Interview: Alpines

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'Another River' album cover

We spoke to Bob and Catherine from the band Alpines, who have famous fans including Florence + The Machine and released their latest album ‘Another River’ last year to critical acclaim.

Since your band name ‘Alpines’ has come from your love of nature and the mountains, have you been keeping up with Planet Earth 2?

B: Yeah! Apparently, the last few episodes have been quite emotional…
C: I tend to get really upset watching it as it is, but it’s amazing to see how much effort goes into each scene, just to get those 10-second shots can take up to 2 years! Especially with rare species, such as snow leopards, that you don’t see very often.

You’ve placed a lot of importance on being able to change, adapt and evolve your sound over time, how do you go about achieving that?

B: For me, it’s about not feeling that you’re repeating yourself or just going through the motions. Our music usually happens naturally, we don’t tend to do the same thing twice.
C: And I think as an artist you’re always evolving and learning new skills, whether it’s a chord progression, a new instrument or new software, you’re constantly developing. And we’re all getting older so that feeds into the music and when you learn from your past mistakes, you learn about what works and what doesn’t and then use that to shape your current work. It’s also probably innate in every artist, no matter what art form, to try to push boundaries, to keep driving forward and to keep being relevant.

In terms of your ‘staple’ sound, you’ve been compared to The xx quite frequently, do you agree that you share similar elements with their sound? And are you looking forward to their new album?

C: We love those guys and we love the new single ‘On Hold’. We love everything that they represent and they’ve definitely been a big influence on us from the very beginning. When we first started, they’d already made their mark in music, they’re very special and I can see why there are similarities between our sound and theirs.

Catherine, in particular, you have quite a bold fashion sense, are there any looks that you’ve had in the past that you now look back on and cringe at?

C: Oh my God, my whole Facebook from about 2009! I was at university in Bristol and it was such a fun city to be part of at the time because they’ve got such a huge dance music scene. All the girls on my course were so beautiful and I just did not feel like I was on their level. I’d done a year at art school before that where people came into college wearing clothes completely covered in paint, so it was a bit of a difference! So that was part of a few years of awkward experimentation!

You’ve also stated in the past that hip-hop is able to explore deeper subjects as a genre, so could we ever expect any rap elements to your music in the near future?

C: I don’t think I’ll ever be able to rap myself, but with Lauryn Hill being one of my biggest influences from when I was younger, I would love to have rappers rework or feature on some of our tracks. Hip-hop lyricists are such wordsmiths and they can fit so many themes into their music that’s just on another level to pop music. Pop musicians can do it as well and pop music is a real art, but I do think that hip-hop artists are on a totally different level.

Bringing it back to the visual element, how would you describe your live show?

C: For our live show in support of this album, I really want the fans to feel intimacy with us, for them to feel like they’re part of something which is very personal, soulful and raw but I’d also like them to go away feeling quite uplifted. We have a live drummer, a keyboardist and we’re bringing a lot of the elements of the album to life onstage. And obviously Bob’s doing lots of different things at once, whereas I’m just singing!

Bob, as a producer, how do you feel about the resurgence of vinyl?

B: I think it’s great, since I got into vinyl later in life, I do completely understand the joy of a physical vinyl record. I don’t think it’s the future of music though, we need to look at streaming and how it’s changing the industry.

C: I think that the physical record will always be a very important part of experiencing music.

B: I agree that the physical format will never go away, I just can’t see it getting much bigger than it is now. I feel like vinyl has taken its place as the physical medium now. If someone loves a record enough to buy the physical copy, they’ll choose to buy the vinyl over the CD.

What would you say is your ‘best’ gig and what would you say is your ‘worst’ gig?

C: The best gig would be when we played at Alexandra Palace in London supporting Florence + The Machine, just because of the scale of it and the fact that we were there because she wanted us to be there. It was really special, but she’s a very special lady anyway.
B: I’d also say Secret Garden Party. The stage we played was set amongst the trees and the weather was perfect.
C: But one of our worst gigs was in 2010, Shura was supporting us actually. She was amazing but we had a terrible show. She got in touch with us recently because we were on the same lineup at Secret Garden Party, which was funny. Once, we did a charity gig which wasn’t that great and Lindsey Lohan was in the audience which made it even more embarrassing for us!

Finally, if Alpines could be a cocktail, what do you think it would be?

C: An Espresso Martini! But if we were to create our own, then I’d probably have something minty to go with the Alpines theme, perhaps a mojito with a twist?
B: So white rum, with mint, topped with prosecco, how about that?
C: And a bit of brown sugar!