Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo of The Raveonettes sat down with Strangeways for a chat, prior to their performance in Detroit on September 30, 2012
Q: Is there a connection between the record being called Observator but the first single being Observations?
Sharin: yeah there is.
Q: Why not both Observations or both Observator?
Sharin: Well I mean with the album Lust Lust Lust we had the song Lust on the
album which kinda came as a center piece of the album, it sort of defined that album
in a sense. And the same thing with this album, Observations was kind of the
song that we really felt that strong identity and sound to it that we wanted. We
wanted it to gravitate and it sort of has a gravitating pull to it. That’s what we
really wanted to be the center piece of this album.
Q: How does your creative process work? Are you inspired by a song or group
of songs and create an album from it or do you get a concept first and write
songs around that?
Sune: A little bit of everything you know songs, movies, life. It can come from
anywhere just sitting on the piano playing you know. There’s no golden rule.
Q: What would you say distinguished Observations from your prior records
sonically as well as from a songwriting standpoint?
Sune: (laughing) It’s not as good. (laughing) The other ones sound a lot better.
Q: You guys put out records really fast, do you guys feel the pressure to get it out real quick?
Sune: No not really. I think they’re all just very different you know. They all have
sonic qualities and they all stand out on their own. I don’t really compare them to
anything because they’re just very different albums.
Q: Well it seems like early on ‘Whip It On’ was really 50’s inspired and then you kind of went through a 60’s spectrum so that’s why I was wondering if there was a sonic quality to this album or is it just a collection of songs?
Sharin: Yeah a collection of songs. Obviously you know the piano is featured on
this album which we haven’t really done that before so I think that distingushes it
from the other albums.
Q: Who played piano?
Sune: I did.
Sharin: I don’t know it’s not necessarily deliberate but I think when I listen to it, it has some references to the 80’s. I hear Kate Bush, The Smiths and The Cure
occasionally on this album.
Q: Not one of your favorites huh?
Sune: What the new record? Oh no I was just joking, I love all the albums because they’re very different.
Q: What’s your favorite song off the new record?
Sune: For me personally it’s Observations.
Q: Did you get to choose that as your single or did the record label?
Sune: Oh no, we are the label, we choose everything.
Q: So is Vice not your label or are the just more of a distributor?
Sune: They work with us on other things too.
Sharin: They’re our label/distributor.
Q: I was curious since you’re a small indie like band and you guys have had such success, why you chose to stay with Vice instead of going to a bigger label?
Sharin: Well I don’t even know if a bigger label would want to work with us to be
honest with you.
Sune: We probably wouldn’t want to work with a big label either. I mean we have
Sharin: Yeah in the end for us it doesn’t matter artistically where we are whether
its a big label or a small label. We’re doing whichever albums were doing. We
did the albums we wanted to do with Columbia records, Sony records, and we’re
doing what we want to do now on an indie label and we have our own label.
I think that I don’t know ultimately we’re not necessarily a super mainstream
Q: Actually around here I think you would be surprised how well known at least the name is. Do you guys find the way you’re received in America different than you are in Europe?
Sune: One big difference we seem to have older fans over here like people in
their late 40’s, 50’s stuff like that. In Europe we have younger fans it’s a different
Q: Another band I was interviewing said that American fans see it more as an
idol thing and it’s more of an autographs and take my picture thing and in Europe it’s more of a friendship type feel. Would you say that’s the same or opposite?
Sharin: No, well I don’t I know, I never thought of the specific difference. I feel like
some albums seem to appeal more to the U.S. and some albums appeal more to
Europe. The album Pretty in Black had a lot of appeal in the U.S. and I feel like this new album seems to appeal a lot to Europe. I mean it’s all a speculation.
Q: Pretty in Black had that L.A. sound to it. It was a very American record right?
Sharin: Yeah, but I try to not analyze things honestly in terms of getting the album out there and who the receiving end is and our audience. We really appreciate our fans and I think we have a good dialogue with them. We try to just make good albums really.
Q: What would you say is the song that’s considered the crowd favorite?
