Technology decided it wanted to challenge me for my interview with Kingston duo Alpines, but we weren’t defeated that easily… I had a glorious chat with Catherine from Alpines on the blower.
We got to talk to Alpines about their hometown on London, the strong relationship between music and fashion, the Alpines Fall Playlist. The twosome has put together a Spotify playlist exclusively for Spindle of songs they can’t stop listening to at the minute!! And it’s pretty damn amazing to be honest. It’s perfectly rounded off with the band’s new single Saviour, which is out on Monday (Nov 10th).
Where was Alpines born? How did the two of you meet?
We met at a wedding as Bob was playing in the band and we got chatting. He said he was a producer and I mentioned that I was looking to work with a producer on my solo work and it all kicked off from there!
You’re local to London too, what’s your favourite thing about the city?
We live and are based in South West London in Kingston; this is where we have recently built our studio. Our favourite thing about the city is the art and culture. London has to be one of the best places in the world to soak up art in the incredible museums and galleries. We also love going out and listening to new music, there are so many great venues. For example we are seeing our friend MNEK play at Village Underground this week.
You released the debut album Oasis earlier this year and Saviour is out on the 10th! Which is a really beautiful song. How do you go about writing? Do you write together?
Most of the time the songs will start on organ and piano, Catherine will write the bare bones of the track, with melodies and lyrics then we will work together on producing them up. Building layer by layer. But there are times every now and then, when the songs will start from the production side, such as ‘No Other Lover’. So there really are no rules to the process and we don’t like to restrict ourselves in anyway. At the moment we are trying to write two or three songs a week in the build up to next album. It’s all about creating a strong flow. We always write together.
So what’s Saviour all about?
Saviour is about a bond with somebody that is so strong it almost becomes part of your identity and definition. This is something that you can’t really live without. This person in a way becomes part of your lifeline.
If you were going to describe your music in three words, what would they be?
From the background, Bob inputs… Reflective, Modern, Pop
Reflective because most of the time Catherine will write with emotion and explore feelings she has been through in the past. Modern because we are always soaking up what is happening around us in dance music, hip hop, RNB and music we love. This combined with the classic pop song writing structure that Catherine tends to use creates something contemporary. Pop because it is a combination of many styles but we hope that our songs can resonate with lots of people from many different backgrounds.
You’ve shared a stage with Emeli Sandé and Florence and the Machine at Alexandra Palace, which must’ve been insane…
Supporting Florence at Ally Pally was incredible; we were only there because she really wanted us to be there. It was still early in our career and we were and still are massive fans of hers so it was a really big deal. It is so nice to have somebody so successful support what you are doing. We supported Emeli on tour around the UK in smaller venues just before she blew up with her track ‘Heaven’. She is again an amazing talent and we felt honoured to witness her live set up in its early stages.
You’ve also worked with The Maccabees and Subfocus, are there any other people in the industry you’d love to work with?
There are so many people we would love to work with. You always learn so much from being in the studio with others. Bob’s hero is Brian Eno so I know he would love to work with him. I am always fascinated by the way in which people write songs and lyrics so I would be really interested to spend time in the studio with someone like Sia who has had such huge success with her songs. I have been following her from the early days when she was a singer in Zero 7. I would also love to work with a producer like Pharrell or Diplo. Again someone with years of experience who can create all encompassing, huge pop songs.
You’ve featured in fashion magazines as well as musical ones; do you feel there is a strong connection between the two?
I think there is undeniable connection between music and fashion. There always has been. I think the way the world is now, it makes sense for musicians to embrace the hugely powerful fashion industry. More and more you see musicians collaborating with brands and designers and this makes total sense to me. I gain so much inspiration from designers and photographers. In so many elements of what we do as a band, fashion will pay a part, whether its performing on stage, in videos or photo shoots.
Is there any looks you go for for live shows?
I love a strong silhouette on stage, one that allows you to move well and feel powerful. I also love bold jewellery to just add that extra layer of glamour. We love designers Marta Jakubowski, Casely Hayford, Hannah Marshall, Alexander Wang, GoGo Philip as a few off the top of my head. There are so many talented people out there.
I have been speaking with Marta Jakubowski about working together on a tour collection maybe when we play Europe next year, which would be incredible! She worked with my brother from The Royal College of Art, but she was in the fashion department. She is incredible because she has this; her designers are very very strong. They’re heightened in certain aspects, whether it’s just the shoulders or whatever. But not to the point where it just looks silly, it’s just clever and I think work like hers is really important. And Hannah Marshall is someone I’ve always worked alongside with, she just understands a certain silhouette and I think that’s really important when you’re on stage.
Because as women there’s a lot of pressure, on female pop singers especially, I mean I’m not going to wear no clothes. I always have so much admiration for women who wear not that much on stage. I’m not the kind of person who does that because of the kind of figure I have. I think you’ve got to be comfortable. That’s why I love searching for designers who work to your body shape.
I also love the collaboration Lykke Li has done with & Other Stories, it’s a really amazing strong minimal look.
The Alpines Fall Playlist, which is being shared exclusively through Spindle(!!!), with Cairbou and Years and Years! Is this stuff you’re listening to at the moment?
Yes. Actually since I’ve put that together there’s been more stuff I’d like to add. I think there’s so much music coming through. But the stuff that’s on there I’ve found through Soundcloud and Twitter. And a lot I actually couldn’t find on Spotify, that I would’ve loved to add on there. There’s a guy called XO Music, he’s only 19 and he’s doing some incredible things. I just feel like he’s going to be massive but he’s still so underground.
Caribou’s album is just incredible. Azekel too. Basically it’s all come out in the last few weeks, the majority of it. Maxine Ashley who’s on there, she’s brilliant, an amazing voice. It’s all stuff I’ve listened to more than once, which I think is a big deal in this day and age. Going back to something when there’s so much choice. I think they all sit in a place that is just easy, they’re all very strong tracks but they’re easy on the ear. They’ve all got an addictive quality to them.
Definitely, we’ve had it on all morning! You’re playing at Oslo in Hackney on December 3rd, is that something you’re looking forward to?
Yeah, definitely. We’re doing a few things in the set that we haven’t done before. Like building a live visual show as well, in terms of a background with great graphics. Working on creating a set that is more fluid, merging tracks together. We’re also doing tracks we’ve never done before in the set. We’re using it as a nice way to round off the year, a nice way to move onto the next album really.
Words: Eliza Frost