LANEWAY Festival mania continues, and this week, I had the exclusive chance to chat with a member of one of the hottest independent acts to rise out of Scotland in years.
Chvrches is composed of Lauren Mayberry (lead vocals), Iain Cook (synthesizers, guitar, bass, vocals) and Martin Doherty (synthesizers, samplers and vocals). Only a few short years since they formed, Chvrches have turned their rhythms rooted in the ‘80s into a millennial synthpop act hailed around the world. I spoke with Cook, who used to be in two other bands called Aereogramme and Twilight Sad, about the band’s beginnings, and the future of music.
The Manila Times: Where are you now and what’s outside your window?
Iain Cook: Today I am in Copenhagen, Denmark. It’s rainy and overcast. And outside (pauses) I can see some buildings.
TMT: The band really came together when you and Martin met Lauren. Tell me about that first meeting with her.
IC: I was producing in a studio near Glasgow. I kind of knew her from before, we say hello to each other. She doesn’t know this, but once she was working in a cinema in Glasgow and I had gone to see a movie and she gave me free popcorn! (Laughs) She doesn’t remember that. I was producing another EP at the time, and I was only thinking about that band and that music. Martin and I had started on a few ideas in the studio, and then we asked her to try out and do some backing vocals. It didn’t take long for us to realize that her voice absolutely fit together [with our music]and was something pretty special. And it went on from there.
TMT: Did you have common styles and influences? Was there an artist that all of you really liked and enjoyed listening to?
IC: Yeah absolutely. We kind of have overlapping musical tastes. Somewhere in the mid to late-‘80s, like Depeche Mode, Kate Bush, Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper. That’s the sort of music that we shared. I guess that’s where we initially meet the Chvrches thing in mind, but obviously we took it to a different direction.
TMT: Your band has been critically acclaimed since you started. That must feel good.
IC: It does feel good, but it’s not something that we think about too much. Likewise when people say “you’re awful,” it doesn’t really help. (Laughs). We just get on with the day to day, which is being in the band. Obviously, there’s a lot of work to do, lots of traveling and making music. All of that other stuff, while it can be nice and reassuring in a way, it can also be a distraction, sometimes.
TMT: You’ve traveled a lot all over the world. What’s one of the most memorable cities or venues?
IC: Oh, there’s been too many. So many great places in America that we’ve had an amazing time [playing]. I guess probably one of the most memorable was when we played the Summersonic Festival in Japan. Traveling so far away from home, and obviously with a different culture, there’s the language barrier. But seeing all of the people enjoying our music is something truly difficult to explain as in terms of how good that feels.
TMT: Are you looking forward to playing at the Laneway Festival in Singapore in January?
IC: Absolutely. I’ve heard nothing but great things about Singapore. Actually I’m planning [to stay there]maybe a week before we start with Laneway and get to know it. I’ve always wanted to go. Of course the food is fantastic. I really like experiencing different cultures.
TMT: How do you feel about the music business these days, with everything going digital and downloading and that sort of thing?
IC: Yeah it’s kind of a double-edged sword. The upside in my opinion is that a band like ours can essentially put one song on the Internet and all of a sudden people hear it and they pass it around and it’s so easy to do that now. People talk about you online and blog about you and the whole thing happens so much faster and so much bigger. Which is a great thing and we’re so grateful for that as a band because we wouldn’t be here and doing what we would be doing if it wasn’t for the internet. The downside obviously is that you don’t get to make as much money as you used to make. I think there’s no point in mourning the past and looking back. I think the internet and social media and modern technology will be a force for change, and ultimately, if it means musicians can still make the music they want to make and people can have access to it, then I think that’s great. I think it’s a really exciting time for the music industry. I’m not one of those people who’s going to sit back and mourn the death of the old model. Because the old model died and there’s a reason for that.
Tickets to Laneway Singapore are already on sale. Manila-based indie music fans can purchase their tickets via <ticketworld.com.ph>. For more information, visit <singapore.lanewayfestival.com> Email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow me on Twitter @pauljohncana.