Delta Rae Talk "Carry the Fire"
Tue, 11 Dec 2012 07:28:52
Delta Rae cast an elegant and ethereal spell on Carry the Fire.
It's the kind of wild and wonderful magic that makes for classic records, and it arises from the immaculate interplay of these six creative souls. Carry the Fire tows the line between indie rock energy and folk bliss, yielding an undeniable sound in the process. Delta Rae truly take flight here.
They kick off a tour with ZZ Ward in January, but Delta Rae's Brittany Hölljes spoke to ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino about Carry the Fire and so much more in this exclusive interview.
Did you have one vision or vibe in mind for Carry the Fire?
Honestly, I know a lot of artists intend to write an album that's sort of conceived as a whole. In our case, we've been a band for almost three years and have had a lot of songs that we've filtered through and performed for a long time and eventually decided weren't right for us. We culled it down the songs that were our favorites and told the most honest stories. We wanted to enter the scene with ourselves wide open. People can connect if they want to. That was the vision behind the songs we chose for the album. Ultimately, there are a lot of songs on the record about ghosts and the Hölljes family specifically. That ended up being a theme. I don't think we went into it wanting to write a "ghost" album. That's more how it ultimately came together.
Those ghosts evoke a lot of memories, and the stories come across vividly.
Yes! We hoped they would.
Was telling stories part of the intention?
It wasn't our intention, but my brothers just write that way. They can't help themselves. We are very much aware of how music intrinsically ties into people's visual experiences. That's why we make the videos we do. It makes sense to us, and a visual really helps with our generation. Ian [Hölljes] is the primary songwriter. He's a huge reader and writer himself. He studied under wonderful writing teachers, and he has a very descriptive way of writing. That's his style.
What's your favorite song on the record right now?
That's so tough! I really love all of them. I have to cull it down to two because I can't pick just one. Now, I want it to be three [Laughs]. The first is "Holding On to Good". It's weird because I sing it but I don't mean to be narcissistic. I love the build on that song. It's so powerful. It achieves what we wanted. It's anthemic. It's visual. It is my story so it hits home for me every time because it's what I've lived and felt. "Dance in the Graveyards" is so satisfying. It has this one moment where it takes everything down to a quieter level and bursts with joy in the next line. Then, I think "Surrounded" is one of the most raw and real songs on the record. We don't perform it live much. It just exists on the record. That's part of what is so wonderful about it to me. It's not often that I even get to hear it, which is why I like it so much.
How does "Holding On to Good" tell your story?
We're really fortunate in that the songwriters—Ian and Eric—really connect with all of us. They're so close to Liz and I that they're very sensitive and in touch with our lives and what we're going through. I feel really lucky in that way. I moved out to North Carolina to be in the band. I left my longtime boyfriend behind in California. Ian began writing "Holding Onto Good" how he writes most songs. A lyric and melody come to him, and he pursues it trying to tease out a story. Early on, he realized he was telling my story. Because we were all living together so close, we were talking constantly about our lives. We had the closeness. Ian tapped into my feelings and experience and started to create to music. It's amazing and miraculous that he has that skill. I helped in the sense that I guided him as to when it felt real or true. Ultimately, he wrote it, and it's wonderful I get to sing it. It's also wonderful I have a brother who cares enough about my feelings to write about them.
What's the story behind "Unlike Any Other"?
That's my favorite too [Laughs]. Eric wrote that out of nowhere. We hadn't even performed it before we recorded the album so it was like a last minute addition. It had to be because it was so different and stark. It has the power of just two voices. Elizabeth and Eric sing on it. I love that about it. Otherwise, the album is very rich in four-part harmony. That's kind of our thing, but to showcase Liz and Eric like that was so powerful. It really achieved something great. Liz's vocal is just stunning. It was recorded in one take, and it was very real. I love it.
Where did the title Carry the Fire come from?
That's a great question! It's from "Is There Anyone Out There". It's a song about the disillusionment of growing up. You think you're going to be something great. In so many cases, you have to do the work. You have to go to a job every day, and you're not quite the hero you envisioned yourself to be when you were young. "Carry the Fire" is a line we repeat three times in that song. It's very powerful. It talks about how all we can do in life is try to carry on. We inherit something from the generation before, and we have no control over what they give us. We're trying to make something of it in our lifetime. Our generation is trying to make an impact, but ultimately the mantle will be picked up by the generation after us. There's nothing we can do to control what they do with what they're given. It talks about the human condition and how all we can do is carry on and carry the fire from one generation to the next hoping for the best.
If you were to compare Carry the Fire to a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
Wow! That is such a good question. We were trying to make the musical equivalent of those movies that make you feel so good. They're intellectual, have stunning soundtracks, and a story that pulls on your heart. A movie I can think of that does that for me is The Last of the Mohicans. That's a timeless story. It's so beautiful, romantic, tragic, and exhilarating. That's a good equivalent of course. Every other band mate would say something different [Laughs]. If I could liken it to a TV series, I'd probably liken it to The West Wing, which gave me the warmest feelings of any show I've ever seen.
What artists shaped you?
My flagship artist and the person who is always my go-to for whatever mood I'm in is Joni Mitchell. Her greatest hits album is bread-and-butter for me. It's all I listen to in the fall, summer, spring, or whenever! Fleetwood Mac was a huge part of my childhood, and I still listen to them all the time. We've definitely taken cues from them as artists and as a band. Queen was a huge part of my life growing up as well as James Taylor and Janice Ian. Then, there are a lot of gospel groups like Sweet Honey in the Rock. They're an all-female a capella group. The Soweto South African Gospel Choir is one of my favorite vocal groups. The list goes on and on!
Have you heard Carry the Fire? Check Delta Rae's site for upcoming shows!