Bachelorette - Interviews - Soundblab


by Emily Bielby Rating: Release Date:

For those of you who don't know Bachelorette, it's a solo recording and live performance project by Annabel Alpers based in New Zealand. Inspired by a host of acts, including The Beatles, The Smiths, Aphex Twin and Kraftwerk, Bachelorette mixes 60s psychedelia and girl group pop with folk and uses lots and lots of vintage electronics to piece together her unique, intimate take on electronic pop.

Her music career started out venting teen frustration in beginner indie band Mouse, but things soon picked up when she graduated to keys, vocals and guitar in underrated band Hawaii Five-O who were popular for their psychedelic surf sounds and country-tinged old school rock 'n' roll. The band soon split and Alpers spent time travelling around Asia, living in Shanghai, China, for some time before moving on to Auckland. There, she attended Auckland University and gained access to recording studios; it was then she began making her own music.

Nowadays Bachelorette is enjoying some solo performances with her pre-recorded self.

So, your new album is set to be released on May 16, not far off now. Are you excited?

Yeah, I am. It'll be a great feeling for me that people can finally hear it.

You're playing four live dates in the UK to support it. How do you feel about those?

I only toured the UK for the first time last year so I'm really looking forward to returning. The shows in London last year were a lot of fun.

Tell us a bit more about the album. Any new inspirational thoughts and ideas behind this one?

This album is different from previous ones in that I didn't go into it with a set concept. It was the first time that I didn't feel the need to place limitations on myself in terms of the subject matter or the style. That made it more interesting for me, just to see where it would end up. I travelled a lot while working on this album. I worked on it for a couple of months in the UK, for a month in Libya, in Berlin, rural Virginia and Brooklyn. I think the constant movement and change would've had an influence on the material. A lot of it was just me trying to get to grips with the touring lifestyle, and all the thoughts and desires that sprung from that.

You released your seven-track EP The End of Things in 2005, how have you and your music progressed since then?

It's probably easier for someone from the outside to recognise the progression of the music than it is for me. From a personal perspective, it's been great to be able to gradually play the music to more audiences around the world. It's a crazy lifestyle and quite a commitment, all the constant movement, but I feel lucky to be experiencing it. As for writing and recording new material, it hasn't got easier over time. Each album has presented new and unexpected challenges, which I guess have continued to make it interesting for me.

Do you feel your style of song writing has changed for this album and if so, what brought this on?

I haven't consciously changed it, but I'm sure it has changed, just from having a few albums behind me and from my process evolving in that time. I generally write or construct the songs on the computer as I record them. I changed the software I used for recording, editing and mixing on this album, from Adobe Audition to Logic, so that definitely would've influenced changes in the song writing process, though nothing that I could really put my finger on.

As a student of computer-based composition, do you feel this has had an increased effect on your music producing?

I did my composition degree purely so that I could have access to computers and recording equipment, because I had ideas that I wanted to get down and I knew that I needed to use computers to be able do it: just multi-tracking my voice and being able to sing harmonies with myself, playing different instruments and so forth. I think I would've found it harder to be productive in the beginning if I hadn't had that space and time to concentrate on music at university.

If you hadn't have been so computer literate (we thank god that you are) how would this have affected your style?

I don't even think I'm very computer-literate, but I forced myself to be, because that was the only I way I could see of getting my ideas down. The only question would be whether computers didn't exist, in which case I would've probably tried being a composer or something, so I could write down my ideas and get other people to play them. That would be so hard to implement though, that I would probably have given up by now. I love the fact that computers have given me the opportunity to make my own music, but part of me also yearns for traditional collaboration with other musicians. Maybe I would've just found collaborators if it wasn't for computers, and I'd be playing synths.

You mix 60s psychedelia with pop, folk and lots and lots of vintage electronics - why is the vintage feel so important to you? You incorporate it a lot within your music.

I think it has to do with memories and associations, and what I've loved listening to growing up, and as an adult. I just try to use sounds that I like, that I have available, and that I think fit the material.

Your last releases have all been very well received; My Electric Family, especially. How does this make you feel?

For me, it's all about the process of making it and I don't let myself get too attached to the results once it's finished. It's satisfying though to know that other people might enjoy something that you've put a lot of your time and energy into. It can also be scary to expose yourself in that way though: to put your work, and yourself, up for criticism.

For My Electric Family you decided to expand Bachelorette, adding Craig Terris, Dino Karlis, Andrew Bain and others. What prompted this decision?

I think I was going through a weird relationship with music when I started making My Electric Family, which was why I enlisted the help of other musicians. I felt that I needed it to be less solitary in order to enjoy working on it, probably as an antidote to Isolation Loops, which was a completely solitary experience. While I was working on My Electric Family, I was living close to a town where I knew a lot of great musicians who had expressed interest in working with me. It seemed silly not to take them up on it, when I was struggling with working alone.

After this next release what's next for Bachelorette?

I'll be touring the new material for much of this year, and then Bachelorette will be taking a rest. I have ideas for other projects that I'd like to work on, musical and otherwise. I'm living in New York now and am excited at the idea of collaborating with other musicians while I'm here. Since finishing this new album, I feel like I've got the solitary-music-making of the Bachelorette project out of my system.

Bachelorettes' new self-titled album will be out on Drag City (US), Souterrain Transmissions (UK, Europe), Mistletone (Aus) and Particle Tracks (NZ) on May 17 2011.

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