Wem die weich-rauchige Stimme von Women’s Hours Frontfrau Fiona Burgess noch keinen wohligen Schauer über den Rücken gejagt hat, hatte wahrscheinlich noch nicht das Vergnügen in das neue Album ‘Conversations’ der englischen Indie Pop Band rein zu hören, welches heute auf den Markt kommt. Wir haben Will und Fiona Burgess in Berlin getroffen und sie zu ihrer Musik und der Entstehung des Albums befragt.
Teresa: You’ve recently been touring with Metronomy. How did that go?
Fiona: We actually learned from them on how to make a great atmosphere on stage by watching them and also when it comes to the music industry. They are incredibly warm and friendly people and I hope that I can imitate them, because they were just so lovely! There is no ego there.
I discovered your music when i found a remix of ‘Darkest Place’ on the internet that I really liked. How do you feel about people remixing your music?
Fiona: There are a few remixes and we really enjoy that. A remix is basically a collaboration. You rip it apart and put it together again, add some parts and it becomes a really cool thing. We like to allow people to have their freedom with our music and think it’s great that they do it!
Although the album is really personal and revolves around your feelings a lot?
Fiona: Well ‘conversations you have with yourself’ is one of the main lines in the song so it’s a motive that runs throughout the whole album. For me it’s really dangerous if you are too protective of your music. It’s always a process anyway. If we wanted we could work on our songs for ever, nothing is ever really finished. It reflects a moment of the time you made it but if you can’t allow anyone to do something else with your music then you’ll end up being too controlling and the music will never have a life in its own.
Will: I always find it so interesting which part of the song they keep and which parts they add. It gives me a different perspective on the music and I like that! We just got a techno remix and i love it. But of course if we don’t like a remix we will not release it.
How do you feel about putting music into genres? Do you feel pressured to deliver to peoples expectation of your style of music?
Fiona: I don’t really care. People can categorize us however they like but that doesn’t mean I am gonna feel bullied into making a certain kind of music forever. That is such a depressing thought to only be able to make one specific style of music. You’ve got to be aware that people will always want to categorize things- that is just human nature- but you should never let that prescribe the kind of music that you make. We never spoke about what kind of album we wanted to make, it just happened organically.
How exactly did you find your style then?
Will: Try and Error I guess. But it’s also because of the equipment we used. Me and Josh owned some old synthesizers that make a certain sound I suppose. And we used drum samples from the late 80ies and 70ies so…
Fiona: We all had this itching desire to get something across with the album, so in our own way we feel we have done that. We tried to find things that compliment each other. It was juts a long process of us trying to compliment each other if that makes sense.
What is your musical background?
Will: I had guitar lessons when I was younger and I tried playing violin when I was eleven.
Fiona: We grew up surrounded by musical instruments, so without realizing it we where surrounded by music when we grew up. With women’s Hour we really had to start from scratch in some way. The other guys had already been playing in bands but for me everything was new, so the process for them working with me meant that we had to go back and start in the beginning.
You write all the lyrics together?
Fiona: Sometimes we write the song word by word and line by line we just have to feel how it flows but there is no rule that we follow. Me and Will communicate best through music I think. When you work together so much you are constantly in professional mode and sometimes it’s difficult to switch back to a normal mode where we are just hanging out.
How important is your artwork for you?
Fiona: Really important. For the artwork we all wanted something that was iconic and we talked about it a lot. It’s also a conceptual thing. We make the songs and then from that it is fun to make the artwork and finding connections between the artwork and the music. It’s as important as the music itself. When our first single was released we had no control over any of that and we were quite wounded cause we couldn’t connect to the music and the artwork. So now it is really important for us to have control over that. We spent 9 months in negotiations with our label because we wanted to know that we were making the right decision and weren’t gonna be bullied into compromising. We like to be involved in every aspect possible.
Art seems to be really important for you. How do you think the music benefits from that?
Will: I think it can compliment each other.
Fiona: We’ve got an opportunity here to be really creative and collaborate with other artist from the visual culture. We make music in a Band but we are not just musicians. We are more interested in not being a typical band but really interested in reaching out to the world a bit more.
Is that why you have a reading section about self defense on your website?
Fiona: That was actually from a self defense manual that we collected and used for the artwork of ‘Our Love Has No Rythem’. That image looks like a strong unified image but it is actually from a manual where a women is defending herself against sexual harassment so the ambiguity of that is really interesting for us. Like our music the artwork just spoke in that kind of language of ambiguity and we wanted to continue that through all of the artwork. There are a couple of things that we are interested in terms of referencing things that already exist in the world. There is this constant pressure to be new and original and I think it is quite fun when you admit that the majority already exist, all the instruments we use already existed so in a way we are referencing every record that has ever used these instruments.
What is your main motivation to add to that?
Will: It’s a really enjoyable process creating music so even if there was no music industry. Of course we are using the music industry to make this our job but even if the industry didn’t exist we would still make music. I’m not jaded enough yet to question my motivations. Making music is like eating food. It is fun and I wanna get fat on it!
Can you still remember what first drew you to music?
Will: I can remember when I fell in love with music. I must have been five or something and our parents threw a party at our house. Which was a really rare thing. Me and my older brother where put to bed and we could hear music playing from downstairs. Our parents would constantly play music themselves but it was a really rare thing for us to hear recorded music. We didn’t know what record was at that time but we just thought ‘This is amazing!’ It was a Paul Simon Project, maybe Simon and Garfunkel I don’t remember but since then it has never crossed my mind to do anything else.
Fiona: I never imagined I would be a musician. I always dreamed about going on stage and singing but I never thought that would happen. Josh was always clear about wanting to make music but I don’t really know about Nick. I was always passionate about music but I never had the clear vision that I wanted to do it. When I was younger I never had the confidence to sing so it’s been an interesting journey.
Will: It’s a nice blend and that is why the artwork is as important as the music for us I guess. If it was just me and Josh it would probably just be about the music and we wouldn’t care so much about other stuff. But that is why bands work, it’s about the personalities and what people bring to the group.
Fiona: We are four individuals and we are quite different but we are all working together on the same thing.
One last question: if everyone on this planet made music on a daily basis, how would that change the world?
Fiona: That is how we grew up. There was always live music at our house and on Sundays we would sing in church. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized that music was this industry, which was really naive. Music has this incredible power to make you feel a certain way.
Will: if everyone made music and played an instrument I think the world would be a much nicer place. The act of playing music takes you somewhere else away from all the things that happen in the world. I think it helps you understand yourself. It’ just a nice way to take you to a relaxing place- unless you’re playing heavy metal I don’t know here that takes you. I don’t know what kind of person I’d be if I didn’t make music.