Interview: Clairy Browne & the Bangin' Rackettes
Mon, 10 Jun 2013 09:00:46
Etta James Photos
Clairy Browne & the Bangin' Rackettes hearken back to a more soulful time with Baby Caught the Bus, but the group's new album is far from a throwback. Instead, the collection feels decidedly alive with doo-wop spirit, jazz-y bombast, and a whole lot of spunk. At the center of it all, Browne's massive voice resounds loud enough to put a smile on Etta James' face.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Clairy Browne talks Baby Caught the Bus and so much more.
Did you approach Baby Caught the Bus with one vision or vibe in mind?
It was pretty much a natural process. It came together quickly. We didn't have much planning around where it would end up. We wanted to make a record that reflected the music we loved as a collective and tells our stories. I think it is our own sound. It's obviously deeply rooted in old soul and R&B. There are tinges of hip-hop, doo-wop, and industrial sounds. I think what sets it apart is there's this dirty electric guitar. It's rock 'n' roll as well as all of the old school sounds, and that's how we play it.
What's the story behind "Far Too Late"?
It's got a doo-wop feel. I'd describe it as a pastel tragedy. It's about being haunted by love that couldn't come to be. It's reminiscent and reflective, and it has yearning to it. It's definitely a heartbreaker. It took me to a place of longing and deep sadness that this love couldn't come to be.
How important was the sequencing of the album?
Everything fits the record. The message we were going for was these are all songs about love, and they're connected to love in some way. It starts off with this uncontrollable desire and perversion of "Love Letter". "Vicious Cycle" is about regret. Then, there are first dates, lost love, abandoned jealousy, heartbreak, and acceptance. It's the acceptance of moving on and packing up. It is what it is. We play with these themes because they're universal and relatable. Everybody knows what it's like to have your heart ripped out and beating on the floor before you. You're crying into your martini, and everybody understands that.
Is it important for you to tell stories in the songs?
Storytelling is a huge part of it. Growing up and listening to music, I was always obsessed with the lyrics and the stories. I'd read into them and interpret them. Having an experience mirrored back to you in someone's words and music is an important part of understanding who you are. If I can do that for someone sitting in their bedroom listening to the music, that'd be a very cool thing.
If you were to compare to the album to a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
There are a lot! Movies are big for us. We're definitely into aesthetic. I'd say a lot of David Lynch's work and John Waters' work. It'd be a combination of those. John Waters has that high camp, comical, fun, and pastel feeling. There are big and ironically humorous characters who are avant garde and do things you wouldn't expect. Lynch has got the dark, creep factor.
What artists shaped you?
The biggest would be Etta James. She taught me what it is to be a tough woman on stage and have goals. For me, she epitomizes being formidable, enigmatic, and singing about love and loss. She's a real diva. Another one would be Erykah Badu. She stands out to me because she's probably the only artist I've consistently listened to on a weekly basis for the last 15 years. I've been listening to her super early work. I'm also inspired by watching her evolve and becoming this, as she puts it, "analog girl in a digital world". She's an R&B artist, but she represents this punk quality and independence. She's tongue-in-cheek, and she's smart. I'm also very influenced by OutKast and André 3000. He breaks all of the hip-hop rules. He's avant garde, into fashion, and he isn't afraid to sing. I'm very interested in Frank Ocean too because he's so prolific and such an amazing lyricist.
Have you heard Clairy Browne yet?