Sune: Right now Gone Forever seems to go over really well. Attack Of The
Ghost Riders is good, Aly Walk With Me that seems to go really well. They like
Hallucinations, the first song we play, and they also like Dead Sound a lot.
Sharin: They also seem to like new songs. Young and Cold seems to go over well.
Sharin: and Sinking With the Sun.
Sune: People seem to be really happy when we play Love Can Destroy
Q: What’s your favorite song to play?
Sune: For me personally it’s Gone Forever.
Q: Is it your favorite in your catalog or just a favorite to play?
Sune: Yeah absolutely. It’s one of my favorite songs in our catalog, it’s definitely top ten. I think it’s just really great to play that song.
Q: Is there any significance to the Magic Stick? You guys have played here the last 3 times you came to Detroit.
Sharin: Oh I think it’s the last 8 times we’ve been to Detroit.
Sune: haha yeah and they still don’t have a toilet backstage.
Q: Do you pick this venue or is this just where you play?
Sune: We’re not really big enough to play anywhere else I mean what would the
next step be? What’s here?
Q: Saint Andrews Hall, The Majestic, The Crofoot, The Pike Room. I love the
Magic Stick it’s one of the best venues here. Unlike a lot of touring bands these
days, you have been blessed with amazing support acts like The Black Angels,
Tamaryn and Melody’s Echo Chamber. Do you get to hand select your openers?
Sune: Yup we certainly do.
Q: How did you come across Melody’s Echo Chamber? I’m just been hearing
them recently but I like them a lot.
Sharin: Yeah, well actually we got an e-mail from our agent this time around
saying that we just signed this band from Paris and they’re going to come out
with an album really soon so see what you think. So he was the one that actually
turned us on to it. We listened to a couple songs and we really liked it.
Q: It definitely helped generate the buzz for them. I know with The Black Angels, and Tamaryn a lot of local people were excited about those show. It was a good double bill.
Sharin: Oh yeah definitely.
Q: Do you guys bond with the bands you tour with?
Sharin: Yeah it’s been great.
Sune: Yeah we definitely do.
Q: What are you guys listening to right now?
Sune: Well I was just listening to some Burial on the ol’ Spotify and I seem to
really like that band a lot. I realized I like them a lot.
Sharin: Oh you were just talking about them yesterday.
Sune: Yeah, I keep listening to them all the time.
Sharin: I should listen to them. I don’t know them
Sune: Yeah you should.
Q: You guys give away a lot of free downloads. What’s your stance on that?
Sharin: In the beginning to be honest with you, we wanted to give away when
we launched. It was too expensive because you have to pay to give away so we
couldn’t do it. But that’s been our philosophy since the beginning.
Q: Do you do it to help generate buzz for a new record or just to give back to the fans?
Sharin: We do it for multiple reasons. First off you know sometimes we’ve been
giving away demos for albums because it’s an interesting process for people to
be a part of. For them to listen to how songs evolve and develop and how they
become on the album. Ultimately we don’t really make money off of songs and
albums so might as well just give it away.
Q: It seems like every other day there was free download off of sites like
Stereogum or some place. I mean on one hand you want to sell your records but it really generates the buzz and helps people get excited about the record. I know some bands are anti download.
Sharin: Yeah we’re not.
Sune: We’re total pro.
Sharin: We embrace it.
Q: So the music industry has changed a lot since you started. Do you like where it is now or the way it was?
Sune: I liked it better before because there was a lot of money and we didn’t
have to do much. (laughs) Now we have to take care of everything like Facebook
Q: So you guys do your own social media?
Sune: Yeah, yeah so it’s so much. It used be maybe 20% of business and 80%
music and now it’s pretty much the opposite I feel sometimes.
Q: Yeah you’re on the road a lot.
Sune: Yeah but to me that’s the fun part. It’s more relaxed and you get to hang
out together and have fun.
Q: You live in the U.S. now right?
Sune: Yeah ten years.
Q: Both New York?
Sharin: I live in L.A.
Sune: I’m moving to L.A. but I’ve been in New York for ten years.
Q: What made you decide to move over here? Was it that the promotion of your music was here?
