eux autres. whenever i listen to them, i get this awesome feeling that takes me back to 2005 when i first heard them. it all started when i spotted 'other girls' on a mixtape. love at first listen.
then, when i heard hell is eux autres, their first lp, they already had me around their musical fingers.
with the combination of french-english lyrics, clappings, boy-girl dialogues and catchy melodies, how could i not fall for them? it seems that songs like 'the sundance kid', 'carolina' and 'ecoutez bien!' were discovered yesterday because i listen to them with the same enthusiasm and fascination.
three years after their debut, cold city was released. (well, first we received two christmas songs
to make the most depressing time of the year a little happier). cold city seems almost like a second part of hell is eux autres, or its older brother (if that makes sense). the basic guitar and drums shared melodies with more instruments. there are less french words but it doesn't mean the songs are less charming. in fact, there are several verses that i could quote here - how can you not get chills listening to 'graceful exit' when heather sings "graceful exits work from a distance, but up close, blood flows need some resistance". and say you've never jumped around singing to the top of your lungs the part in 'the city all to himself' when they start "i’m bits and pieces, and bits and pieces don’t equal the whole".
in 2009, in a period of 5 months, two singles were released (or a single and an ep). and nicholas and heather weren't alone anymore. they were joined by yoshi nakamoto and nevada jones (love the name nevada jones!).
'you're alight' and 'strangled days' have some of their most melodic songs and they are beautiful. they sound 'louder' but they feel 'softer'...
well, time to see what nicholas and heather have to say for us...
two things, first:
1.i feel quite happy posting this today. eux autres is one of those bands i keep very close to my heart.
2. this is also a delayed birthday present to fernanda (see the mixtape below), another huge lover of the others. we started to love portland because of this band, and some of the nicest plans
concerning our future, were made listening to eux autres.
01. let's start talking about the band when you still were a duo. when did you realize that your musical compatibility was high enough to start playing together? and where does the name come from?
nicholas: i don't think we were really sure that it would work until we actually began playing together. we started with some covers, but the original songs came pretty quickly after that. i think the first one was 'other girls'. i came to practice with a few chords and it just kind of happened. at that point we thought, "hey, i guess we could actually do this." we hadn't really thought about it before the band, but it makes sense that we're on the same wavelength musically. we grew up listening to the same music, playing the same instrument (violin), and listening to our dad struggle through 'hotel california' on the banjo 1000 times.
heather: we originally planned on singing only in french...we were really obsessed with 60s french pop at the time. we loved how they often sang in broken, almost nonsensical english, so we thought, "hey, our french is pretty bad...we can do the same thing but in broken french!" anyway, we wanted a french name since we were singing in french. we were called les autres because it seemed kind of 1960s psychedelic. after a few months, someone informed us that there had been a french band called les autres, so we decided to change it. nicholas had a friend in montreal who suggested eux autres. it's quebecois slang meaning "the others," or literally "them others." it seemed great because it was only a slight change, but we completely overlooked the fact that most Americans have no idea how to say it.
02. what can we find in your universe? i mean, what influences you as humans and musicians...
nicholas: my top 5 bands at the moment are: the kinks, the replacements, thin lizzy, pavement, and the four tops. i have a slight obsession with italo calvino, a lifelong love affair with the smurfs,
and i'm a soccer fanatic.
heather: i love the bee gees, 80's punk music, fugazi, spoon, and contemporary metal like red fang and the sword. i'm influenced by fashion, art, and design (like most people who make things). i get obsessed with certain things and then have to delve deeply into them.
my current obsession is vintage hawaiiana--the clothes, the music, the architecture, the design. i just bought a ukelele and love how it sounds playing old country and western songs like patsy cline.
03. you have two awesome and consistent albums and a few eps and singles. how's your creative and recording process? and has it changed since yoshi joined the band?
nicholas: usually, i come to practice with a riff, a song, a demo, or something like that. then heather and i hash it out before we present it to the rest of the band. at that point we all work on the structure and rhythm section. playing it a hundred times definitely helps sort things out. i think the difference with having two new band members is that we get two fresh perspectives. yoshi will often head home and then come back the next day with some great drum beat that we wouldn't have come up with, and it makes the song sound 10x better.
04. some people say your songs are 'cute'. in my opinion, they are, indeed, cute but some of them have this (shy) sadness and are profoundly deep. i feel that specially when i listen to your second
album 'cold city'. where do you find inspiration to create your lyrics?
nicholas: i think a lot of the lyrical inspiration comes from bands we grew up listening to. artists from the 80s and 90s. i think we draw more from them than lyricists from the 1960s. i think writing in french, a language we aren't fluent in, helps a lot. it gets me to think more about sounds and not be so concerned with finding the exact right words.
heather: i'm inspired by a feeling i want to capture, sort of like an emotional palette. and to me that's much more about sound than words. i just try not to let the words get too much in the way. i think about what vowel sounds i want, and then choose words around that usually.
05. what's your view on music distribution nowadays? and what do you think is the role of music blogs on this matter?
nicholas: i love it. music blogs have helped me discover so much new music, and they've definitely helped a lot more people hear our music. i go buy albums of bands that i like in order to help support them (i also prefer having the physical object), because i know that many bands i listen to are like us in that the spend a lot of money to make their records. but i do understand why people share files. i think they love music and they want to share that music with others. i
completely understand that side of it too.
06. anything you can share about your third album?
nicholas: it's done! we're just mixing it right now. hopefully, it will be out this fall. i think it's maybe a little heavier than the other two. a little darker sometimes, as well.
heather: it's definitely more textural. more to sink your teeth into and discover.
07. do you get to live of music or have another job?
nicholas: unfortunately, music isn't paying the bills. i am a graphic designer and animator by trade.
heather: i work in advertising sometimes. it's creative, it works your brain hard, and you get to hang out with very smart and cool people.
08. you have a few songs that i categorize as perfect pop songs: 'carolina', 'other girls', 'the sundance kid', 'deadball era', 'graceful exits'... what's a perfect pop song for you?
nicholas: hmmm... at the moment, i think it's a close contest between the flamin' groovies' "shake some action," the bee gees' "nights on broadway," and "reflections" by the supremes...but it changes from day to day.
heather: wow. thank you for the compliment! i love blondie's "heart of glass," the beatles "you won't see me", and ed cobb's "tainted love."
but there are so so many. i could spend a week thinking about it and miss some of my favorites.
09. any song(s) you'd like to cover?
heather: tons of them. most pressing are papercuts' "the wolf". the misfits' "skulls".
10. name the perfect place and time to hear your music.
nicholas: on a sunny friday afternoon when it's too nice outside to work. you've left work early and you're having a drink outside at a bar, waiting for your friends to arrive to start the weekend. it's warm in the sun, but not too hot.
11. recommend something you've been listening lately.
nicholas: i've been listening to the dwight twilley band a lot lately. late 70s power pop. if you can find the song "looking for the magic," listen to it. it's a gem.
heather: i'm in love with the new beach house record. and love is all. and willie nelson.
12. anything else you feel like saying?
heather: thank you so much for interviewing us. and thanks for listening everybody. look for a new single in the next month. shhh...it's a surprise.