As our first Follow Friday of May, there could not be a more suitable group than Alpine
to fit the lingering summer anticipation. These Melbourne natives encompass a sunshiny sound as Pheobe Baker's and Lou James' harmonies kick each track with a relaxed, yet directional tone.
These days, the genre of indie pop can be stretched, skewed, blurred, thrown away and tossed back - there isn't a universal code to it. However, Alpine's blend of glittery synth, echoed vocals, tangy guitar riffs, and explosive drums are blazing another subcategory in the subgenre.
These lovely Aussies have spent the past four years making ends meet to get their music out to the world. What's so refreshing about them, besides their high pitched sounds, is how they're not trying
to sound like anyone else. They have a meticulous structure in their layering, but it is played with such confidence it feels like a breeze passing by.
Alpine has toured with artists such as Sia, The Naked And Famous, The Jezabels, Kimbra, and they made their first US debut at SXSW this March, which definitely paid off. After winning last year's iTunes Australian Alternative Album of the Year, Alpine has been busy planning the release of their debut album, A is For Alpine
, which is due out May 21. Their music video for the song "Hands" ignited internet attention as it has recently surpassed one million views.
Like indie pop, Alpine's sound feels difficult to pigeon-hole. They have killer harmony, playful synth, moments of rock, and dreary, mellow moments intermingled throughout. Recently, we finally spoke with the lovely singer, Miss Phoebe Baker, about the band's hectic timing of success, choosing to record in Melbourne, and a short list of their musical influences.
It's interesting how you became a favorite on the radio program Unearthed before you even played your first show. And you were chosen as the iTunes Australian Alternative Album of the Year before you even made your first journey to the US. What can you say about this offbeat timing? Has it helped you regain composure in between? Or does it feel somewhat hectic?
Oh it's a combination of hectic, offbeat, confusing, organic, exciting stuff. I love it. It's worked out very well for us. Everything's happened step by step in this weird fashion. We've learnt to adapt. We are a little off beat, or maybe a lot, and that helps.
Your dreamlike, fleeting quality sounds so effortless. Was this the aim from the beginning, a light disco feel? Or did it sort of fall together once the six-piece group came to be?
It just fell together. We definitely have a specific sound that feels like it's 'us'. I don't think we ever have an 'end sound' in sight. It just comes together in rehearsals and home time recordings. The sound goes wherever it wants to. We could end up rapping soon!
How did staying in your native Melbourne for recording help you capture the sound of the record?
We all love Melbourne. It smells of gum trees, has an amazing music scene and the best coffee. Most of our childhood and embarrassing teen memories are here. Being here when recording gave a safe environment in which to improvise, let out musical emotions loose, whilst drinking coffee and or goon and then passing out into our own glorious beds.
We Googled it: "goon" is Australian for "box wine".
What can you say about the versatility of this record?
Well dynamics are fun! They are a challenge. They keep things interesting. There are six of us and we are all very different and have vary varying tastes in music, and I think this comes through in the tunes we be makin'.
The first two tracks, "Lovers 1" and "Lovers 2" feel like a lucid dream. Would you care to elaborate why you chose to use sister songs to open the album?
Ooo lucid. I like that. Well, we wrote these two songs separately but they always seemed to go so well together that we had to pair them up. The transition from 1 into 2 made too much sense. I like how the theme develops and is shared between the two. It's fun to play around with the way songs interact. Track order was and especially fun thing to organize.
The video for "Hands" has surpassed one million views. It seems as interesting and quirky as the song itself.
Well, it's very risque! And of course it's a brilliant song. [Laughs.] I think it's the confrontational value that has worked to this video's advantage. Young gals going through puberty, learning to accept and enjoy having their first sexual feelings packed with all that awkwardness.
It's hard to pinpoint your influences, given that you guys sound so unique. From where did you draw inspiration while recording A is For Alpine?
OK. You asked for it! Nas, Tribe Called Quest, Frightened Rabbit, Devendra Banhart, Kate Bush, Caetano Veloso, Ben Jorge, Gershwin, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Grace Jones, Led Zeppelin, Flying Lotus, Lil Wayne, Bruce Springsteen, Common, Johnny Cash, The Kinks, David Bowie, Joanna Newsom, Billy Brag, Ariel Pink, INXS, Tame Impala, Radiohead, Velvet Underground, Steely Dan, Michael McDonald, Prince, Todd Rundgren... I mean all the classics... This could go on and on and on and on and on. It's no one specific, just everyone wonderful.
How was your experience at SXSW? And the US in general?
Amazing! I wish I could swear here but I don't know if I can so I'll just say Duck! It was so good! Thanks for being lovely to us. [Laughs.] What and amazing thing SXSW is! Austin is a beautiful town. And US in general is exciting and full of possibilities and night adventures.
As with every Follow Friday, we pass the torch to the band and urge you to Like Alpine on Facebook
and follow them on Twitter
for future updates on A Is For Alpine
, due out in the US on May 21st.