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- Posted on May 28th 2010 2:35PM by Marsha Casselman
The Montreal-based quartet is part of a generation young enough to, in its formative years, have been influenced by critically-adored experimental outfits like Animal Collective.
"We really appreciate how they push the limits. They're giving 100 percent of what they physically can do on their instruments," says drummer-vocalist Austin Tufts, in Toronto as the band starts its first major tour across Canada. "I was slipping a bit on the times, mainly due to the monitors and stuff [during the Toronto gig opening for Holly Miranda], but I aspire to play like the dude from Battles."
The dreamy pop-tinged songs off of their debut EP, 'Set Pieces,' has seen them labeled as a 'band to watch' and they're now in talks with 'lots of good, very nice people' at indie labels to release their debut full-length, 'Native Speaker,' expected early fall.
"['Native Speaker'] is going to be much more delicate and lush," says singer-guitarist Raphaelle Standell-Preston. Tufts adds: "We spent a lot of time trying to figure out what tones we really want coming out of the amplifier."
The members are definitely student-types -- with Tufts taking jazz performance at McGill University and keyboardist Katie Lee having studied at the Royal Conservatory of Music for much of her teens -- and this comes out in their lyrics.
"They're a lot about coming into the next stage of life where you're expected to think more responsibly and look back at all the mistakes you've made... learning how to respect people and love them," says Standell-Preston, voicing some Braids lyrics, "I touch myself to sleep / and awake to the sound of my own heart beat / and I want nothing more / than to have you like I had you before."
As for the inter-band relationship, they'll tell you they've been 'best friends' since high-school -- made apparent by the fact they often break out into song mid-conversation -- though they've had at least one rough patch. Standell-Preston and Tufts dated for three years in high-school before the band moved from Calgary to Montreal in 2008 for university.
"But we held the band together," Standell-Preston shrugs. Tufts clarifies, "Yeah, it was a bit tough."
Challenge lies ahead as the band hasn't toured for longer than a nine-day stint, and this one will see them spend over a month in the tight quarters of a spaceship-esque van they call the 'GPV' or 'ghetto pointy van.' They're touring for exposure, and unlike many indie artists, have no reservations about achieving popularity.
"Unless it's Lady Gaga, music that's liked by the masses is usually good music," states Standell-Preston. "The kids can't tell, 'Oh, she's making a reference to that.' I can, because I like art and I listen to lots of music. But those kids are like, 'That's really cool,' but it's really disgusting," she says, singing a little Gaga ("I wanna take a ride on your disco stick") before comparing it to unfavourably Madonna's "Like a virgin / touched for the very first time."
Given her introspective lyrics, frumpy long skirts and disheveled hair, Standell-Preston likely won't have to worry about influencing the same teenage girls. But they do have to worry about their next step. Whereas their EP was recorded in a day, they've been crafting the 7-song 'Native Speakers' for eight months now -- perhaps a sign they're feeling the pressure of recognition? If so, they won't let on.
"I'm feeling more excited than anything. I think [any hype] is relieving pressure," says Tufts. "It just means we don't have to worry about playing as many empty rooms."