Banner Photo by Francesca Jane Alen
Daughter initially captivated the music scene back in 2013 with the release of their debut record, If You Leave, as “Youth” became one of the most melancholy indie chart toppers of the year. Forceful, graceful, and exorbitantly passionate, the trio of Elena Tonra, Igor Haefeli, and Remi Aguiella embarked on massive tours in the years following its release. After taking some time off, they returned with their second LP, Not To Disappear, at the beginning of 2016, and I got to chat with drummer Remi Aguiella about how the past 11 months have been. I answered the phone and he began telling me of the last time he was in Seattle, Scottish accent and all. “This is the most random thing, but I was in Seattle a few weeks ago… I went to the Lego convention. It’s the geekiest, I know. I felt weird because it was mainly kids and older guys and then me, admiring all those Legos. It’s called BrickCon and it was great as a Lego geek, a 27-year-old Lego geek. It was awesome. On that note…” and we quickly plunged into Daughter’s world of beauty, grace, and sadness.
AK: Can you talk about how your album, Not To Disappear, has gone, as its release was earlier this year?
RA: I think it’s been received pretty well; I mean, I hope. We’ve been really happy with it. When we recorded the two EPs, and then the first album, most of the time the songs were not really written or finished and arranged until we were in the studio. Then we’d come up with drum parts and potential extra guitars. This one, we had a little studio booth kind of thing in London, and we recorded some demos and kind of had time to learn the songs, get familiar with them, and really spend time arranging them.
We could see what we felt comfortable in having as parts, as well if we were able to do it, like, “Let’s try to make sure we can actually perform it live as well.” ‘Cause that’s kind of what happened with the first album: we were like, “Oh, we made a great album, but now how the hell are we gonna play this live… I don’t think we can.” It was just kind of one of those things were we recorded the first album and were like, “Oh, shoot, we’re going to have to add an extra musician because I don’t think we’ll be able to play all the songs live otherwise as a three piece.” For this one, we knew that obviously we were going to keep playing some of the older songs, so we would have a fourth person on stage with us to start with. So arranging that was easier.
AK: The first few seconds of “New Ways” are incredible to listen to. Was the production on this record that intentional, or did it just kind of happen?
RA: A few things kind of happened in the studio by accident, and also by having Nicolas [Vernhes], who was producing the album, throwing some ideas in the mix and being like, “Oh, why don’t you guys try to do something different for this?” and eventually just trying to come up with different ideas, and it worked. We also spent a lot of time mixing it and making sure it was what we wanted; mastering for those guys makes a big difference. I’m glad that you liked it!
AK: What’s the story behind “The End”?
RA: I don’t think we really saw it as a single; it was one of the songs we recorded in the studio at the same time as everything else that went on Not To Disappear, and it became a bonus track for our Japanese version. It was one of those things where it feels weird having a song in one country; it would be fun for everybody else to hear it. The reaction has been good so far and we’ve even had people mention it after the shows. Unfortunately, we’re not able to play it yet…one day, hopefully. It’s fun to see that some people had heard it before—like, found a way to get the Japanese edition and that sort of thing, but it’s fun to see that people like something that you…not really forgot about, but most of the time just think about. Like, “Oh, yeah, there [were] ten songs that we recorded and put out,” and are reminded that there’s that [“The End”], too.
AK: I was kind of surprised it wasn’t on the album!
RA: Yeah, it’s always a tough decision…I think overall it was maybe the one that felt the most, I don’t know, I don’t want to say different, but it didn’t fit perfectly on the album compared to some of the others. I think it was potentially on the album at first, and then “No Care” was one of the songs that we recorded right at the end of our studio time and it kind of seemed to fit better, and we just had to go for it.
AK: I read awhile back that you all don’t like to write and make new songs while you’re on tour. Is that still the case?
RA: I think it’s not really that we don’t like doing it; it’s more that it’s kind of difficult because you want to. We’ll spend some time; we’re not the sort of people to go off stage and suddenly feel like we need to write more music. I don’t think we’d be the sort of people writing, “Oh, we’re on a tour bus and we’re all 90 years old so we go to bed really early.” [Laughs] It’d be a very, very boring album. So you just kind of need to have fun, and experience life a little bit, so it takes some time. It’s also good for us to have a little bit of time off and be able to start writing during our time off, because otherwise it starts sounding too similar to what you’re currently doing. There are some ideas that sometimes start coming during soundcheck that might not go anywhere, and sometimes they’ll end up on the album. We don’t really have a formula when we’re writing a Daughter song.
AK: What’s coming up for Daughter in 2017?
RA: I don’t know…for a moment we really don’t have anything in our schedules. It will be good to take a little break from touring, and be at home and learn how to cook again, and not have to ask our tour manager what time to go for breakfast every morning—things we forget after being on the road for too long. Also, going back to what I just said, I don’t want you to think I don’t know how to cook! [Laughs] It will be good to be home for a bit, and come up with ideas and not feel the pressure of having to be on top of your A-game. That can be a little stressful, especially as the crowds get bigger…like I’m sick at the moment. I mean, it’s not the end of the world, but I just want to make sure if I’m singing the backing vocals I don’t want to sound like a chicken. [Laughs] Also, you just want to perform well for people, and having a little bit of time off, you come back with a fresher mind and probably sound as well.
AK: What are you most excited about in returning to Seattle at the end of this month?
RA: We’ve been to Seattle many times. We’ve played from downstairs at Neumos to bigger places…The Showbox is the last one we did. It’s one of those cities we specifically love. I’ve spent a lot of time there. My girlfriend’s sister lives in Bellingham, so I’ve done the trip personally a few times as well to visit, and the Pacific Northwest in general is just in my opinion awesome. I mean, the music scene is pretty insane when you look at the history of the bands that have made it out of there, and I think there’s a reason for it. It’s a good place to live or spend time and…KEXP! We’ve done a few sessions and they’ve always gone pretty amazingly, or the reaction from the session has been bigger than we expected. So we like it there. We’ll see what happens with the time off; maybe we’ll spend some time there.
Catch Daughter headline The Neptune Theater with special guest Alexandra Savior this Saturday, November 27, 2016. Tickets available here.
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