Au Revoir Simone Talk New Album ‘Move In Spectrums,’ Explain Where They’ve Been for the Last Few Years
Au Revoir Simone have always been a band that doesn’t want to make a lot of noise. But when they want to be heard, everyone stops to listen. For the last four years, the dreamy Brooklyn synth-pop outfit has been especially quiet, as school, families and, well, life have kept Erika Forster, Annie Hart and Heather D’Angelo from making music together.
Luckily, Au Revoir Simone are back with a new album, ‘Move In Spectrums,’ which dropped on Sept. 24 via Instant Records. Working with producer Jorge Elbrecht of Violens, the group has created a set of songs that, while reminiscent of previous efforts ‘The Bird of Music’ and ‘Still Night, Still Light,’ shows how much they’ve grown over the last few years.
From tender songs like ‘Love You Don’t Know Me’ to upbeat dancey songs like ‘Crazy,’ ‘Move In Spectrums’ is an album with something for everyone. Diffuser.fm recently had the chance to talk to Ericka, Heather and Annie about what they’ve been up to since ‘Still Night, Still Light.’ They elso explained the desire to up their “beat game” and touched on the challenges of taking their synths on the road.
Let’s start with the question everyone has probably been asking you: What took you so long to put out a new album?
Ericka Foster: We took a break. So all of our albums take two years. Then we toured till the end of 2010 and then took a little break in 2011. So that’s why.
You three didn’t just take a break from the band, but from each other in a way. Can you each talk about what you have been doing individually?
Annie Hart: Well, I had a baby. So I guess that qualifies [laughs] as my own project. And yeah, I was playing in some other bands, some rock bands, my friends and also my husband. The thing is, we were busy touring all the way until I had Henry, which was two and a half years ago. So I think what mostly occupied our time was, as Ericka said, touring, [and] then these other things like raising an infant. And then we started working as soon as we could.
Heather D’Angelo: I finished my degree in environmental biology, which is something I started a very long time ago. And because of the bands we’ve worked on intermittently, I’ve basically gone back to school for a semester. Then Annie and I would record an album, and it got to the point where I had to finish my degree because I had to do a senior thesis. So I had to take time off in order to do that.
EF: I was still writing songs, and I was still wanting to do music. I was playing in a couple of other bands, and I came out with a solo EP last year. I worked with the producer that we worked with on this new album; and a lot of DJing and really enjoyed being in New York and getting to hang out with my friends and not being involved all the time.
AH: And if you haven’t heard her solo EP yet, you have to. It’s so good!
EF: Aw thank you!
Now onto the new album. When you started working on this new album, was it easy to get back into the groove of things?
AH: It definitely took some time to get used to and a space where we could practice, because our other space wasn’t ideal, and we have a lot of other things going on in our lives. It was hard to schedule. But i think the first thing I realized when we got back in that room together is that we really have this magic. And in playing in all these other bands — and I’ve been in all these projects — the thing I’ve realized is that the three of us really lucked out when we first met each other. There was just a magic between us. I think we were so young that one of the first bands we ever played in, we didn’t realize how special it was. We did, but we didn’t realize how unique it was. So now I think now that we’ve played in other projects, I really think our chemistry is just so powerfully us that it’s undeniable when we work together. It’s amazing when we work together. I love it.
HDA: Me too. Good answer.
EF: Yeah, good answer.
You worked with Jorge Elbrecht of the Violens, who Ericka mentioned she worked with on her solo stuff. What was that experience like?
EF: When we first started, we started demoing songs. We were just using similar drum machines on our past albums as placeholder drums. And one of my big goals for this album was to up our beat game. I was always interested in making my own beats and assigning different beats to different drums, which I didn’t really care about on the other albums. I would just let Annie do most of the decision making, and in my head, I didn’t understand drum cells or anything. I think [it happened] after doing a solo EP and making those decisions on my own.
So I reached out to a couple of different friends and producers who we got together with to make beats. But then we met Jorge and made a beat and found that we had chemistry together, and he’s really, really fun to work with. He’s just a good listener and can get the result that you want and was so fun to work with that I think it was very obvious that we wanted to be in his studio and work on it every day. Another reason it took so long is because he had to manage his time and we wanted to go in a certain direction. And he made a commitment to that and let it happen on his own timeline. And we were really happy with the record and loved working with him so much.
AH: He just has this special way of just … he just has so many ideas. And he doesn’t get upset when you don’t like a particular idea. He just puts up another great idea or listens to our ideas and then interprets them in a way that matches the song. It’s just so creative without it being an ego thing. It’s just so freeing to have such a nurturing, open environment. He’s so wonderful.
HDA: Just to add to what Ericka said, during our hiatus, we all got together to collaborate on a song with Johnny Marr for Ray-Ban. Because Ericka had been working with Jorge, she was like, “Oh, why don’t we do this song with Jorge?” And it was called ‘How Long,’ and I just remember that was the first time we worked with him, and that was years ago. And I just remember being blown away with what he can get from our keyboards and our vocals. And I remember that was the seed of being, “Wow, if we were to do an entire album with this guy, then that would be awesome.” So thank you, Ericka, for bringing him to the table.
Is there any song that was the most memorable for each of you to work on?
HDA: I’m just going to put this out there, and this might be Annie’s favorite, too. I would say ‘Crazy,’ only because we can just put out an album with just many, many, many versions of ‘Crazy.’ We just really didn’t know what to do with that song. It lends itself to more of a traditional rock band, and we didn’t want to sound necessarily rock. And we tried … I’m sorry. I was thinking it was going to sound all cool and synth-y and really dancey, but we didn’t know what we were going to do with that. Then we were working on drums one day and got Tyler Sargent from Clap Your Hands [Say Yeah] to do the bass, and it just really came together. But that was a long time coming, with getting how that song ended up sounding.
AH: My answer to that question is we are so meticulous. Our process is so painstaking. There are only a few parts of the this album that were not incredibly considered. So for me, that makes every song seem equally powerful. I remember writing parts for all of these songs, and they’re all so special. I can’t even single one out.
EF: I agree with Annie. But one I really enjoyed working on was kind of like a weird, random song called ‘Hand Over Hand’ that’s not a single and is probably one of the lesser known songs. I got to go on this amazing meditation retreat. And when I got back, I did the vocal right then and then we were making lyrics up on the side. Actually, the original structure and instrumentation happened because I was late to recording session, and Heather and Annie were just jamming on their keyboards.
AH: It was on my birthday!
EF: Yeah, it was Annie’s birthday jam. They were just jamming on their keyboards and I came in and was like, “Oh my god, you made something amazing.” So that was a memorable one to me because there was an ease. It just kind of unfolded in front of us in a nice way, and I always enjoy that rather than having to fight with your friends.
What are the plans for Au Revior Simone for the rest of the year?
EF: We have a U.S. tour in October. We have been working on putting our live show together, and the biggest issue is trying to figure out how to get our warehouse-size synthesizers on tour.
HDA: And it’s been really fun though, because we’ve been getting really creative than we have in the past and trying to figure out how to make our sound large.