Sunday, October 26, 2008
Brave Radar, Sydney/Montreal/Halifax
Current band rollcall?
Conor Prendergast, Tessa Smith, Gabriel Ng.
Brave Radar has been around since...
Conor: Let's say '06.
Let's play Six Degrees of Brave Radar. What are some interesting musical links you could come up with?
Conor: The drummer from the Easybeats, we used to use his cymbals apparently in my high school band.
First song ever written?
Conor: When I was 11 or 12, I wrote the first song I can remember, heavily inspired by Nirvana's Something in the way.
Tessa: The first one I can remember is a song called Winter that I wrote to the tune of a traditional Canadian canoeing song. It was for my first band, Julia and the Executors, at age 8. The first song I wrote with instruments was Something, the first track on Brave Radar's first album together, Distracting Strangers.
Music making for you began when...
Tessa: My dad taught me blues standards on the piano.
Conor: The first instrument I loved was the drums, I made a drumkit out of cardboard boxes in my living room.
Most unusual sound/instrument you've used in your music?
Conor: Me and my old roommate had a room full of blown up red helium balloons, we popped them in a frenzy and recorded it. It's at the end of a song Teton Ocean. Sounds like popcorn.
Strangest gig you've ever played?
Conor: Probably at South by Southwest at a clothing store. It was just really awkward - "who are these people? why are we here again?"
Do you pin up images when recording to help inspire your songs? (Or put up other things in the studio for the same effect?)
Conor: Heaps of slogans: you can win; be the future; always strive; beat your destiny.
Tessa: For our new EP Ultramarine, we pinned up life-sized portraits of our parents with speech bubbles saying things like, "Is this really what you're doing with your life?" and "Didn't I love you enough?". You have to push yourself to create art.
Unlikeliest thing to influence your music?
Conor: Probably work. Work is good for lyrics and names and things.
Tessa: I listen to a lot of pop from every era, but modern pop is maybe an unexpected influence. Some of the taboo cheesy stuff is definitely in my blood.
Most unconventional topic you've covered in your lyrics?
Tessa: I tend to write from the experience of feelings. That's totally fresh, right? haha... Conor wrote a few songs from the point of view of different animals.
Conor: Probably not the most unconventional but i'm happy with the lyrics to They mean no harm. It's about bluebottles.
If you had to offer any of your lyrics as love advice (or life advice), you would offer...
Conor: That's hard, I dont think any of them would work... Tessa?
Tessa: Yours are too abstract! Um, maybe the lyrics to Lava and Magma, though they're not really advice. They're about making the decision to be with somebody, trusting that the hidden part of them is there. I like that.
Most useful lyrics you've heard in a song?
Conor: Hmm. I've got a bad memory for lyrics... Brenden Orange has great lyrics... Tessa?
Tessa: I'm sort of averse to the idea of musicians as mass therapists... I would hate to think of singing as some kind of therapy session for the world. That's really depressing. It's worse in certain genres ...
Good lyrics snap me back to feeling things strongly, without saying like, "it's time to feel again, gurl". And that's useful, though it's very personal. Yeah, Brenden Orange and the guys that he listens to, Mount Eerie... I like Julie Doiron for sure.
Do you think the country/city/town you live in affects your music in any way?
Conor: Not really, I thought it might be the case. I think I'm more affected by music I'm listening to or movies or art.
Tessa: Only in the sense that I met Conor here in Montreal... We're imports anyway, like most people around us. On the East Coast, where I'm from originally, music is a given – everybody plays something. So choosing to "be a musician" is a serious endeavour; you take up this character and are perceived a certain way. Maybe that's true everywhere, or maybe it's just my weird paranoia. But I feel like living in Montreal – where rent is cheap and multitaskers abound – we're allowed to have a few different projects without any conflicts.
You would love to record with...
Tessa: A recording engineer. It might be good for us.
Conor: Maybe a five piece session rock band, me and Tessa could write the songs and sing but not play anything.
Tessa: Oh man, that'd be great. Like a Brill building kinda thing.
Favourite person you have performed with/recorded with...
Conor: We did a small tour with Dirty Beaches, Alex is one of the good ones.
Outside of Brave Radar, you spend your time...
Conor: Working in a kitchen, drawing...
Tessa: We run a label called Fixture Records. I also have a part-time job and I'm trying to finish my degree.
Next for you is...
Conor: A new album is right around the corner, then we're hoping to tour the states, and come to Australia in the new year.
Tessa: We've started writing stuff for a double EP that's one disc only drums, and one disc just bass. That's really fun.
If record stores had to come up with a new genre name to file your music under, it would be called...
Conor: Car-hole popular jangle.
Five things you currently love
Conor: The Ohsees, Ariel Pink and Scott Walker. They're all so good I've been stuck on them all recently. They're winning.
Conor: Comics by Yuichi Yokoyama.
Tessa: I love Duke Magazine, Worn Fashion Journal, The Believer, and lots of blogs.
Conor: A great record store and comic shop are both just around the corner. When I have any money, which is rare, there are no better places to spend it.
Conor: Posters by local artists Seripop, Leila Majeri and Tyler Rauman are always great and inspiring.
Conor: Keen for Sukiyaki Western Django and Appaloosa and the Good, Bad and Weird one. Westerns!
Brave Radar write songs that swivel between sundazed pop and eclectic, shambolic charm. Tracks like Something and However have an instant brightening effect, like a million screen pixels lighting up around you. They've just released a new EP, Ultramarine, and you can catch up on their news on their MySpace.