Au Revoir Simone Interview
Regular readers will know I am a consumate professional. I take the biz called 'show' incredibly seriously. Even as we speak I am sporting a furrowed brow. I'm basically a 'method writer'. Like De Niro, who is a method 'actor', I can often be found standing infront of a mirror saying “Are you talkin' to me?” over and over in preparation for my next superstar interview. So when they said “can you interview Au Revoir Simone?” I quickly get to work. Months of diligent research and investigations later I arrive Chez Simone only to find a) they're not actually French and b) none of them are even called Simone! Swizz! But hey the show must go on, right kids?...
Bonjour Simones! For the Au Revoir Simone virgins in tonight's audience can you please state your name, starsign and favourite word.
Annie: My name is Annie Hart, I'm a Cancer, and I love the word 'accoutrement'.
Heather: My name is Heather D'Angelo, I'm a Virgo, and I love the word 'efficient'.
Still Night, Still Light is getting top reviews. Are you ready for possible superstardom? Writing “no Moët, no show-ay” on your rider and having your own jet or does the prospect of becoming more famous terrify you?
Annie: I think if you're right and we're totally getting famous and I lose my privileges of wearing my pyjamas anonymously in public then I am gonna be really upset!
Heather: Wow, I totally agree with Annie on this one. I'm don't want to be stripped of my PJ privileges and I don't want my cellulite to be publicly examined by US weekly. Fortunately, I don't think we're in any danger of either of these things happening. Just so long as none of us have a wardrobe malfunction or psychotic breakdown on stage.
What image, sound, colour or feeling do you try to capture particularly on Still Night, Still Light?
Annie: I definitely wanted to capture the near midnight blue that glows in the sky in the summer after the sun sets and white moon is glowing.
Heather: Whoa, that's exactly what I was thinking!
Songs like Sad Song and Anywhere You Looked could fix any broken heart (although I must make it clear this is speculation I am not a Qualified Doctor). What songs or singers pull you out of the trash on a rainy day?
Annie: Actually, I have a tendency to wallow in self-pity when I am upset, which is how I ended up writing those two songs in the first place. So I usually end up creating a downward spiral using Modest Mouse and Elliot Smith on constant repeat. I have to stop all together to get out of things and return to normality.
Heather: When I'm truly and utterly heartbroken, only two bands can lift me out of the dismal trenches. The Cardigans (I know, kinda weird) and The Smiths. I think I associate The Cardigan's music with my earliest experiences of heartbreak. They've become a kind of comfort music to me, by reminding me that I've been through times like that before and have gotten through them. The Smiths? Well, no explanation needed there.
If you could go back in time what would you warn or advise your younger selves about the future?
Annie: I would tell my younger self to have more confidence in herself and not worry about useless things so much. And stop giving myself guilt trips all the darn time.
Heather: I'd tell myself not to go to art school.
The lyrics are often more narrative than most pop, breaking the traditional verse-chorus-verse structure. How does the writing and recording process work within the band?
Annie: We all write our songs together and decide what every song needs. And we are aware that we're not making typical decisions in the structure, but it's not on purpose, it is just what the song calls to us that it needs.
You're back in the UK in July for more dates including the Indie Tracks festival. Are there any amusing (or just weird) English eccentricities you noticed during your time here?
Annie: They drink a lot of tea. But so do I. But I'm weird, so that's why I'm guessing that's a weird thing to do.
Heather: I think it would be easier to compile a list of things that aren't eccentric about the English.
Any hair-raising tour experiences so far? Have you yet been run out of town by an angry mob bearing flaming torches and accusing you of corrupting their youth?
Annie: Who told you about that????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! No comment.
Heather: Annie's keyboard isn't grounded well and sometimes it shocks us. That might be the most hair-raising experience we've had yet.
When I sleep I dream of a glorious rock'n'roll nirvana where the gigs are endless and it's always sunny. I believe they call this “SXSW”. You were there this year, can you tell us about it?
Annie: Warm and lovely and laden with margaritas, burritos, and cute music lovers galore. Plus I got a tan.
Heather: Have you been to SXSW? it's true the gigs are endless and it's always sunny, but believe me, you've got better festivals in England. Stay home.
Last year you released a remix LP, Reverse Migration (featuring Air, Hot Chip, We Are Scientists), who, alive or dead, would you dream to makeover one of your songs?
