You can read my review here of Braids' debut album Native Speaker
FR: Native Speaker is an imagery-soaked slice of abstract pop if I've ever heard one. Is the album about any one thing in particular? Or did everything gradually reveal itself in the recording studio?
All of the songs were written before the recording of the album, so in terms of imagery stemming from the lyrics, it was revealed before the recording of the album. Native Speaker isn't primarily about anyone thing. But in terms of general themes, Native Speaker touches upon the loss of innocence , discovering ones sexuality, understanding ones personality; simply put, Native Speaker explains the process of growing up.
FR: What was the actual recording process like? Native Speaker is extremely precise. How long did this precision take?
The songs took about one and a half years to write. Once the songs were finished, we decided that we should probably record the songs. Going into recording, we had no idea where to start, no idea what we were doing. It took us 3 months to track the drums for 5 songs! Native Speaker was a huge learning process for everyone. At times it was very exhausting, at other points it was very exciting. We touched upon every emotion known to us during the recording of Native Speaker. In terms of it being very precise, we're all perfectionists in our own way. Sometimes I would record a vocal take 200 times or until I was brought to tears with frustration. I probably got it within the first 3 takes but I kept pushing and pushing myself. Native Speaker was a lot about finding when we'd achieved our personal best. Now I understand when I've done my best and now it doesn't take me 200 tears or takes to get it!
FR: How was Braids initially formed? Was it a long, difficult road to your first LP?
Braids was formed out of four very good friends wanting to play music together. A very innocent task, with no motives to achieve much of anything! After practicing for a couple months together we realized that we had something quite special. People in the music scene pushed us to keep going. We started to feel like we were doing something worth while so decided to take a year off before university and play a lot. It all happened very naturally. Depending on how you look at it, Native Speaker could seem as though it was a long and difficult road. I don't really like to look at life like that, so I would say that Native Speaker was more like a journey that required us to be strong and patient.
FR: The Animal Collective comparisons are unavoidable. How do you guys feel about that? Who does Braids feel is their main influence?
We love Animal Collective. Animal Collective is definitely up there in terms of our main influence.
FR: Where does your sound go from here? Further down the rabbit hole- or perhaps something a little more direct?
Further down the rabbit hole.
FR: You are about embark on a pretty relentless tour starting in September with Pepper Rabbit. With such a smorgasboard of noises and soundscapes, how does Native Speaker translate to the live circuit?
Well it was written before it was recorded so we play it very much like it sounds on the album! We use a lot of effect pedals. Perhaps live it is a bit more intense.
FR: Do you favor any particular track from the album? For me, it's a tie between "Plath Heart" and "Same Mum".
You must be the grooving type! I like Lammicken or Native Speaker. I am into slower pieces.
FR: Do you guys often get confused with the post-hardcore, emo band Braid?
Yes and No. It depends on if the individual forgets the s.
FR: Native Speaker is indeed an album best appreciated through a nice set of headphones. Since music is available in a variety of forms- CDs, vinyls, digital downloads, etc- is there any particular format that you guys feel is the best when experiencing Native Speaker? Or, for that matter, music in general?
I like Native Speaker on headphones, but it trips me out a little bit, I feel peculiar when I hear my own voice swirling around me, so I've stopped listening to it all together. We are all very into vinyl. We like the fact that you can sit down with a record and spend time with it. Music, I feel, is not given as much attention as it once was. People listen to half of a track, get bored, and move onto the next one. How do you understand a song when you only listen to half of it!? Also, with single tracks being so easily available on iTunes, people are now listening to music in a way that was not intended by the artist. Albums are concept, not a mash up of tracks, you have to listen to the entire album in order to understand it.
FR: Any advice to up-and-coming artists struggling to make it in the 21st century music industry?
Don't think of it as struggling and you'll be just fine.
- Fr. Jones