Braids - Interviews - Soundblab


by Emily Bielby Rating: Release Date:

Emily Bielby went to the Great Escape Festival where she caught up with Raphaelle Standell-Preston from Braids.

This is your first time in Brighton. What's your first impression?

It is very quaint and lots of nice ivory, soft colours which I like. I really only drove for three minutes so… Lots of people have Preston which is my last name.

Are you looking forward to playing Great Escape?

Yeah, it's a little like the European version of South By South West. I feel it's a little bit more sophisticated, because South By South West has a lot of sea air, barbeques and drunks.

You're also playing Dot to Dot festival?

Yeah, I'm unfamiliar with the festival. I didn't know many of the bands playing, like, I think DOM is playing and were opening for them. I'm not familiar with the festival but I really like DOM's work. The band saw him in Montreal. I didn't go get to see him as I was recording but everybody else really enjoyed it. He's very talented, he does a lot of things. We like it when people, like, work on stage, like when they're really challenged and he is. He challenges himself a lot on stage.

How different is the atmosphere here in the UK compared to Canada?

Very different. I'm not sure I can really make a judgement just as of yet about it on the differences between. I noticed that the last two nights, people were a lot more attentive in the UK. Like, the first night in London you could hear a pin drop, it was ridiculous; a venue that size, we've never had that attentiveness. I mean, we've had it every once in a while, but not like that, especially playing to a group of people who have never really heard us whereas in other places we have had, like, followers who come to our shows.

It seems people here are a little bit more polite and attentive, and people here...So far we haven't run into anyone who really gives us much attitude.

Is this the first time you've played in the UK?

Yeah we've played in London. London, Manchester and now here.

How was Manchester?

Er, it was OK. Like, right before I got on stage, it was so weird. Like, while we were on stage, we were doing a mic check and this girl kept on making fun of me, right in the front row, saying, like, "Look at her composure, she's not showing any emotion" and she was like, "Look at her little booties" and we got off stage to go have a huddle and talk and she was like, "You're just going to go have a cigarette and smoke" and I looked at her like, "What are you doing", and I came back on stage and she was talking to her boyfriend and was like, "That's the girl that gave me the death stare, she gave me the death stare, can you believe it?" I gave you the death stare because you were being really annoying and making fun and being rude. And I was about to play and she started yakking at me and I was like, "Look its fine, lets be friends. Like, I'm happy your happy". She said OK and then just shut up. Rest of set stood right in front of me looking at me and I was like, "Eurgh, it's so weird".

After Great Escape you're off to Europe. You've never played it before so how are you feeling about that?

Very happy, very, very happy. Like, I guess it's the first time I'm in Europe and I like playing music. My music has brought me to places that I've wanted to come to for a very long time and also the fact that my boyfriend is touring with us means I get to share this experience with him. Like, last night I was talking to him about it and I said "This is the best thing. Like, the two things I love the most in this world are with me and I feel very happy".

Since the release of Set Pieces in 2008, do you think your music has progressed?

Oh yeah, a lot. At that time we didn't really know how to play our instruments, we didn't really have that chemistry yet together. We were still doing personal song-writing. I'd write a song, or Taylor would write a song or Katie would write a song.

Do you all write songs then?

Oh yeah, it's done collective, but before it was really divided. Like, I'd write all the lyrics but now it's a lot more together. But now, it's like Katie can write my guitar parts and I write her keyboard parts, and Austin can help with a vocal line or whatever.

I think that we've really learnt how to work together a lot more since Set Pieces. Also, like none of us knew much about effects and now effects play a huge part in our music. I love effects; it's not a cover up or anything. It's very much an aesthetic choice, very much a part of the song. The effects and the delay and the tremolo and reverb, and so I guess that coming across that medium of effects was a very big changing point for us. And we've just become better song writers, and I feel I know how to express myself a lot better than I did before. Whereas before I was, like... whatever was coming out was a real thing... now I guess I've learnt to harness it more, control it. I think we all do. Like, we've all learnt to trust in each other. And I know how to play guitar better. Like, I didn't really know how to sing. I still don't but I really didn't then. Whereas now I know how to, then I just tried to scream and I sounded like a dying lamb.

What about your album? Your album was released earlier this year? So, I mean, you've obviously started the year off quite well?

Er yeah. It's been a really big year. 2011 is a big year.

Did you get much response back from it?

A lot. Yeah, we got a lot.

Was it what you expected?

Erm, no, it was more than what we expected. Like, there're definitely always going to be counter opinions. There are, like, some people that will really rip the album apart. Like, that was nice and really helpful to have that. It was a bit like, "Oh great".

Well you're always going to get negative responses, aren't you?

Yeah, yeah. You learn to build up a thick skin. I remember people saying I should wash my mouth out with soap cause I, like, swore three times on the album - Like, "Oh my god".

There are other artists that swear a lot more though.

I know, I guess the prejudice against women plays a part here. Like, me playing about sex or swearing; it's a lot more taboo, you're judged a lot harder than if a man was to do that. My mother is a writer, and was a feminist back in her day, and she would always go on and on and say its a man's world and you have to work harder. Like, yeah, you kind of do have to fight a bit harder if you really want to say what's in your gut.

Was your relocation and move the reason you changed the band name?

No, that's when we started to really write collectively. With the name change, I think we just wrote the song 'Lemonade', our single. And afterwards we were like, the name means nothing; we're getting different, and we're getting older, we're writing together now.

So how did you come up with the name Braids?

Well, I asked everyone, "Well, what are the foundations of the band? What are we built upon? And, like, what is important to us as individuals and, like, together as a whole?" And we've all been friends for a long time, like me and Austin have been friends since, like, 12 and Katie and I have been friends since, like, 11, and Taylor and I since 11 so it was like friendship and also collective input really starting to do that. I guess it was like the intervening of the collective ideas and it being very strong. Like, braids are very strong. We didn't know at the time there's another band called Braids and we found out and were like, "Oops".

Once you've toured what have you got planned?

For summer time?


Well, we have Canadian festivals lined up. We're flying a lot, which is kind of fun, as we're used to driving cross country, and Canada is a terrible country to tour across as long drives. Canada is nice but it's long. If you're a touring band there's expensive hotels and expensive food, really weird weather, really long drives, and really small cities.

It must be nice to get about and go to loads of places and drive around?

I love touring Canada, it's just really harsh, but now were flying, flying to festivals and then we're coming back to Europe in July to do a load more festivals. I think we're doing Ireland and maybe Scotland.

Which one of the Europe tours are you most looking forward to?

Erm, I think going to Ireland in July, I've really wanted to go there for a long time.

Native Speaker is out now on Kanine Records.

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