Annie: Erik Satie.
You've received patronage by The Outsiders Oracle, Sir David of Lynch. What one thing have you learnt from him and what's your own favourite DL movie moment?
Annie: Not only is David a calm, sweet man who is lovely enough to promote us as best he can, he's also a true inspiration. He's a man who had a vision for his art and worked hard to get the resources together to accomplish his goals. It's nice to hear stories like his and see how good things are possible to people with resolve and a vision.
Heather: Ah, so many favorite DL movie moments...but trying to pin one down is like trying to recall one minute of a dream you once had. I think he teaches by example. His work is obviously dark and disturbing, but his demeanor is peaceful and light. He challenges the stereotype that one has to be tortured and suffering to make great art.
You cite your influences as “Casio, Roland, Korg, Alesis, Rhythm ace, Univox, Yamaha, Nord, and Suzuki”. What drew you to make music and unlock “the majesty of Rock, the mystery of Roll”? A clandestine meeting with the Devil at a crossroads?
Annie: When I wrote that on our myspace page I was being completely serious. Our inspiration comes from the sounds that the keyboards make, that's what made us start playing them in the first place. None of us are so far technically advanced in our playing, we just enjoy music and making songs up as an excuse to hear the keyboard sounds in harmony, and also to get our feelings out.
Heather: If by “clandestine meeting with the devil at a crossroads” you mean “hang-out session at erika's apartment”, then yes.
My youth was misspent religiously hangin' out in record shops. Don't you think it's tragic that record shops are going the way of the Dodo? You can't throw your arms around an MP3!!
Annie: It's true. Record shops are beautiful things. But I feel very immune to their loss because they are multiplying like rabbits in Williamsburg, and wherever we go on tour has at least one or two amazing shops in town, so flipping through the record bin is very much still a large part of my life. But that's why we still release our music on vinyl, and the fans love it, so it's a wonderful feeling.
Heather: I wish I could walk into the record store from Pretty In Pink and see Duckie running around. Alas, those days are gone.
Oh I see you're Twitterers. In some respects it demystifies some of the magic from the rock mythology but on the other hand you can ask Larry David to think of a good name for a kitten. How are you finding it?
Annie: We are a very open band. We answer a lot of interviews, talk to as many fans as we can at our shows, and are sort of open books. So it's not really that unusual for us to be doing that. Plus, following someone on twitter is completely voluntary, so only the fans who actually care where we are eating dinner one night will be the ones reading it.
Heather: It's nice to know that someone out there cares about what you had for breakfast.
What were your childhoods like on the Mean Streets of Brooklyn?
Annie: I grew up on Long Island and was homeschooled until I was eleven so I lived with a terrifically huge naiveté that is still with me today and I am grateful for.
Heather: I grew up in the mean streets of Jersey. My days were filled with bicycling circles around my housing development and my nights were spent sipping on slurpies in the food court at the mall. I learned how to wield a super-soaker gun at a fairly young age.
A billionaire slips you a blank cheque to play his daughter's birthday party. What chaos ensues with your unlimited sack of cash (ballerina midgets in spiderman costumes, dog choirs, the Talk Is Cheap mime artists, an army of Line dancin' android Elvis's, etc)?
Annie: Disco balls and confetti and balloon drops.
Heather: Definitely a choir, not of dogs, but of real people. I'm especially obsessed with an Austrian girl's choir called 'The Scala Choir'. I would hire them. and arrange to have my drum stick encrusted in rubies.
I too was born to be a popstar and get chauffeured everywhere but somehow there was a computer error and now I work in a office and I can't drive. Is there anything you similarly can't do of which you're slightly ashamed?
Annie: Properly fold up a sleeping bag.
Heather: I can't drive either. Shhh.
Finally, in these troubled times, is there any little thing our readers can do right here, right now, to make the world a better place?
Annie: Pay attention to local politics and contact your representatives and tell them what you think they should do. On a local level it's shocking how much you can get listened to, because there aren't that many people talking.
Heather: Be curious. Ask questions. Don't walk around with your head up your arse. The only thing that keeps people from caring about things and being proactive about them is ignorance.
...and with those closing thoughts I actually do say “Au Revoir” to “Au Revoir” Simone (Even though none of them are called Simone and they're not even French. Double-swizz, etc).
Au Revoir Simone's third album Still Night, Still Light is out now in virtual record shops everywhere.