Popping Up: Chvrches
We’ve covered rising synth-pop band Chvrches a fair amount in these parts, but we think it’s time you get a formal introduction to the Scottish trio. Down at SXSW, we chatted with Lauren Mayberry, Iain Cook and Martin Doherty to see how their first US shows were going and whether they noticed anything peculiar about indie-pop fans, having all come from prior stints in rock bands.
But going from more traditional, guitar-and-drums music to this this knob-turning, keyboard-plinking project isn’t the only big change that they’ve pulled off with apparent ease: Mayberry herself underwent a total career transformation, leaving her journalism job for a life in music. Up top, watch them talk about all that and more (and by “more,” we mean the pitfalls of automatic-flush toilets, which are a rarity across the pond), and read on to continue your Chvrches sermon.
HOMETOWN: Glasgow, Scotland
SOUNDS LIKE: If you took the gleaming synths from Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love,” then added the pensive energy of the Drive soundtrack and threw in more focused, sweetly sung hooks, you’d basically get Chvrches — or their song “Science and Vision,” at the very least.
INFLUENCES: Chvrches get inspiration from the ’80s pop greats like Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson and Prince (check out their “I Would Die 4 U” cover), as well as obscure synth-pop from that era, and disco.
“I listen to a lot of new music, but I listen to a lot of old music as well,” Iain told us. “There’s probably a lot of things that we converge on, I think generally that’s the ’80s pop stars like Prince, MJ, Cyndi Lauper, Madonna.”
“Although Iain is the oldest of our group, he and Martin are probably better at keeping on top of contemporary music than I am,” Lauren admitted. “I think I’m stuck in the ’90s.”
“We want things to sound massive,” Martin added. “It’s sort of re-contextualizing a lot of that minimal wave stuff which is something that interests us, and using hip-hop influences in the rhythm tracks and juxtaposing that with a Giorgio Moroder-style arpeggiator. That’s fun. We’re having fun while we’re doing it.”
Chvrches — “Recover”
BOTH SIDES OF THE FORCE: “I think the dark/light balance is really important to us, to have the warmer songs and the darker songs. But I think on a song by song basis, the balance of lightness and darkness and happiness and melancholy is really important, too,” Iain said. “If we have a song that’s particularly upbeat and poppy we’ll try to counter that with slightly darker lyrical content, and vice versa. I think that whole balance is a really important part of what we do.”
MEGA-CHVRCH?: “I’ve always wanted the music I’m involved with to be heard by as many people as possible,” Iain said. “That’s kind of why I’m doing, it in a sense, other than just the need to write music. But yeah, I don’t know, I don’t think we really have a say in how big this gets. As long as we’re still enjoying working together and enjoying writing together and playing together, we’ll keep doing it.”
“All this stuff is so transient, and it’s not going to last forever,” Lauren added. “Like, there’s certain people and certain acts that will last for a very long time, span trends and genres and things, but at the end of the day, this could all be done in a week. So you should just be happy with what you’re doing.”
WHAT’S NEXT: The band is currently hunkered down in the studio working on their debut album, which is slated for a September release. In May, they’ll hit the road for a North American tour.