Sune: Everything is just bigger and better over here. (laughs)
Sharin: Well obviously since we got signed to an American label out of New York,
it seemed like a natural thing to do. We come from a small country, it’s wonderful
and it’s got an amazing quality of life. It’s also very small, it’s a country of 5
million people. There’s kind of a limit to how varied it can be, it’s just small.
Q: Do you feel an obligation to help or support other bands from Denmark?
Sharin: Uh we have. We don’t feel any obligation, we will do if we love someone
from Denmark. I think I will love that country forever. I mean I romanticize it but I
live in Los Angeles. I don’t know what that says.
Q: How do you feel about the resurgance of vinyl because not everyone does
vinyl. You’re pretty consistent with vinyl and is it something you really believe in or do you see the sales go better with vinyl?
Sune: I think it’s just a matter of catering to people and we know a lot of people
buy vinyl so you should have vinyl for them. I mean I think it’s just that really, I
don’t personally listen to vinyl at home because I just don’t. I think it looks great
on vinyl and you know people really love buying vinyl so that they should have it.
Sharin: We really do have the kind of fans that are music lovers and a lot of
music lovers tend to buy vinyl. There is no reason why we wouldn’t make vinyl. I
get excited when I hold the vinyl.
Q: I was pleasantly surprised on the Lust Lust Lust tour that you had the vinyl for sale. I think it just gives the fans that extra something.
Sharin: Yeah, we get a lot of requests to do Pretty in Black, but can’t because
that’s Columbia records. We’re not allowed to make that into a vinyl and we don’t
have the rights to do it so they’re not going to do it.
Q: You mentioned that one. Is Pretty in Black one of your favorite records?
Sharin: No actually it’s not all.
Q: Do you have a favorite?
Sharin: I love Lust Lust Lust. I love Whip It On and Chain Gang of Love those
would have to be my favorites. I like the new one too, but you know.
Q: We posted on our Facebook that we were going to do this interview and the
song people seem to be mentioning the most is that That Great Love Sound.
Sharin: Yeah yeah.
Q: Are you going to play that one live?
Sune: Nah, doesn’t excite me. (laughs)
Sharin: We haven’t played it. We did play it a couple of times on this tour, but you
have to be in that certain mood to play it.
Sune: It’s a boring song to play that’s the thing. We like to play songs we
like playing you know what I mean? It’s just not as fun of a song to play, but
sometimes it goes down really well. We usually play it at festivals because it’s a
different vibe when you play it in that type of environment. I think playing it in a
club got a little tiresome for us you know? But we’ll play it now or again. (laughs)
Q: I bet the songs off the album after Lust Lust Lust that has some songs I think would be fun live. You know stuff like Bang! and Suicide.
Sune: In And Out Of Control the songs are too hard for us to play.
Q: Hard as in loud or hard as in difficulty?
Sune: In difficulty actually Gone Forever is the only song we play off of that right
now. Again when we play festivals we really like playing Heart Of Stone it seems
to translate really well on a bigger stage.
Sharin: Yeah Heart Of Stone, Gone Forever and Boys From Rape would be my
Sune: My favorite song was Breaking Into Cars just to get that out there.
Sharin: I’m not a big fan of that one.
Q: Do you play the same set every night on tour or do you mix it up city by city?
Sharin: Well we sort of try to get into a flow of a setlist and find a flow that feels
good. We sort of try out different things to start with. Now we play the same set
list for last couple of days because for us it’s still a week tour. Yesterday we were
talking about the setlist because it was a Saturday night and maybe our setlist
was a little slow, introverted and mellow. Maybe it wasn’t suitable for a weekend
kind of a crowd.
Sune: It was a festival set.
Sharin: Maybe we should’ve been a little more party minded but I don’t know.
Somedays you just want to cater to the people and someday you just want to
cater for yourself. It sort of depends what were in I think if that makes any sense.
Q: Do you guys have moment in your career where you realized you made it or
this was going to be a permanent thing?
Sune: Yeah when we signed with Columbia records.
Q: What album was that?
Sune: That was Whip It On.
Q: If you had to pick a career besides a musician what would you do?
Sune: I would probably be in the food and wine business. I’m like already in it.
Sharin: Yeah I would do something going towards art or something like that.