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Anais Mitchell - Interview

  by Jonjo McNeill

published: 19 / 2 / 2009

Anais Mitchell - Interview


At a gig in Newcastle on their recent European tour, Jonjo McNeill speaks to singer Yuke Chikudate and guitarist James Hanna from New York shoegazers Asobi Seksu about touring, songwriting and their just released third alabum, 'Hush'

New York shoegazers Asobi Seksu flew into Britain in February to show us their dreamy third album 'Hush'. Pennyblackmusic caught up with synth playing singer Yuki Chikudate and guitarist James Hanna for a no-nonsense chat about touring, songwriting and drunks. PB : Tell us what's different about 'Hush'? JH : We just tried to go for very different textures, tried to clean a couple of things up - try not to rely so much on reverb - and do something a little glassier, a little glossier. Something that isn't so overwhelming all the time. You can see through the layers. It's just what we felt like doing. PB : Thematically what's happening on this record ? JH : There was no concious choice behind any change in theme. YC : If (incredible second album) 'Citrus' was like a spring or summery record, this one is a little more wintery. PB : And how have people taken to the songs on this tour? YC : We approach things differently for the live show - it's a lot more physical, more visceral, whereas the album is a bit more subdued. JH : It's more overwhelming. YC : We want to create a different kind of tension from the album when we play live. But we still bring the noise live. PB : It does sound like your melodic elements have been pushed more to the front of this record. Going back to the tour, how has it been? JH : It's been varied, venue wise. Some have been in clubs, some in smaller places. London and Glasgow were bigger places. This is our first time in Newcastle though. PB : Have you noticed any effects of the recession on your travels ? JH : Well the merch is selling okay, but people don't want to spend as much money. It's not as good as it was a few years ago. YC : A lot of the record stores that we used to go to in New York are gone. It's definitely a bummer. PB : What pisses you off about being here in the UK ? JH : People sometimes - when they're a little drunk - they like to talk a lot. Like a whole lot. YC : They all want to say something. They can't just walk by! JH : I like England though. The drives are short, which is great. We just did a tour in America and we're going to be doing a bigger one in a few weeks. YC : As soon as we get back we're getting into another van. PB : Have you started writing again yet or is the new album still your main focus ? JH : 'Hush' was being written right up to moment we recorded it. It was made over the course of a year. We started writing it towards the end of the touring cycle on 'Citrus'. But we wanted the record this time to have a lot more coherency to it. We've been recording B-sides and a special acoustic EP for this tour.There hasn't really been time to write anything else! YC : We're not the kind of band who can write very quickly. We have to sit and consider things, ponder for a while. PB : What is the writing process in Asobi Seksu ? JH : Me or Yuki will have some tiny idea. We'll write it down and make a verse or a chorus out of it. Work things out over time, both chip in. YC : Often I have a verse and he has a chorus and they just work. Bang - a song. JH : We spend a lot of time getting the feel of the songs right. We know early on if it's going to be fairly mellow or if it's going to be a heavier song. But working together on them. I'll play the drums - badly - and Yuki'll then play the drums a little bit better than that. PB : Where do the melodies come from - they're very ethereal ? JH : The vocal melodies are what we come up with first. We like to make sure they're not quite normal. Have little bits that are offbeat. But it's still really important that the melodies are part predictable I'd say. YC : We write really feminine, pretty lines. They drive the song. Movement is really important for us and there's always movement. PB : Thank you.

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