Article by: Laura Eley
On the heels of releasing their recent single, “Gun”, electro-pop’s rising stars Chvrches are in an upward sprint that will see them debut their first album in September, as well as tour until the end of 2013.
As Dorothy said, “Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore,” or in the case of Chrvches, Glasgow.
This Glaswegian trio is comprised of Lauren Mayberry, Iain Cook, and Martin Doherty, all seasoned musicians with extensive previous experience. After experimenting with demos, Chvrches took form in 2011, and first premiered in 2012 with track, “Lies”, which they chose to release exclusively online through label, Neon Gold.
In a matter of months, the dreamy, darling, heavily-synthed band has grown from an experimental project into a much loved group that has been praised by the BBC, NME, and most other musical establishments with functioning ears. After recently making their US television debut on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, Chvrches are set to support Depeche Mode on their current summer tour, on top of playing a smorgasbord of festivals - including Japan’s Summer Sonic.
Before heading out on the road, Sticky had an opportunity to chat with vocalist and synthesizer-woman, Lauren Mayberry (who, by the way, also has a law and journalism degree), about the band’s touring, rapid success and future ambitions. Here’s what she had to share:
Sticky: So you're on tour for pretty well the rest of 2013 - how's that going?
Lauren: This summer is kind of running around and doing festivals around Europe mostly, and then in August we’re going to Japan, and we’re also playing some festivals in Sydney and Melbourne along the way. We’re also pretty excited but terrified because we’ve got a tour with Depeche Mode in Europe in July… they’re a big influence on all of us.
Sticky: You guys recently played Sasquatch! Festival. What was that like?
Lauren: The scenery is amazing; it was the first time that I’d been out there. It’s amazingly gorgeous, absolutely beautiful, and it was quite cool because it was our second proper, big, open air festival. We’ve done one in London, a couple of days before, and this was our first big one in the states, so that was really nice.
Sticky: Were the festival crowds different?
Lauren: I feel like with festivals, it's kind of different from your own show because people haven't necessarily come to see your band. So, you need to work harder to an extent, to make it... not accessible, but kind of include people, because, it's not a predetermined thing where they all like it - they could hate it. I've noticed that crowds in North America are very enthusiastic; there's a lot more movement than there is in the UK. I guess it kind of varies from culture to culture.
Sticky: Are there any festivals you hope to one day play?
Lauren: I guess in the UK, I’ve always wanted to play Glastonbury, ‘cause that’s meant to be a big and exciting thing. I think it would be really nice for us to keep playing a mix of things; it’d be nice to play some kind of folk stuff, like you know when you go to festivals and the line-up is not your standard big festival. I think that’s stuff is really exciting. So, hopefully we can keep an eye out into a bunch of different things.
Sticky: Chvrches experienced a pretty rapid climb to success. Was there a moment when you thought: "we really have something special here?"
Lauren: It's strange with this kind of stuff, because you just kind of play your cards and see what happens. We put the "Lies" demo on Neon Gold last summer, and I don't think any of us anticipated the kind of response that we got. We're very lucky that people have gotten connected to the band so quickly. It definitely helps that we all have had backgrounds in other bands. So we are trying to concentrate on writing and recording and going to shows and not get too distracted by all the shiny things.
Sticky: How does the Chvrches lyrical writing process happen?
Lauren: We usually kind of start with a sound or a sample, we’ll kind of mess around with things, and then you a get rough instrumental sketch of the song. And then, we’ll do like a nonsense vocal, which is always my favourite part, where you get the melody but you don’t know what the lyrics are yet. I’ll go away and work on the lyrics and then come back. It usually takes a couple of days to mull things over, and then you just kind of demo it a couple of times. I think that’s a weird one, translating it from it the page of the notebook to actually in the song. I always hope that it’s quite a nice juxtaposition because, although my voice is quite sweet in its tone, I think that it makes it easier for us to make the production a bit weirder, or push the lyrics a bit farther in one direction. Although it might sound sonically quite nice, it’s cool to have that juxtaposition.
Sticky: Was it strange going from the studio to developing a stage presence, or does it just happen organically?
Lauren: I think it definitely does help that we’ve all played in bands before and we have a certain amount of [experience] touring and gigging and things. Like, if this was the first band I’d ever had to perform in, it would be quite terrifying. It was important to us that the live show be a live show. Technically, I’m sure you could just make it all at home, and then push the spacebar on the laptop and karaoke to it at a gig, but that’s not really where we come from. And also, in terms of persona and stuff, it’s great that people have a persona they put on and it’s kind of theatrical, but I don’t have those skills I don’t think.
Sticky: The Internet has played in big role in how you've shared your music. Do you think this has effected how you've been perceived as a band vs. a group that uses the traditional route of recording an album and releasing it through a label?
Lauren: The Internet has been a massive part of our band because, although now we talk to people like you and we get played on the radio and that's awesome, at the inception of our band, it was just people passing it through the Internet to their friends, and little blogs writing about it. I think we're really aware of that. It wasn’t like they were being told by somewhere higher up that this is what you should like, and that’s really refreshing. We do try to leave it pretty personal with our online presence, so we do Twitter and Facebook and Instagram all ourselves. It gives a more personal touch to that and makes it actually feel like the band.
Sticky: Having grown up and started out musically in Glasgow, do you think the city provides a particularly nurturing environment for developing musicians?
Lauren: I think it’s a difficult one to answer, because I’ve never really lived anywhere else for a prolonged period of time, so I’m not really sure what it’s like. But, I feel like Glasgow has a very strong cultural community, so it’s really great to be living somewhere like that, where there’s all these ideas prancing around. Also, it’s really great – like people will ask us, “Do you think there’s any more good music coming out of the UK?” But, what they don’t necessarily know is that there is better stuff coming out, ‘cause we always see good stuff because we live there. So it’s really great to see bands like Savages and Pins and stuff like that getting picked up on the other side of the ocean, because they’re awesome.