Exploded View Interview: “We’re huge ABBA fans”

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Exploded View’s self titled debut album is out now.

The words norm and convention seem to be completely alien to German-English Anika Henderson, vocalist with post-punk quartet Exploded View. In the past she worked with Portishead’s Geoff Barrow on his BEAK> project, and then he ended up producing, and writing two tracks for, her self titled debut record. She then went out to tour the record and after a string of shows in Mexico with a local band comprised of local producers Martin Thulin, Hugo Quezada and Amon Melgarejo, they figured they were on to something pretty unique and had to get that on tape.

They were entirely correct. The straight to tape, improvised nature of the sessions gives the music more of an off the cuff atmosphere than much of Anika’s previous work. With this in mind, we had a chat with Anika and Martin Thulin to discuss the contrasts on the album, the current political climate, and their improvised recording approach.

Overblown: Anika, you were born in the UK, are based in Berlin, and the album was recorded in Mexico City. How did these completely different place influence the end product?

Anika: Even though we grew up in different places, many of our influences are the same. This is one of the things about music, it can unite. Of course there are differences but mainly in the ways that people choose to express things. The emotions behind the tools are often very similar.

O: One of my favourite tracks on the new album is ‘Orlando’. I like how the track is somehow both insistent and dream-like simultaneously. I enjoy the contrast. What inspired that song?

Martin: This one definitely started as an internal joke between Hugo and I, we’re both huge ABBA fans, and I started playing the beat to ‘Dancing Queen’ on top of the arpeggio Hugo was setting up.

O:The record was recorded “fully live, fully improvised, first-takes only.” Why was it important to you to record in this manner?

Martin: We never thought about recording an album or even start a band. It all began between rehearsals for some Anika shows in Mexico where we were invited as a backing band. Hugo and I set up a 8-track tape recorder and simply started to record our jams.

O: Have you thought about whether you want to continue to record in this fashion for the foreseeable future?

Martin: Yup. We’ve already done several sessions for the next album, we are recording right now actually with more or less the same set up.

O: As well as being a musician Anika, you are a political journalist. What do you make of the tangible move towards the Right in the West?

Anika: It’s a sad state of affairs but much of it comes from the fact that in many of these places, we had ‘liberal’ candidates in power for the last 10 or so years. Many people became despondent, felt let down, isolated and unhappy and as a result voted for change. Sadly they bought the candy coloured ‘truths’ of the Right. Let’s hope as a result, the opposition realign themselves and grow some strong ideas, headed by some strong candidates. One thing is sure, isolation and putting up walls does not make you stronger and blaming people for your misfortunes will not get you far.

O: Does your role as a political journalist inform your music?

Anika: I’m not really a political journalist. I just studied politics and journalism because I wanted to know more about the world. Music is a way to digest this information and communicate it with others. It’s also a way to talk about whatever is on your mind, be it political or not. But then again, what isn’t political?

O: How does the music from the album translate live? I feel it would be rather improvised and off the cuff?

Martin: The funny thing is that it really isn’t like that at all. We improvise to compose, but once the songs are there we play them as the ditties they turned out after we edited them with a huge and sharp knife. Deep cuts. Cutting the heart out and throwing away the rest.

O: Any live dates on the horizon?

Anika: Hopefully we’ll be back in Europe in late Spring 2017.

If you like this Exploded View interview, you might enjoy this track by IDLES.

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