They Aint Heavy – Elephant Interview.

Elephant_theVonPipMusicalExpress

“Assembly” By Elephant.

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Memphis Industries are a record label I’ve admired for some time , a label that manages to pluck pearls from the raging sea of musical inanity and provide shelter and artistic succor  to a diverse mix of interesting artists ranging from the likes of Tokyo Police Club, The Pipettes, Frankie Rose and The Outs, Theoretical Girl, The Go Team right through to Dutch Uncles. One of their newest additions is electronic duo Elephant, consisting of Christian from Bristol and Amelia who is described as French-by-way-of-Pontefract (I think that sat nav may need fixing) and they certainly don’t disappoint.

They have just released their debut EP in the wake of a couple of well received 7”s which serves to consolidate the view that Elephant are a genuinely talented and beguiling proposition and really should be, in a sane world,  mentioned by many of the ubiquitous year end ‘ones to watch lists”  that bloggers and zines will soon be unleashing. Sounding  rather like a softer more emotionally connected Dubstar, or possibly a more carnal St Etienne the EP boasts a level of sophistication and lightness of touch that is a rare in a pop world that  thrives on “in your face” bombastic production, death by  Vocoder and OTT showboating. Elephant’s minimalist approach produces music that is full of languid, sensual beauty and haunting elegance proving that less is so often much, much more.

And Amelia not only posses one of those pure, crystalline voices to die for, she also has an uncommon talent in that she can keep singing whilst enjoying a full on snog with Christian as showcased on their previous video for ‘Allure’ (see below.)

So we grabbed the bull by the horns, or if you prefer, the Elephant by the tusks and chatted to the duo.

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VP:  Tell us some more about Elephant, who you are, what inspires you and what your hopes and dreams are?

Amelia: I’m Amelia Rivas my main hope is to clear my student debt. But my biggest dream is to be able to buy a huge house by the sea that I can have all my favourite people living in, where it is just footsteps away to catch my own squid. I will be the head chef of the house, and Jamie Oliver will be my assistant

Christian: I always thought the method behind making music was to be able to create the idealistic genre and sound that combined all sources of inspirations and emotions. I guess it’s almost like painting, a documentation of what I am getting my kicks off. My hope is to create a record that has longevity. My favourite records are those ones you didn’t grasp in the first few spins, but unravelled after persistence (Portishead, Dummy).

VP:  When you met did how long before you started talking music and how did the decision to create ‘Elephant’ come to pass?

Christian: Both of us have always been creating in one way or another, when we met we just needed some way to capture the sparks that were setting the bar on fire, and I guess Elephant was the medium we chose to express that emotion. Elephant seems almost like a very personal diary that is being thrown out for everyone to read.

Amelia: As soon as I met Christian, we agreed to meet up and make music, Elephant was immediately born. We had the same musical influences and work together so easily it was remarkable.

VP:  .Musically it would be fair to say it’s haunting, evocative somewhat ethereal, did you plan to make music that had this sort of vibe or did it happen ‘organically’ ( as they say these days?)

Christian: Everything we do happens organically. We start with a thought and build it up until it translates physically. Most of our songs are about escapism, realised through Amelia’s dreams. She sleeps with her notebook under her pillow these days.

Amelia:  Yes my lyrics are usually about my dreams. I have the most ridiculous, vivid, terrifying dreams so I think this most probably transpires into the music. This was never intentional; I wish my dreams would stop, especially when I wake up thinking my teeth have fallen out.

I think the music became quite eerie as a result of us having extremely long writing sessions. Our songs are usually made in the early hours of the morning, when the bad people of the world are just coming home.

VP: Your debut  EP Assembly contains four beautiful synth pop gems , are these an indication of what we can expect  on the album, which I’m believe you’re going to France soon to finish ?

Christian: We have a very strong idea of what the album is going to be, but it is very far away from any sort of written thing yet. We have hundred of sounds, concepts ideas and memories that need to be collated together. We’ve started writing the second album before the first, and now we need to go back and reassess. It’s a funny way of working.

Amelia: The album is a hurricane of new influences. We are really excited about the progress of it. Lots of 80’s synth solos with children’s screaming all over it. We are really hoping to be able to escape to France, I want to leave London and bury my head in a pile of cheese and pop music.

