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Architecture in Helsinki

Architecture in Helsinki

Friday 8th April, 2011 11:57AM

Architecture in Helsinki had been quietly whittling away as independent darlings of Australian music when they released Places Like This in 2007, and, with madcap singles like ‘Heart it Races’ and ‘Like it or Not’ captured the musical minds of a broader audience. Now they’re back with Modular released Moments Bends, and UTR caught up with lead singer Cameron Bird to discuss the band’s return to Melbourne, the blessing of having their own space to record, and the colour blue.

Tell me about the new album, Moment Bends.

We started at least thinking about it a few years ago. There were a few breaks and creative sabbaticals you know, and we really started locking down on it in early 2009. We worked on it for pretty much all of 2009 and we finished in September last year. We had our own space so that made things a lot easier time-wise; we could come and go as we needed to so that was great.

How did you progress musically on this album compared to previous releases?

It differs from song to song and from album to album, but I guess with this one we really wanted to take a lot of time and let it grow really organically, and make sure we didn’t compromise any of the songs and make sure that they were allowed to grow until they weren’t going to grow anymore. We always write in the studio – we never write in any other way - but the songs took shape in the studio by us bringing in ideas and allowing them to grow from there.

Are there any themes or ideas running through the album?

There was probably a little bit of being overwhelmed by the physical world, and the power of the universe, after some crazy things have happened lately. There was definitely a sentimental element, more so than our last record. We’re back in Melbourne together for the first time in a really long time so there was this sense of reconnecting to Melbourne and Australia and to that experience.

Because you have all been living in different parts of the world. Tell me what it was like getting back together?

I think we’ve been playing together for about seven or eight years which is a long time in terms of bands and I think the thing that really and I love playing in Architecture in Helsinki is that everyone’s always up for evolving and changing the way we work, and the sounds we’re making. Everyone’s really happy to not still be in one place musically, so with this record we just wanted to push ourselves forward with what we could do and what we could make.

Was recording in Melbourne important to the overall sound?

We’d been pretty much touring for three years constantly and that’s not particularly healthy. You know it’s awesome when it’s happening but when you get home you realize you need some time to be a human again; to not live in a bubble. So coming back to Melbourne was really important from that perspective.


Is there a supportive creative community in Melbourne?

That’s part of the thing that’s best about Melbourne. All of our friends are in bands and in the arts and making music videos or making paintings or whatever It’s great to feel like you’re part of a community, and people from all over Australia are moving here because it’s got the best arts scene, which is great.

You recently signed to Modular. Tell me about that decision.

I guess they’ve been fans of the band and when it came to making the new record they approached us and were keen to work with us so when the record was finished we played I to them and they loved it and it made sense to us because a lot of our friends bands are on the label and you know creatively as a label they’re got a really great thing going on and it was a really easy choice to make.

Tell me about the visual element of Architecture in Helsinki – it seems pretty significant.

Yeah, like you said the record covers, liners and photographs are as important as the music in a way. Obviously the music is the most important thing but unless you’ve got the whole package going on it’s always going to feel compromised and strange. We’ve definitely been trying really hard to get everything right in that respect because it just means the music becomes more fully realized when these things are working together in harmony.

There’s lots of science and chemistry-oriented visuals. Tell me a little bit about what you were trying to get across:

Yeah, there’s a little bit of that (questioning reality and the physical world) but also a lot of it came back to the colour blue and that was a re-occurring theme or feeling throughout the songs. It’s in reference to the blue that happens right as the day turns to night and that feeling and that’s the moment that is bending with the day – the Moment Bends in the day – so yeah I think all of the art and the ideas behind it were in reference to lyrics and to songs and to overall songs to the record.

Who did you collaborate with on the artwork?

The photographs were done by a photographer from London who are kind of known for their commercial still life work and we asked them to be a part of it and they were into it.

Tell me about the video for ‘Contact High’

Some friends of ours from Melbourne are Directors and we put together the ideas and they presented a couple of different treatments and we said we wanted it to feel like a Robert Palmer video. They went over to Paris to make the video and they gave us a list of people for casting for the main character and the person they choose was an amazing looking specimen and it worked really well.

How have you guys progressed musically on Moment Bends from previous releases?

I guess we started out when we recorded our first album - it was very much an experiment in what would happen if we wrote songs. The first album consists of the first songs that we’d ever written as a band there was nothing before that and having not come from a musical background at all as a songwriter it had this naïve ‘I am learning as I go along’ kind of thing. We record to try to re-interpret and improve and do something we haven’t done before. Our agenda and our rational for making music has never changed, it’s always been about trying to write the best record you can with the ability that you have and the resources you have at that time, and I think with this record we’ve got to a point where we’ve realized what we wanted to do because it ticks all the boxes of what we were setting out to do with the record. There’s nothing we set out to do creatively that we didn’t achieve which is a really nice feeling.

What do you want people to take away from Moment Bends?

I’d like to think people can have a deep connection to it. Obviously it’s a pop record but I’d like to think that they can also connect to the music and the arrangements and the ideas and the emotion of the record. I know I probably listen to it differently to everyone else but every time I listen to it from start to finish I feel exhausted because it is a pop record but it’s super involving. That’s something we wanted to do to make; something that had an emotional resonance. I hope that it takes people somewhere and they don’t just put it on and keep doing the dishes.

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