Interview: The Dø
Wed, 18 Feb 2015 10:14:12
The Dø craft an otherworldly musical pastiche of sounds, styles, and emotions on Shake Shook Shaken [iTunes link]. Each piece seamlessly assembles to comprise an undeniable aural puzzle that's punctuated by impeccable instrumentation and hypnotically sweet vocals courtesy of Olivia Bouyssou Merilahti. It's as if every listen unlocks another layer of their world, beckoning you back again and again. You'll be Shaken and not stirred (in the best way possible) by the end.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Olivia talks Shake Shook Shaken and so much more.
What threads Shake Shook Shaken together for you?
It's funny you should ask that. It's the first album we really conceived as a whole. We really wanted it to be coherent and have a certain color. It's a whole in and of itself and not just tracks here and there. The previous records were more like songs put together on an album. We definitely didn't want to think of a concept or whatever before. There was a logic and coherence that we wanted to follow here. It's more about the pictures and the colors. It was a lot about finding the right textures and colors and sticking to them without being boring.
What encouraged that?
It's difficult to say. It's something we've never done before, and it's just another challenge that we decided to face. Maybe we just felt like we needed to be in a certain frame or environment that we felt comfortable with and try to stick to that.
What are the stories behind "Nature Will Remain" and "Omen?"
Well, "Omen" actually belonged to "A Mess Like This" for a long time. At the end, we decided to separate both and make two tracks out of that one long track. We've always had an instrumental song on our albums. It felt logical for us to separate them and have that as an ending track. It was just too tempting to have a track called "Omen" at the end of an album. We initially weren't sure if we wanted to have "Nature Will Remain" on the album. In the end, many people mention that track and say maybe the first listen isn't the most convincing, then you get back to it and start liking it. It's like a classic. I'm talking about the harmony and melody—they're quite classical in a way. It's not easy to make that sound special or different. The mixing engineer helped us give it some majesty.
Where were you coming from lyrically?
I felt like writing about nature because it's where we come from in a way. Dan and I have been very close to the natural and organic sounds. On this album, it's more about the synthetic. We wanted to work with those kinds of materials. It's almost trying to reconcile with natural elements. We're definitely never going to move away from that. It's still the most important thing. We also recorded the album in the middle of nature. To me, this album is a lot about duality and reconciling the city and countryside. I would drive from Paris to the countryside in Normandy and listen to the demos and new songs on the way. It was this back-and-forth movement. What's in between is a no man's land, and that's what I was inspired by for that song.
Is it important for you to paint pictures with the songs?
Yeah, I think it's more visual than before. I had a lot of images. Dan and I sent each other a lot of pictures and videos...more than ever. There's a long video, which uses about seven tracks from the album. We definitely wanted to have something broader than a short video. It's almost a short film.
What inspires you outside of music?
It depends. I'm very inspired by Manga and Japanese graphics—the textiles, the letters, and the clothes. Japanese culture has been very important and inspiring for all of the albums. That's a big one. It's a lot about dreaming about it since we've never been there. There's a lot of mystery. It might disappear when we go there [Laughs].
If the album were a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
There were two movies we were obsessed with. There's the manga Akira and another black and white film from Kaneto Shindō. He's a Japanese director. It's called The Naked Island. It's about a couple living on an island alone with their two kids, and they're struggling to grow their vegetables and food on their naked island. We'd watch things like that in the studio.
Have you heard The Dø?