VP: Does Elephant still just consist of the two of you or have you expanded?

Christian: Just me and Amelia. We have other players and contributors, but we are a duo at heart

Amelia: The two of us still write the music, but live we have a new keyboard player Colin. He is tall and Swedish.

VP: You’re signed with Memphis Industries, how did that come about?

Christian: Memphis are like a family to us. They told us that they missed nurturing a London based band, as they had been dealing with a lot of American acts and I guess we fitted the bill.

Amelia: I knew Memphis from my last band UltCult. When I started Elephant I emailed Ollie our first demo, and foolishly he liked it. They are great; they get me really drunk for free.

VP: How do you rate 2011 for new music?  Good bad or meh . What have been your favourites?

Christian: Autumn has been amazing for releases, some of my favourites have been Active Child, Real Estate, Tom Waits, Twin Sister, Sleep Over, Future Islands. I think there is so much rivalry and competition now it just makes me even more ambitious to make an innovative record next year.

Amelia: I am not great explorer of new music. I don’t know how people go about finding it. I keep going back to golden oldie tracks, Earth Wind and Fire are my favourite at the minute. However, I do like a band called ‘Friends’. My mate played the track ‘I’m His Girl’ to me last night and I’ve been listening to it on repeat ever since.

VP: I always assume that people who are purveyors of electronica live a dazzlingly  futuristic existence serviced by a butler robot in a world  filled with all manner of amazing gadgets. I may of course be wrong, but what are your fave gadgets, musical or otherwise and what hasn’t been invented that would improve life immeasurably?? …..

Amelia: I am not good with technology. I have been a loyal Nokia owner all my life, it’s about all the technology I can handle. If I could acquire any musical instrument it would be a golden keytar, I haven’t persuaded the label to buy me one yet. 

Christian: I think the iPad is bullshit, well that’s my starting ground. I don’t believe in new technology or gadgets being that exciting, it’s reinventing old technologies that inspire me, and giving them a modernist twist. Of course the slow induction of cheaper home recording products has really influenced the music industry. Our advance with Memphis for the album was upgrading my home recording set up. I think that’s the way the industry is moving: independence.

VP:  How do you enjoy music, do you download , stream, prefer the physical aesthetic or is it a mixture of all.  How do you see the delivery of music evolving in the future? 

Amelia: I think live music has become the most important element of music. It is the only way artists can get any money, everyone is downloading left, right and centre (including me)

VP: Finally five words to describe Elephant would be……

Christian: Hypnotic, Fragile, Haunting, Dreamscape, Uplifting

Amelia: funky, tragic, bewildered, awesome, drunk.

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Machine Gun Etiquette – Pris Interview.

Pris - Cat Gordon interview The VPME 2011

‘True Romance’ By Pris.

‘Breaking Hearts And Giving Up‘ By Pris.

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Are you fed up with earnest young men sporting de rigueur beards, singing about the burden of being rich and misunderstood? Maybe you’re sick to the back teeth of  the seemingly infinite procession of quirky Brit schooled, incense burning, floaty robed, ‘mystical’ ladies who sing about the square root of fuck all?  Or quite possibly you have had your fill of homoerotic, metro-sexual boy bands and vapid overproduced, auto tuned girl bands? Does it feel like punk never happened, that the D.I.Y, don’t give a fuck ethic has all but disappeared as the musical landscape has been taken over by trainee accountants on a gap year who produce the aural equivalent of magnolia paint? Where’s the colour, where’s the attitude, where the fuck are the characters?

Well say hello to your new favourite snot pop,post punk pop princesses, Pris.  Tottering about on heels as high as their hem lines and displaying more attitude than the combined pupil populace who attend gargantuan tongued, culinary philanthropist Jamie Oliver’s Dream School, Pris are about to kick some life back into planet pop, or at least have some fun trying. With their stilettos’ sharpened and readied  to burst a few fragile egos, they  may not be the sort of girls your average designer nu-folker’s aristocratic family would approve of, but we at the VPME love them ( there is a male drummer by the way, but he’s hidden away rather like Bertha Rochester in Jane Eyre. Well they do say all drummers are mad 🙂 )  Pris don’t suffer fools, shoot from the hip and waste no time explaining exactly what is wrong with the current pop scene. In doing so they also cleverly manage to make one of their heroes,The  Manic Street Preachers’ Nicky Wire, sound positively diplomatic.

