Duos are hardly a rarity in the music industry: The White Stripes, Sonny & Cher… Outkast. Some things are just stronger in pairs, and that’s certainly the case when it comes to Alpines. We caught up with the London-based twosome, Catherine and Bob, to talk about sounds, style and what’s so great about Beyoncé.
Often with a solo artist, their range of influences can be quite obvious in their music. As a duo, do you feel you each have similar musical influences or are they at totally different ends of the spectrum and how does that come through in your work?
—We have both come from very different musical backgrounds and as a result we pull inspiration from all over the place, so it makes sense that the albums we make have an eclectic mix of sounds which is hard to place in a single musical genre. Bob loves his ambient producers and albums, this includes artists such as Brian Eno, Nils Frahm and Sigur Rós. I was raised on soul and blues so that’s where my vocal sound and songwriting comes from. As a teenager I loved RnB and huge powerhouse vocalists like Whitney and Mariah. But we also love hip hop and will DJ tunes we grew up listening to when we were teenagers; Aaliyah, Timbaland and Missy Elliot. We also love so many of the newer artists coming through now such as Sampha, Solange, Nao and Loyle Carner so it’s safe to say the influences are broad!
You released your second album last year — how was that process compared to your debut album? Do you feel like you learned a lot?
—We have learnt so much writing ‘Another River’. It was a very different process to writing our first album ‘Oasis’ because we spent two years in the studio focusing purely on trying to write a record we were really going to be proud of, with very few other distractions. We wrote nearly 100 songs for this album too, so it was very intensive. We definitely learned our boundaries and limitations, as well as how to make an album which was cohesive, despite there being such a wide range of influences and styles. Most of all we wanted to write an album which was very honest and personal and would really reach people and hopefully connect with them.
Your sound has been described as a cross between Kate Bush and The xx; how would you describe it if you only had five words?
—We love The xx and have been really inspired by their music since the start of the band. We have a great appreciation for Kate Bush but have never really listened to her music that much so it’s interesting that she’s been referenced as a comparison so much throughout our career. Maybe in the early days this made more sense. Now, however our sound has developed so we would probably summarise it as soulful, minimal, honest, cinematic and textural.
You have a really unique and striking image too, is that a conscious decision? What part does personal style and fashion play in your work and what does it mean to you?
—Thank you so much! The image and visuals of the band have been important to us since the beginning. It means a lot to us because we want to try and create an immersive world for fans to enter. While the music is obviously the most important thing, hopefully the visuals we make are inspiring to people too and become something they can also indulge in.
You have your very own tour coming up really soon. How do you guys feel about that?
—We are really excited about our upcoming tour. It is going to be so incredible to play so many towns and cities we’ve never been to before, and meet fans who have supported us since the start. There is nothing more uplifting than engaging with people who really believe in the music you are making. It will be a lot of hard work and at times we will be exhausted, but it is the perfect time for us to start playing shows in the UK and beyond.
With festival season already on the horizon, here’s a fun one: If you could dream up your ultimate festival line-up, who would you have playing?
—There are so many people we love and would love to have on a festival line up, but our top headliner artist would probably have to be Beyoncé. She is just so incredible live and there really is no one on her level when it comes to live performance. We saw her at Glastonbury in 2011 and she blew us away. Then we would have to have Eminem. We both love him and have watched 8 mile about a hundred times so it would be incredible to see him live. Neil Young, he is meant to be amazing live and has written some of our all-time favourite songs. Erykah Badu, because she is the Queen and is so weird, wonderful and soulful in all the right ways. D’Angelo, we saw him live a couple of years ago and he has the most incredible live band. Solange, we’re both obsessed with her new album. Nils Frahm, to add a slightly different flavour to the line-up. His live shows are intense soundscapes which are moving and out of this world. And last but never least, Sampha, because we love everything he does. He’s the soul voice of our generation in our opinion and he’s about to release his new album which is probably going to be on repeat everywhere we go.
Watch the duo perform their track ‘Motionless’ live at Metropolis Studios here
Check out the new single from Alpines ‘Stay’, and for more info on the band (including tour dates) stop by alpinesmusic.com