Thursday, 5 November 2009

Interview with Souvenir

I've rambled on about Souvenir on here before, and so after Ed at Sheflife sent me the couple of records he put out by the band, and after I'd listened to them to death, I thought I'd get in touch with Jaime and ask him a few questions.

I sort of lost contact with the band after the records you put out on Shelflife in the early 00s. Were you happy with those records, and what happened after them?

We were really happy with them, and the fact that they were licensed in the US by Shelflife and in Japan by Tone Vendor made us really proud! We had formed the band in 1999 and it felt great to have our songs heard abroad, and to be asked to take part in compilations like the Marina Records tribute to Brian Wilson (Caroline Now!) alongside bands such Saint Etienne, Alex Chilton, members of Teenage Fanclub and Belle And Sebastian… The original idea was to do French Pop songs in a contemporary context but with the spirit of the 60s. Then we started integrating other influences, the sound of bands such as The Go-Betweens or The Pale Fountains, and things like surf music…. Anything that we liked at that moment, really.

You sound seems to have changed a lot over the years - why is this?

It’s part of that impulse for integrating new elements all the time… we get bored easily, so after a couple of records we started dropping the yé-yé elements and looking more at other types of music we loved. So our third and fourth records (Recto/Verso, 2003, and Des équilibres, 2005) had elements of indie pop, electronica, 80s, country music… In 2007 came the biggest change, though. We had grown a bit tired of being tagged as ‘melancholic pop’ and we needed to do something totally different. So in 64 (2007) we embraced electronica and techno pop. In this year’s record (Drums, Sex and Dance) we’ve kept on that path because we feel really comfortable with what we’re doing now.
Are you big popstars in Spain?

Ha, ha, well… not really. I wish we were! We’re an indie band, and one that sings in French too… down here most of the indie bands sing in Spanish or English, so we’re a bit like freaks in a way. That said, I have to say that we’re really happy about our situation in the current alternative scene… we’ve got great reviews in the media for all our records, our songs are played very often in Radio 3 (the only Spanish radio station which plays independent records) and we feel really appreciated. Our label takes care of us, we’re playing love more than ever, we get to do nice videos… we’re happy. But we’d love to be more popular abroad, because we think that what we do could be appreciated in other countries.

I love the video to 'Monkey See Monkey Do'. What's the story behind that?

Well, this guy who directs videos and films contacted us to try and work with us. We met in Barcelona and he came with this huge notebook full of crazy ideas for a video. We discussed all the options and we went for that idea, a weird late night story about a boy and a girl monkeying around… The filming was done one hot night in August in Barcelona and we had a great time with all the crew and some friends who came to take part as extras… the video is a bit unusual, but we really wanted to do something different after a couple of videos (Allô, allô and Ta Machine) which were ‘nicer’. We wanted something a bit rougher.

Tell me about your new album - are you happy with it?

We’re really happy. It’s the first record we’ve made entirely in our studio, so our vision hasn’t been biased by having to use a producer and someone else’s studio. For better or worse, it sounds exactly as we wanted - and it’s taken us 10 years to get there! The sound is less polished than in 64, the beats are heavier but there’s still room for melody. These are the songs that work better with the audience when we play live.

As far as I'm aware, you've never played in the UK. Would you like to?

No, you’re right, we haven’t. We’d love to!

Who are you current musical heroes?

Vince Clark, Lux Interior, Ellie Greenwich, Bat For Lashes, Radio Futura, Duane Eddy, Suicide, Brigitte Bardot…

Is the band your full-time job, or do you have a dull proper job like the rest of us?

We have dull proper jobs, yes… nursing and teaching pay the bills! But we love our jobs, though. Plus they guarantee a certain artistic freedom – we make records because we want to, not just because we have a band we depend on to make a living.

And what's next for you?

We’ve sort of finished the 2009 leg of our tour. We’re hoping to have more gigs in 2010. We’d definitely love to be able to play live abroad. In any case, in 2010 we’ll start working in new songs for a forthcoming album and keep playing with our other bands too. So no room for boredom really!


String Bean Jen said...

Interesting interview, Samuel. I didn't know they had changed musical styles so much. From which albums/singles do the videos and songs you have posted on here and on anorak belong to?

A layer of chips said...

'Au Bord Du Soleil', which I posted a while back is from the 'Souvenir' ep. You can get that for only $7 dollars from Shelflife.

'Monkey See Monkey Do' is from their latest album, I think.