The Naked And Famous Talk Growing Up and 'In Rolling Waves'
    • TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 2013

    • Posted by: Ilana Kaplan

    It's been three years since The Naked and Famous came out with their debut record Passive Me, Aggressive You. Since then, the band has come a long way with their sound. Their latest record In Rolling Waves comes packaged with a much darker, haunting sound (though their first record was still pretty haunting at times). There's a higher quality of production this time around, and it doesn't hurt their trademark aesthetic. The band released one of the more upbeat songs "Hearts Like Ours" as their first single, but this track is accompanied on their sophomore effort by more heartbreaking songs like "Waltz" and "The Mess."

    The New Zealand natives really have the synth-pop thing going on this time 'round. Their sound is gritty, raw and at times, it is charged with sadness. If you thought that their debut was the perfect record for an emotionally-tolling day, think again. In Rolling Waves is on its own melancholic level (in a good way if music is your coping mechanism).

    We spoke with singer Alisa Xayalith back in August about getting older, her creative process and touring with The Colourist.

    ILANA KAPLAN: So I actually interviewed Thom (Powers) two years ago when you were releasing your debut. How has the music and band changed since then?

    ALISA XAYALITH: We've definitely changed a lot. We're definitely not the same people who wrote the songs on Passive Me, Aggressive You. It's been about three years since that album. A lot of life experience and time has passed. We've had a lot more experiences. The new album is different for sure.

    KAPLAN: How has your sound evolved since then?

    XAYALITH: I guess our music tastes have changed as we've gotten older. Our first record is quite loud and brash. There's a lot there. We really wanted to make something more dynamic. I think it's the art of how we approached this record. We really wanted to play everything live, and there were some songs that we couldn't play live because there were so many layers. We thought it was really important to write songs that were all playable. It created some restrictions for us. Did I just go off on a tangent here?

    KAPLAN: It's all good. I love tangents. Did you work with anyone in particular this time around to give you the sound you were looking for?

    XAYALITH: Everything was pretty self-contained up until we hit a bit of a creative block with the two songs "The Mess" and "I Kill Giants". We had a conversation one day about working with a producer and we thought on this record, with the problems we were having that it was the perfect opportunity to approach someone. Justin Meldal-Johnsen was the person we ended up working with. When we had our meeting with him, we loved him. After we ended up working with him, he just assimilated to our environment and became a band member. It was just such an effortless process. He was so eloquent in putting things forward and putting ideas together. They were so tangible. I haven't really experienced the same kind of working relationship with any other producer. It was refreshing to work with someone who had a clear conscience and understood what we were working on. It ended up sounding really great. It was effortless.

    KAPLAN: How did you come up with the album name In Rolling Waves? How did it encompass all of the songs on the record?

    XAYALITH: Well, there is a song called "Rolling Waves", but that's not where the title comes from. The title of the album comes from the song "Grow Old". I felt like In Rolling Waves looked really beautiful written down. It embodied all of the songs phonetically and we thought it was a good metaphor for those experiences. It was a natural decision for it to be named that. I feel like the phrase 'In Rolling Waves' has three very ambiguous words. You put them together and you get quite a few things.


    KAPLAN: Definitely. What do you think will surprise listeners when they hear your new album?

    XAYALITH: I feel like It's quite a bit more emotionally heavy and a bit darker than the last record. They might find that they probably didn't expect us to have such dark songs.

    KAPLAN: Did you guys start touring with The Colourist yet?

    XAYALITH: That starts in September. We haven't started yet! We're knee-deep in rehearsals at the moment trying to get everything together. I'm really excited to get that going, play our new songs and tour again.

    KAPLAN: So following the tour, what are your plans for the rest of the year and in 2014?

    XAYALITH: 2013 we'll be touring in September in the states with The Colourist and two of our other friends' bands. Then we'll be back in the UK in October and November. We get to go home for Christmas. We haven't been home in a while. Then in the new year we'll be playing in Australia. I'm not sure what else, but I'm sure it'll be very busy.

    KAPLAN: Are the songs on the new record individual anecdotes or is one, full story being told?

    XAYALITH: I feel like the album is a collection of experiences. It's a moment in time. We'll be touring and we'll say we want more life experiences. The art of human experience is how I'd define making a record. It's hard to come up with records and think of a theme. There isn't really anything as such.

    KAPLAN: I feel like there sometimes isn't an answer for that. Did you listen to any different music while recording In Rolling Waves?

    XAYALITH: For me, I feel like listening to new music when I'm in the middle of the creative process can be very difficult because I'm so focused on one thing that my mental state is at its full capacity. Sometimes I feel like listening to new music is trying to enter into my process. It can be really difficult. Sometimes I go back to my favorite songs and all of those things that made me want to create music in the first place. I find it very hard to listen to new music. There are artists I listen to quite a lot because they have great lyrics. I love EMA's album. She's such a great poet. I love her lyrics so much. I really wanted to create music that was raw, honest, not so pretty at times and melancholic.


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