Northern State (07 septembre 2007)

Entrevue de Melissa Hetu avec Spero + Hesta

Le trio new-yorkais NORTHERN STATE vient tout juste de nous proposer un nouveau long jeu intitulé Can I Keep This Pen?. Le groupe sera de passage à Montréal les 12 et 13 octobre prochain au National en première partie de TEGAN & SARA. PunkMeUp a eu la chance de parler avec deux des filles…voici notre entretient.

[MELISSA]: Listening to your new album, you notice that there’s a fusion of many different music styles (electro, hip hop, rock, pop). I was wondering if you could tell me what you think influences this diversity? What are the things that inspire your music?

[SPERO]: We were all playing in rock bands for fun leading up to recording Can I Keep This Pen?, and I think that was a big influence. We were playing guitar, drums, singing etc in these side projects and we definitely brought some of that to this album. Also working with Chuck Brody on the album (he produced the album, minus the two tracks produced by Adrock) helped us to incorporate a lot of different influences. Chuck has amazing pop and hip hop credits and also produces a lot of rock, so working with him really helped us to blend musical styles - which we have always done…but we definitely pushed that farther than ever on this album.

[MELISSA]: Comparing it to your previous records, there’s definitely a lot more singing and less rapping in this album. You seemed to have explored new venues…Why those changes? Would you say this album is more of a growth or a departure for NORTHERN STATE?

[HESTA] : This album is definitely more of a growth for the band. One good thing about being on Columbia was that they let us A&R our own album. We worked with some amazing people on All CityPete Rock, Questlove from THE ROOTS who we also toured with, Muggs from CYPRESS HILL - and made a really awesome hip-hop album that we are really proud of. When it came time to make Can I Keep This Pen?, there was a natural progression towards more melody driven songs, more singing, more harmonies, etc - we had already made our real hip-hop record and had been growing and changing as songwriters since that time. The new sound reflects those changes.

[MELISSA]: What I find is cool about your new album is that it’s hard to classify in one genre…Is that something you're proud of? Proud to be pushing the boundaries?

[HESTA]: CIKTP? is definitely a genre-blending and bending album and we are really proud to be part of the group of musicians that are pushing the boundaries. Its alternative hip-hop, it's also electro-rock, it's lots of different kinds of music morphing into a cohesive sound.

[SPERO]: I agree, many of my favorite bands are known for blending genres, like the BETA BAND and SUBLIME and the BEASTIE BOYS - I always wanted to be in a band like that, and I feel like we have succeeded more than ever on this album.

[MELISSA]: How was it like to work with Chuck Brody and Adrock? Why did you guys want to work with them? Are these people you admire/respect their work? Has working with them taught you anything?

[SPERO]: I talked about Chuck a little already. We had worked with him on our last album All City and wanted to work more with him so we were really psyched that he was up for doing this album together. He is a producer who seamlessly moves between rock, pop and hip hop better than anyone else I know of. And working with Adrock was obviously amazing. We have known him for a few years and he has always been really supportive of us. He helped us to really loosen up in the studio and not be afraid to just act like idiots and say whatever came to mind - the songs we did with him - Oooh Girl and Sucka Mofo - have a lot of personality and a lot of 'snaps' as he would say. He is totally awesome and funny and easygoing and working with him and with Chuck was a dream come true!

[MELISSA]: You guys have a really interesting album title, could you explain to my why you chose this title and if it means anything in particular?

[HESTA]: Have you seen the movie Ghost? The answer lies within.

[MELISSA]: How different is it for you to now be on Ipecac? The way things work? How you’re treated?

[HESTA] : Ipecac is an amazing label with amazing people, we got really really lucky to be able to work with them on this album. Their roster is so eclectic and they are truly an artist friendly, creative and exciting label.

[MELISSA]: Did you guys learn anything from the experience of being at Columbia? Did you realize anything?

[SPERO]: We learned a ton. We learned how to work in the studio on a much more professional level. Prior to making “All city” on Columbia we were kinda three gals in a very DIY mentality, scraping things together however we could. But we emerged from that Columbia experience as real musicians who were confident about how to make a good studio album. We also learned a lot about what it takes to make a record release succeed. We were not at all satisfied with the level of attention Columbia gave to All City and there is nothing that can teach you what you need for a release to succeed like watching all of those things NOT happen. We really learned through watching their mistakes what questions we needed to be asking this time around, and where the emphasis needs to be. We were MUCH more involved in those things with this album and luckily Ipecac is a label that isn’t frightened off by artists asking questions and making suggestions about how their own albums should be marketed. They actually welcome it, which is VERY rare. We are a self-managing band so being with a label who is so accepting of that is amazing - we learned from Columbia that many labels are not interested in being a team with the artist. Luckily this time around we found a label that is!

[MELISSA]: Do you think girls are well represented in Hip-Hop/Rap these days? Do you think there’s a good presence?

[SPERO]: I definitely think there is room for improvement, I would like to see not only more girls in hip hop, but I'd also like to see those who are involved taking more risks with their look, sound, and the subject matter/ content of their material.

[MELISSA]: I know you’ve been friends for a long time, how important is friendship in a group of music?

[SPERO]: I don’t know about other bands, but in our band it is THE most important thing. I realized a while ago that nothing works with our band if our friendships aren’t working. It’s hard because we work ALL THE TIME and sometimes it's easy to forget that we were friends first, but I think we do a really good job of still finding time to have fun and making sure that we always remember why we chose to work together in the first place. We really love and respect one another and even though we often disagree about work stuff, we try really hard to not let that seep into our friendships. Its very challenging, but we have been doing it for a while and I am very proud of us and think we keep getting better at it.

[MELISSA]: I know you’ll be opening up for TEGAN & SARA this fall, what are you most looking forward to? Excited to be on a primarily girl tour?

[SPERO]: Oh my god! We are looking forward to it all! We have toured a little with them in the past, and they are good friends of ours. We love being on an all girl tour, and touring with TEGAN & SARA is the only time we have ever done it! And as of the last time we toured with them the same went for them, not sure if that has changed by now. But we were both amazed at how few opportunities had come up for both of us over the years to tour with other girls. It's just fun and empowering to be on the road with them, and their support of us means soo much to us. Those gals rock. Period.

Un gros merci à [SPERO] et [HESTA] d’avoir pris le temps de répondre à nos questions ainsi qu’à Melanie Kaye d’avoir rendu cette entrevue possible.

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