends having fun? Or have you become ambitious about your success
It’s weird, you know? This stage of our record, like this interview is the most job-like part of it all. We have to be at a meeting, another meeting and so on. The rest of it isn’t really like that, although you have to be at the show. But getting up at five in the morning and catching a flight to Berlin is infinitely better than what I could be doing. Which is working in a pub or in a shop, which I’m sure I will do someday. One day I’ll be happy to be working in a record shop.
I just try to picture you and Robbie in the studio, I bet you spend a lot of time in there and made it a creative space. Who does what in there?
Robbie painted the walls, so I hung the pictures. The studio is completely black: Ceiling, floor, wall. On the ceiling is an old black parachute, there is a black sofa, black table, with our equipment on it. I hung the pictures of Public Enemy, Professor Longhair, an old Mardi Gras musician from New Orleans and a picture of William Burroughs and his look. On the floor there’s just wires, pedals, books, guitars, keyboards, magazines, take away boxes… We did it all in that room, four months all in the zone.
The Big Pink – Future This, released on January 13th via 4AD
Just a few days ago, we shared Miike Snow‘s new track, ‘Devil’s Work’, when it was still unknown if it would be included in their upcoming album. But now details about the LP have emerged and the Swedish pop trio will return with their sophomore LP Happy To You, in March via Downtown Records/Universal Republic. The album was self-produced by the band and recorded in various studios throughout Sweden. The end result features full orchestras, brass sections, and even a marching band.
Their latest single ‘Devil’s Work’ also has a new twist to it provided by Alex Metric. I don’t really know how to specify a genre for this one, but maybe that is what makes this tune so good. It has a bit of a house feel to it, but still keeps many of the same elements from the original song. Check it out and decide for yourself below:
Cyberdance main man Ali Renault – one half of camp-disco overlords Heartbreak and a fearsome producer of electronic funk in his own right is to release his debut album before the end of the year. After a string of singles for Cyberdance and a clutch of cuts on Andy Blake’s Dissident imprint, his full length expands on themes of distopian-ghetto disco, with song titles like ‘Dignitas Machine’, ‘Flies a Kungan’ and ‘Zombie Raffle’. Having had a quick listen of the album today we can assure it is absolutely fierce. Not to be missed.