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Interview
Yellow Fever

Yellow Fever

date
Thursday 5th May, 2011 9:06AM

Yellow Fever are a two piece hailing from Austin, Texas who utilize organic sounds for their own unique, DIY take on post punk. We caught up with Alex Svenson-Metés in anticipation of their New Zealand tour, to chat about their upcoming releases and why their band name has nothing to do with tropical flu.

So you guys are about to head out on tour, right?

Yeah and we're so not prepared!, I feel like we always do this; we always procrastinate getting ready. Like we have to make a bunch of t-shirts still and re-print some CD’s and stuff, but it’ll come together. We head off not this Friday but next, so soon!

What are your feelings on the tour experience more generally?

I really enjoy touring and Jennifer does too. It’s kind of like the easiest thing, you have a schedule – your only obligation every day is to arrive at a venue and play. And I enjoy playing a lot so it’s pretty OK. I also like driving, I also like meeting new people and being in new places so it’s sweet.

And experiencing new crowds. How does the crowd affect your live show?

It can make for an excellent show with an awesome new crowd. Especially going to somewhere like Australia, we have no idea how people are going to react. I mean I’m sure tastes are different over there than they are in North America, so who knows, we just hope people like it and walk away having had a good time.

Going back, tell me how Yellow Fever formed?

Jennifer and I and our old band mate Isabel had all been playing in bands, and had also played in bands together before – not as Yellow Fever – so Jennifer and Isabel kind of started a really simple band with this A’Capella thing. They played on whatever they could find - kitchen cabinets and spoons and pots and pans. It was like a recording project and they started doing that and then it transformed into yellow fever when I started playing with them and thye had an actual drummer. We took that original idea and kind of made it into a more band-like thing and it just keeps changing all the time to what it is now.

Elaborate on the original idea a little bit more – you wanted to use organic, found instruments?

We like home made sounding things - like Daniel Johnston from Austin is really inspring to us - and Jennifer was in a band called The Carrots and it was a sixties girl group, so she likes that kind of thing too. I personally like weird – Jennifer does too – early eighties / late seventies punk and new wave and no wave and late sixties free jazz stuff. It all kind of ended up influencing everything.

You’ve mentioned Austin a couple of times and it’s obviously where you guys live. Tell me about the creative community there.

It’s small, I mean it’s big overall but the indie rock musicians who are trying to do something new is pretty small group of people. We always end up seeing each other at the same shows; they support us, we support them. I feel like here it’s possible to have time to actually work on music and not worry about paying $1200 rent or something and be able to travel too, so I really like it. It’s really supportive.

Do you think there’s a particular sound coming out of the scene, or is it all really diverse?

It’s all over the place. I feel like I don’t really know anyone who knows what we’re doing. There’s a bit of a psychedelic thing going on at the moment. There’s not a specific sound but I feel like here everyone’s smart enough to like all different types of things.

So tell me about the band name, Yellow Fever?

Jennifer thought of it as being exited about the colour yellow. Not like some Asian fetish or flu or whatever, but thinking bout it like it was enthusiasm for yellow, but most people think of it in a different way, we’ve come to find. That’s fine though, at least it gives people something to talk about.

You guys are a duo. Do you find it limiting?

I like things about it. I think a three piece is kind of super ideal because you can’t have less responsibilities but the two piece is interesting because we try to make it more than a two-piece. We play multiple instruments at once so that’s a challenge and I like that and so does Jennifer. I feel like it’s probably affected our writing style and how I play drums and stuff because I have to play synthesizer and drums at the same time so I can’t always play things I would want to play on drums. I think it’s good to have limitations.

Tell me a little bit about the Yellow Fever songwriting process.

Generally Jennifer will write a vocal melody or I’ll come up with some kind of instrumental thing and she’ll come up with vocal on top of it and we kind of have to do it separately. We don’t work well together jamming necessarily so we both do it on Garage Band and then put it together and come up with a rough draft and that’s pretty much what it’s going to be like. Then we try figure out how to play it as a two piece with multiple instruments afterwards. I feel like it’s a weird process but I like the songs that are coming out of this process so we’re pretty happy.

You're about to release your first full length album. Tell me about it?

It’s actually a compilation of EP’s that we’ve made that were barely distributed and were on a really small label and a seven inch. So it’s a compilation of those few things and it was put out by our friends Vivian Girls who started a small label called Wild World which was really helpful because we got great distribution, and luckily it got put out in Australia too and that’s how we’re able to play in Australia now, so it’s awesome to have the album out.

What are you working on at the moment?

We are working on new material but we’ve got a full length album that’s completely recorded that’s being mixed tonight – it’s been being mixed for a while but I feel like tonight or tomorrow it will be finished – and then we’ve got a couple of label options and we’re just going to see with these final mixes what’s going to work. I’m thinking early Fall is most likely. We’ve also got a seven inch coming out a smaller label from New York that just does records, and that should be a lot of fun and that should be out hopefully in July. So yeah lots of stuff coming up.

Courtney Sanders