They’ve described Jessie J as ‘looking like a mental messed up Mystic Megand suggested that ‘Do it like an astrologer’ would be a far more apt song title. (Gossip Girl) Taylor Momsen is apparently ‘the most un-rock n’ roll girl you’ve ever seen- an embarrassing c_t’, and  latest indie hopefuls, the execrable Brother are quite rightly dismissed as ‘dire- is it even possible to be a crappier version of The Fratellis? They also have no time for the fey, pretentious wankery of Everything Everthing –‘Jesus Christ, we’ll actually kill ourselves if we have to listen to Everything Everything ever again.’ Whilst the feelings induced by the gurning unbearably smug visage of  X factor chump, Olly Murs, is nicely summed up as ‘having  such a punchable face- the dick.’ Oh yes this is indeed our type of band!!

However unlike me, there’s much more to Pris than nice legs and hilarious quotes, because crucially Pris possess killer pop tunes to match the attitude. ‘True Romance’ for example is a superb slice of post punk pop, reminiscent of Blondie , The Go-Go’s and Transvision Vamp at their best. ‘ Blue Tack Baby’ is bubble gum pop at it’s most disposable and indeed fun. ‘Crying After Kennedy’ shows that Pris are capable of writing songs that aren’t just about lipstick and  lashes, whilst the marvelous driving grunge pop  ‘Breaking Hearts And Giving Up’ sounds at various points like  The Long Blondes, Elastica and Kenicke. The deliciously titled ‘All That Glitters is Not Pearl Loweonce again demonstrates that Pris care not for egos or celebrity confessionals and any band that can mock the Klaxons mid song surely is deserving of  your ears? True, Pris may not be about to produce a concept album based on Arthurian legend replete with a centre piece mandolin solo, but if it’s short, sharp uplifting pop with attitude you want, Pris are here to use you and abuse you. You should be fucking grateful! 🙂

We spoke to singer Cat, and after calming her with offers a rare 90’s vinyl she agreed to answer some questions, we found her to be very much a CAPS LOCK kinda gal.

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VP: Who are Pris – and how did you all meet….?

CAT : PRIS ARE A 4 PIECE GUTTER POP HORMONAL POST PUNK BAND. IT’S A MOUTHFUL BUT WE LIKE MOUTHFULS.  WE MET THROUGH MUTUAL FRIENDS, HAD A FEW BENDERS TOGETHER, SANG A FEW COVERS TO EACH OTHER, EMAILED RANTS ABOUT THE POPSCENE WORLD AND HEY PRESTO.

VP: So you’re named after a replicant sex worker ?[From Bladerunner]  Why ? Will there come a point in your career when a possible stage entrance may  feature Pris style cartwheels  replete with Rutger Hauer look alike backing dancers?

CAT: WE WOULD LOVE DANCERS LIKE THAT FOR PRIS. MAYBE WHEN WE HEADLINE THE O2 ON 5 DATES IN THE NEAR FUTURE. BLADERUNNER IS ONE OF OUR FAVOURITE FILMS. WE LIKE PEOPLE WHO LOOK AND ACT IMMORAL, DESPICABLE, TRASHY AND CHEAP, THOUGH THIS DOESN’T INCLUDE BERLUSCONI OR GALLIANO.

VP : You recently opened at a Manic Street Preachers show, for a relatively new band that’s some achievement! Was it  a fairly nerve wracking experience? Did you get to meet and hang out with them after the gig.

CAT: WE WERE SCARED OF FALLING OVER DUE TO THE HEIGHT OF OUR HEELS AND THE SHORTNESS OF OUR DRESSES. WE ALL HUNG OUT INTO THE EARLY HOURS TAKING LARGE AMOUNTS OF COCAINE AND DRINKING TIGER BLOOD. OBVIOUSLY THAT IS A COMPLETE LIE.

