Chvrches – Live at Pygmalion Music Festival 2014 (Interview)

This weekend, WPGU’s Boswell Hutson got to sit down with Scottish electro-pop trio CHVRCHES before their performance headlining Champaign’s Pygmalion Music Festival, to talk about music, Scotland, couches and collaborations. Check it out!

Boswell Hutson (WPGU): You guys are arguably one of most explosive bands of 2014. It’s only been a year since The Bones of What You Believe was released, and Lauren, you were actually in Journalism school and got a law degree, could you ever see yourself jumping into such a rigorous touring schedule so quickly?

Lauren Mayberry (Chvrches): We’ve all been in other bands for quite a long time, actually. So I guess this is just a slightly busier and more elevated version of that. I’d been out of university for about 4 years before we started doing this band, so yeah, we’ve done quite a bit in a short amount of time, but I guess you only get to go those places where people actually want to see the band, so that’s the positive thing. I guess you just have to try to put the work in for your band and see what happens.

BH: This may seem a little out of left field, but are you guys familiar with XXYYXX?

Iain Cook (Chvrches): We toured with him!

Martin Doherty (Chvrches): Yeah, we had him on the road with us for 5 weeks last summer. He’s a really good kid.

BH: He’s kind of a perfect example of this digital age that we live in with music, when a 16 year-old kid in his bedroom can make one of the best mixtapes of the year. I know you guys have previously spoken out about being in favor of this hands-on style of music, but do you think you’ve benefited from this new exposure and wave of DIY music?

IC: We just do what we do in isolation, and I think that’s just symptomatic of the way that technology is and the way that people are becoming. It gives more experience to people but also having more access to tutorials online and stuff, and just being able to pick things up themselves without having to go to college and do like 4 years of school.

MD: The actual mediums for distribution are the important thing. For sure we have benefited from that. The idea that you can put a song online and 50,000 people or 100,000 people will have heard it in a 24 hour period simply wasn’t possible before our era, and is hugely beneficial for us, or was, certainly on the way up. It takes more than that for it to translate into a career, you know? It takes a lot of work in the real world after that.

BH: This is your first ever headlining appearance at a festival, is that right?

IC: I suppose it is, yeah.

LM: This is one of the more boutique-y festivals we’ve been playing recently. Normally we go on a second or third stage kind of jive.

BH: Are you excited about that?

MD: [Laughs] I hadn’t even thought about it, to be honest. I thought American Football was headlining this festival, but they’re on a different day from us. I’m really disappointed about that. I’m a huge fan. Just that one album, it dropped and it was such an important record to me when I was very young.

BH: You guys have started this really cool twitter campaign called #LeaveOutTheTout before all of your shows, where you connect fans looking for tickets with each other as a way of cutting out scalpers. How did that come about?

LM: [Laughs] We didn’t realize that the word “tout” isn’t really a big thing in America. I thought that it was just a universal word for scalper, but apparently not. I just had to use a rhyme. I guess before that we’d just been retweeting people who had spare tickets for the shows, and if there were a centralized way of doing it would be a bit easier. Because we were such a big “blog-hype” band initially, people were buying up tickets and selling them, and I don’t agree with the culture of it. I think it’s making money off of people who are trying to do something pure and something that they like. I certainly grew up in the era of street teams and message boards and things like that, and I think it’s quite nice to promote that kind of a community where people can help each other out, rather than having to get a ticket off of StubHub for a ridiculous amount of money. I guess you can only do as much as you personally can as a band, but venues go through those ticket companies, so there’s not much small bands can do about it. It takes more in the industry to change it.

BH: I don’t mean to get too political here, but last week was a very big week for Scotland…

MD: Are you talking about the Euro 2016 qualifiers? [Laughs] But no, it was just one of those things that’s a personal thing. It’s something we have a strong opinion on and I’d rather not weigh that on it, especially when we asked about it by the UK media. I just strongly disagree with people who use their position as musicians, as influencers, for their music to impart their politics on people. I just don’t agree with that.

LM: Plus, for me, I guess there’s a difference between “Rock The Vote” type involvement and then people specifically saying what they are specifically, not even in the political party sense, but in a referendum, yes or no, sense. You’re talking about that in order to presumably get your fan base to vote the same, but I don’t know. It’s pretty divisive. We actually left the day before the vote.

MD: Actually, that was fucking amazing because all I’ve seen is a horrible stream of hate. It has divided the country right down the middle, and it’s quite a dark time. I can say this, at least: I was delighted to be on the other side of the world when it went down. There were riots and all that shit. It’s an important issue, but I just wish it didn’t create more anger than good, you know?

BH: You guys have some experience with remixes, including a really sweet Ms. Mr. track, and I was curious, if you could have one dream collaboration, who would it be?

LM: Elizabeth Fraser from the Cocteau Twins would be a good get, but that means I’d put myself out of a job. But if it was for Elizabeth Fraser, then that would be OK.

MD: I’d feel like taking somewhere outside the box, like Gloria Estefan or something. Someone who was formerly incredible who’s kind of slowed down a little bit is the goal, though.

IC: [Laughs] She’s probably doing, like, 6 nights in Vegas right now.

MD: Sure, sure. That doesn’t mean she’s doing 7 nights. She can do the collab when she’s got a night off. What’s the problem?

LM: Madlib. I’d like to collab with Madlib.

MD: Yeah, Madlib’s not a bad idea.

BH: What’s next for you guys?

IC: We’re making another record!

MD: Get excited. I feel preggars with ideas. I’m ready to get recording.

BH: Where do you guys record?

MD: Just at home, at Iain’s place, in the same humble studio we used to record the first album.

IC: We’ll touch it up a little bit! [Laughs]

MD: We can afford some keyboards and stuff, now. And I might get a nicer couch.

IC: Maybe a rug as well.

LM: The old couch leaves fluff everywhere. It leaves fluff on everyone that sits on it.

MD: We need to have someone paint it as well.

IC: Yeah! Looks like we’ve got a lot of work to do. Paint it and get a rug and some keyboards and then we’re back.

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