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Van She

Van She

Tuesday 17th July, 2012 8:20AM

Van She have just released their sophomore album Ideas of Happiness, and are celebrating with an Australasian tour, playing Auckland and Wellington dates this week. UTR caught up with the band to discuss the new album, how they've grown as a band over the past four years and what it means to be signed to one of the most respected electronic labels in the world.

What have you guys been up to lately?

We’ve been preparing for the album release like crazy so since Sunday has been the first time we’ve actually gotten to take a bit of a breather. So I’ve just been hanging out with my mum and then I’m unfortunately going to a wake this afternoon.

It must feel great to have the album out though?

Yeah all of that stuff is really good.

Tell us a little bit about writing and recording the new album, Ideas of Happiness.

Well with the first record we went to the UK to work with a big man producer and I think the second time around – after doing all the remixes and learning a lot about ourselves, and we actually learned a lot from doing the first record – we knew what we wanted to achieve. If we didn’t know how to do something we could just Google it too. So we built our own studio and it was lovely because we didn’t have the budget or time restraints we had first time around.

Was there anything particular going into writing and recording this album that you wanted to achieve?

Yeah, well the first record was a bit disjointed and schizophrenic and this time around we wanted to refine our sound and find a few sounds that we would use throughout the record to achieve a consistent sound. When you’re writing songs that are happy and uplifting they’re much more enjoyable to play live. On the last record we had a few that were a bit morose – quiet, a little bit more chilled out – but this album definitely has more of a club feel.

So are those the main differences between the first and sophomore records: producing it yourselves and making it more upbeat?

Yeah for sure. The first album is quite guitar-y and band-y whereas while there is guitar on this album it’s a different approach to the guitar. It’s more of a rhythmic thing rather than a distorted, driving thing.

Does the fact that you wanted to write an upbeat record, and that you’ve called it Idea of Happiness speak to the state of mind of the band at the moment?

It’s a complicated answer, because there are four members and every member will have their individual perspective on why it is the way it is but at the same time there are a couple of overarching things that contributed to it as well. For me, personally, the studio that we built was underground and there was very little natural light so for everyone there was a massive idea of escapism: wanting to be somewhere really nice and happy. So we thought of Jamaica, and thought ‘wouldn’t it be amazing if we could fly to Jamaica and make a film clip’ and so we wrote the album and then we did just that. So the whole album has a theme of escapism woven through it: and our idea of escapism is that kind of tropical place where there is a beautiful ocean and fruit and things.

Tell me where you guys are at as a band because it has been a really big couple of years since releasing your debut.

Um, yeah for sure. We’ve been on tour for two years. We started writing a while ago and the record has actually been finished for a year, so it’s been four years. It has been a reflective process but we’ve also had a bit of time to come to grips with everything.

Modular has such a directional sound and aesthetic. Tell me what it means to be on that label and how you got involved.

We were really lucky actually: we had our first gig at a club called 77. The owner of Modular heard a demo and heard that we were playing at this club and came down to see us and he chatted to us and he signed us, and it was pretty much our first gig. It wasn’t because we were tight or anything and I think that’s what a great scout does: they find a band when they’re young and not very good and take them on board and grow and develop them, so for us we were really lucky for that to happen. When this opportunity came up we had a meeting among ourselves and there was no other label we would want to be on so that worked perfectly.

You guys are heading to New Zealand this week to play a couple of live shows. How does the record translate from recorded to live?

We’ve revamped a couple of our old songs for this tour and are playing them in a different way: to fit in more with the new record. The last time we played in new Zealand was almost a year ago – and I remember that beause it was my Birthday. IT was actually a Billabong snowboarding competition or something and we had a really good time and the crowd was awesome. I wouldn’t say the live show is dancier but it’s more electronic for sure, and the way we play our instruments has been changed up as well. I think you guys will find it a bit more dynamic, a bit more exciting.

So where to from here for Van She?

Well we’ll be going to American and Europe and then we come back. It’s kind of hard when you’re in a band: it’s really hard to predict where you’re going to be. Next week someone might ask us to play in Brazil and then we’re in Brazil so it’s pretty difficult to predict. As long as people like it and we’re fun doing it then we’re just going to keep doing it.


Van She play Auckland and Wellington this week - see below for gig details and for links to get tickets - here is their latest single from the new album 'Jamaica'....