April 11, 2012

Interview: Veronica Falls

One of THE LE SIGH girls talks to Veronica Falls in Berlin about how they met,
their favorite Slumberland bands, and how L.A. can get kind of crazy.

One of the most impressive things about UK band Veronica Falls is their ability to create pop music that takes on a rare melodic darkness in both sound and subject matter. From the first time I heard "Found Love in a Graveyard", I was hooked on both the ominous imagery the song projects and the undeniably catchy tune. Veronica Falls got its start when Roxanne Clifford and Patrick Doyle formed a duo in 2009 and eventually picked up members James Hoare and Marion Herbain. They released their debut LP on Slumberland in September of 2011 and recently put a single for the delightfully noisy "My Heart Beats". I had the opportunity to sit down with the whole band before they played a show at Berghain in Berlin to a crowd of very tall Germans.

THE LE SIGH: I saw that you have a new single coming out in April - how do this differ than your LP?

Roxanne Clifford: Well it's songs that aren't on the album but we kind of tried to experiment with the guitars a little more and make them a bit more interesting.
James Hoare: Maybe more pop?
RC: We thought it was noisier but the way that it's been received people think it's more like, super mainstream pop but it's also quite shoegazey and dreamy which I quite like, we did a lot of work on the vocals to make them kind of really work well together.

TLS: Do you have any plans for a second album?

JH: We're working on it...
RC: Yeah, we've just been writing songs lately and we've got about six songs that are almost finished and have ideas for more - it kind of takes awhile to get things to completion so hopefully we'll have one out within the year.
Patrick Doyle: It's kind of hard to get back into writing because we've been touring quite a lot and when you get home you have to kind of get into a different headspace and it takes awhile to get things finished by the end of the year.

TLS: I know you were touring in America before this, is it hard or strenuous at all to be touring a lot?

RC: Yeah, it's quite hard to keep a sense of normality at home but I think we've been really enjoying touring because that was the first time we did our own tour in America and we really enjoyed it. We went on tour with two really nice bands that made it really fun - Brilliant Colors from San Francisco and Bleached from LA. That's the first time we played our own show shows and everybody's been there singing our songs.

TLS: I know you're based in London but are all from different places- how did you end up playing together?

RC: Well me and Patrick spent a lot of time in Glasgow together we played in bands there and I want to college there and then, we all lived in London for quite awhile now so we sort of, we all lived in the same place.
JH: yeah we've never existed as a band other than in London, I mean we like didn't play together while we were living in different places.
RC: Me and Patrick got introduced to James through a friend because she thought we'd have similar, we kind of were looking to make music and start a new band so we just started playing together and we recruited Marianne a little bit further down the line when we were sort of looking to play live and we're all friends so, yeah.

TLS: You're currently signed to Slumberland – how did you end up on that label?

RC: He [Mike Schulman] has been interested in us from the beginning. Me and Patrick brought our single with us from the band we were in, and he brought that out and we were in contact with him and then he just kind of knows anything going on in the indie circle.
JH: Yeah, he keeps his ear to the ground. If there's something within his radar, even if it's really obscure, he'll definitely know about it.
RC: I think it would have been pretty impossible for him to have not heard of us.

TLS: Do you have a favorite Slumberland band?

RC: Well I was a big Black Tambourine fan when I was a teenager and we were just having a conversation about them today actually. He brought like, a Stereolab single too which was pretty impressive.
PD: We also love The Aisler Set, they're one of my favorites.
JH: He's done some good things over the years here and there.
MH: I'm a big Sea Lions fan, they just put out a single.

TLS: Did you see the Chickfactor show in D.C. and New York?

PD: Yeah! He told us about it when we were in L.A. a few weeks ago and Mike was really excited about it.

TLS: Do you prefer touring in Europe over America?

JH: It's a bit more familiar but it's still, yeah I don't know, America feels like you're further away, I mean you are geographically.
RC: For me, I find it, I really really like touring in Europe because it changes more often and going to the different countries but I guess like you can feel a little bit more detached because of the language barrier in all the different countries just cause, I only speak English and in America it's a lot easier to like make an instant connection with people at shows.
JH: I think that's part of America as well, that we grew up listening to American bands so getting to play there we get to see all these references from song lyrics and even just in road signs and it's like the holy grail of music, you've been listening to music your whole life that comes from America.
PD: I think of a lot of American bands we listen to so it's kind of like having a little family in a lot of different cities that you go to see, it's kind of like getting to hang out with your friends.
RC: It's kind of like a little treat because you have a lot of different friends in different cities
PD: You start to look forward to cities because you can just hang out with your friends.

TLS: Do you have a favorite city in America?

JH: It used to be New York but maybe now San Francisco or L.A.
MH: Portland's cool as well.
PD: It used to be New York but this time when we went I really really liked L.A. a lot and I didn't really get it the first time we went but this time we spent a bit more time there and I really loved it.
RC: We found a lot of really crazy sex bars.

TLS: Do you have any good stories from your American tour?

RC: Yeah, quite a few but probably some of them we can't tell. No, we had loads of really good fun.
JH: I couldn't find my clothes one morning and we were staying at my friends house and I just put them somewhere else and we couldn't find them.

TLS: Is there any cities you're looking forward to going to in Europe?

RC: We're looking forward to Paris, Venice...
MH: Oslo is going to be good as well.
PD: And Stockholm, it was a bit crazy last time we were there. Oh, no we're playing in Gothenburg. We've only played in Stockholm and it was a bit of a weird club that we played in.
JH: I'm looking forward to going back to Sweden. It's good going to places you've never been before, you don't know what to expect. I've never been to Copenhagen so I'm looking forward to that.

TLS: Copenhagen is great but it's tiny but it's a really nice city.

PD: We have a day off incase you have any recommendations.

TLS: You can go to a park that's filled with deer that's a little north of the city or Christiania where you can just buy weed from a booth and there's dogs roaming everywhere.

PD: That sounds amazing.

TLS: I went to London for the first time recently and since you live there I wanted to know if you had any recommendations for future London travels.

RC: We live in East London but we don't know a lot about it.
MH: Dalston's nice.
PD: Heath is a really nice thing to do when it's nice out because it's right in the middle of the city but it feels like you're in the countryside but you're in the middle of London and you can see the rest of the city, it's really beautiful. It's really worth a visit.
RC: My favorite place is the Victoria and Albert museum, it's just a really beautiful building.

TLS: So you're just focusing on touring and the album for the rest of the year?

RC: We've got some festivals and shows here and there.

TLS: Are you doing any festivals this summer?

RC: We're doing Primavera, End of the Road, some in New York...Fuck Yeah Fest.
PD: And South Street Seaport, have you heard of that?

TLS: I think it used to be Sirens Festival but I forget if it's one day shows or one big show.

RC: We lived in New York for a little bit and we saw Mission of Burma there, it's kind of one the concrete bit on the waterfront. It was a bit weird, it was like being at an office party outside.
PD: I saw Crystal Stilts play at South Street Seaport and that was really good.

THE LE SIGH: Have you done a festival in America before?

MH: We did Noisefest in San Francisco.
JH: But that was like a city festival so it was more like playing a show, like a small South by Southwest.
RC: We did South by Southwest last year. We had a good time but it was pretty manic though, we did like eleven shows in four days so we were just frantically running around and doing sound checks and it was really fun but didn't get to do much apart from play.
PD: The only night we had off we just had a couple of beers and passed out.
JH: It is a really cool city though.

Written by Emily Thompson