VP : Cat, I’ve been told you’re a massive Manics fan and  have a shrine to Nicky Wire made from real hair, toenail clippings and biscuit crumbs  in your bedroom. Did you find it a bit disappointing for a band who sang ‘We Destroy Rock n Roll’  on ‘Motown Junk’  to appear on Strictly Come Dancing with a chinny octogenarian and that chirpy Vernon Daley lass?

CAT: THAT SHRINE WAS 10 YEARS AGO FOR CRYING OUR LOUD! THERE ARE NO IMPORTANT MUSIC SHOWS ON TELEVISIONS ANYMORE. ALL WE HAVE IS T4 ON SUNDAY MORNINGS AND JOOLS HOLLAND. AS GREAT AS THESE SHOWS ARE THEY WILL NEVER BE AS IMPORTANT AS TOP OF THE POPS FOR US.  WE LOVED TOP OF THE POPS SO MUCH THAT A PRIS VS BBC MASSACRE WAS CONTIMPLATED WHEN IT CLOSED. I WOULD OF SETTLED FOR CD:UK WITH THOSE NICE GEORDIE SHORTIES BUT THEN THAT BUGGERED OFF TOO. SO FOR PRIME TIME MUSICAL FLAUNTING I THINK DOING STRICTLY WAS AN ASTUTE CHOICE.


VP : Damn you with your well thought out answers ! Ok so what have you got planned, band wise in the coming year ?  You of course realise ‘True Romance’ has to be a single at some point?

CAT: WE’RE GOING INTO THE STUDIO IN THE NEXT WEEK OR SO TO RECORD OUR DEBUT SINGLE. WE STILL HAVEN’T DECIDED WHAT SONG BECAUSE WE HAVE TOO MANY GOOD ONES-WE’RE SURE MUMFORD AND SONS DIDN’T HAVE THIS PROBLEM.

VP : So what do you reckon about the current state of the music scene ? Too much earnest nu-folk,  too many shite manufactured pop stars?  What would you change if you had the power?  The beheading of Simon Cowell, BBC radio announcing a ban on Brit school kids ?

CAT: THE MUSIC SCENE IS A STATE , A COMPLETE MESS, FULL OF FLITHY RICH FUCKERS ON FIDDLES, UNSIGHTLY POPSTARS WITH GUITARS, UNDERWEAR SHOWING EMOS WITH ASYMMETRIC HAIRSTYLES, AND SIMON COWELL IS NOT TO BLAME FOR ANY OF THIS. WHERE HAVE ALL THE GOOD ONES GONE? IT NEEDS A PRIS MAKEOVER PRONTO.

VP:  Who would you say are the most iconic musicians’ past/present, ones who broke the mould and did something a little different. Gary Barlow is obviously a given.

CAT: COURTNEY LOVE FOR HER BABYDOLL DRESSES AND HER GORGEOUS SCREEHCING AND INSANELY GOOD LYRICS. IAN CURTIS FOR BEING YOUNG, NORTHERN, BEAUTIFUL AND HEARTBREAKING

VP: And as a tribute to your song ‘Blue-Tack Baby, who did you first have a teen crush on….

CAT: MUSIC AND COOLEST WISE PAUL SIMONON THE CLASH BASSIST. MY GOD, I STILL DO, I THINK (AND STILL WOULD) NON MUSIC WISE SHAWN MICHAELS FROM WWF WRESTLING. DOH.

VP: I think everybody should follow you on twitter for your chuckle inducing tweets’    So   who’s been pissing you off this week?

CAT: LILY ALLEN AND HER BULIMIA, WHO CARES? EVERY ONE FUCKING WOMEN/GIRL/TEENAGER  I KNOW HAS HAD AN EATING DISORDER, YET SHE ADMITS IT ON NATIONAL TELEVISION, THAT IN ITSELF FUCKS ME OFF.

VP: As mentioned you’ve already opened for the Manics, what would top that ? What would be the ultimate musical zenith for Pris.

CAT: A CLOTHING RANGE AND CHRISTIAN BALE AS OUR NUMBER ONE GROUPIE

VP: Five things you plan to do this week ?

CAT: EAT, SLEEP, FUCK, DRINK, SMOKE.

Pris - The VPME Interview 2011

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‘Blue Tack Baby’ By Pris.