I was caught off guard and very pleasantly surprised back in December when the Stars in Coma man himself, André, asked if I'd like to premiere a song from his new album here at Ooberus Oblivious! This is the first Premiere/interview I've done here and I'm extremely excited, especially because this is a very special and wonderful album.
Here's what André has to say about the album:
A lot of stuff was going on in my life during the writing process of Every Evening, the Sunset Crooks its Thumb Across the River. In the midst of the tropical Swedish summer of 2018, my wife and I decided to take a break after a nine-year relationship. Simultaneously, we were busy planning a move to Portugal, so things weren’t exactly stable in our lives.
However, the creative process surrounding this album was relatively easy as the project served as a safe haven from my otherwise tumultuous life at the time. That’s often the tradeoff you’re doing when you’re facing hardships in your life: your personal issues might be weighing you down, but it always comes with an immense charge of creative energy, at least for me. The songs were written fast and chronological as they happened in my life, from the middle of July to October 2018.
Eventually, my wife and I reached some common ground and decided to stick together. Given the turn of events, the album starts off pretty grim but eventually ends up in a more positive and redeeming place. The record, which was recorded in Malmö, Sweden, and Lisbon, Portugal, in a short period of time, is very personal, but the overall theme could universally serve as a document for when a person's life turns upside down for a period of time.
Musically, I didn’t even think of artistic inspirations this time, I just let the songs come to me and used whatever piano, guitar, organ or string sounds I found beautiful and moving at the time of recording. I guess the end result became some sort of modern take on 70's chamber pop. My new adapted town of Lisbon also served as a major source of inspiration in terms of being someplace new, providing me with a new perspective on life in the end.-----------------------------------------------------------------------
After listening to the album for a few weeks, I had a few questions for André:
The album title, "Every Evening, Sunset Crooks its Thumb Across the River", tell us more about that.
The title was inspired by this poem from Corsino Fortes called "Emigrant". When I moved to Lisbon, Portugal, in the fall of 2018, I read a lot of Portuguese poets, especially Fernando Pessoa, who is very famous here. And Fortes is from Cap Verde, which used to be a Portuguese colony. I really like his imagery and the meter is often a bit weird, a bit chopped up. The title also mixed well with the artwork.
The artwork was made by Simona Accattatis, an artist from Italy who resides in Lisbon. She has done a lot of street artwork in the city, and one day I just found this piece of robot art on a wall while walking around in one of the old neighborhoods. I instantly visualized this picture of two robots looking over the Tagus river in Lisbon. So I drew this sketch/doodle of my visualization and contacted Simona, who was up for doing the artwork. She actually came really close to the image in my head so I was really happy with the final outcome.
You can hear the progression of emotions from start to finish. Right in the middle of the album, "Portela 1540" is a heart-wrenching instrumental minute of sadness. You haven't had many instrumentals in the past. What's the story behind this one?
The song actually started off as a regular pop song, but I wasn't happy with it in the context of the album flow. The first four songs were recorded while I was still living in Sweden and the rest was made after our move to Lisbon, so I wanted something to represent the arrival to our new country. I didn't wanna write a new song cause I had this idea that the tracklist should follow the order in which I wrote the songs, so I just decided to take some parts of the original idea and pitch them down. It worked very well as this new ambient piece dividing the album in two parts.
It's true that not many instrumentals have made their way on past Stars in Coma albums, but last year I actually made this soundtrack for a audiobook/podcast series by Swedish comedian and author K Svensson, which was almost completely instrumental. It's a fun way to compose if you can frame it for the proper project.
"Stability" is my favorite song on the album, and the lyrics really resonate. "I need to find a new way to whatever works / I need to find a new way to love you again...I need to love, to love myself again". Those lines can really be used in so many facets of our lives and there is such a great universality about them. You mentioned this in your press release, the sort of universal theme that came out in the end. Was that ever your intention, or did it just reveal itself through the writing/recording?
No, that was never my initial intention, even though those lines probably represent the universal theme the best. I just wanted to cheer myself up and document my personal struggle. In a way it's almost like reading from a diary describing this two or three months of my life. And just as I find comfort listening to the most confessional songs by of Montreal or John Lennon, maybe someone could find comfort in this album as well.
The funny thing is even though I've always been prolific I've never before written such a coherent release this fast before. Last summer, I had basically decided I was done with Stars in Coma, I wanted to do something else, but obviously these turn of events pushed me into creating this album. It sort of ignited my creativity in a new way.
Near the album's end you give us "For the Oblique Minds", an 8-plus minute epic. You've had plenty of epic pop songs in the past and they're great: "Irregular Frequencies", "Nullified Wall", "Helpless". This length is a rarity in the indie pop world. What attracts you to them?
Since I was a kid listening to Iron Maiden I have always been intrigued by lengthy songs with different parts. It's such a challenging but also rewarding way to compose if you can get it right. It's fun to create your own little "Bohemian Rhapsody". I wrote and recorded the album very fast, from the end of July to the middle of October 2018. From the get go I knew I wanted an epic piece towards the end that summed up the album, but I never planned for it to be over 8 plus minutes, it was just that the different sections of the song wrote itself in a way. It's almost four songs in one, which might be off-putting to some, but I really like it.
Has your wife heard the album? What are her thoughts?
Yeah she has, but it took me a long time to present it to her, cause obviously I was nervous about her reaction. I think she was nervous about her reaction too. She said it was a very emotional experience, but also understands it's art. It's about her, or about us questioning our relationship, so there's no way of denying that, but at the same time it's just some music that I made. A lot of confessional breakup albums have been written before, I'm not the first. But she has also written some diaries/poems about our breakup, so we've definitely used the technique in dealing with our situation.
This is your 11th album as Stars in Coma! Are you already thinking of album number 12?
Yes I do! And I have a very clear picture of how it will sound and the general theme. It will also be personal, but from a completely different angle. Of course that could change, I only have like 2-3 songs so far, but right now I know where I wanna go with it.
Last question, and this is just to serve my own fantastical notions. I've oft dreamt of striking it rich and being able to put on my own Pop Festival here in LA. I sadly didn't get to see you when you played at NYC Popfest a few years ago. I've fantasized long and hard about who would be on my Popfest bills (Stars in Coma would of course would be invited!).
Who would be your dream line-up? Reunions allowed!
It would be an honor to play at your dreamed-up popfest! Well, of course it would be cool play alongside some of my favorite artists from LA such as Weyes Blood or Ariel Pink. My favorite band of Montreal would also be invited of course. It would also be cool if you could convince Kate Bush to play her debut album The Kick Inside in full, but that would probably be harder than to like resurrect Kurt Cobain and reunite Nirvana. :)
Thank you so much for allowing us to premiere your song. I love the album and can't wait for the world to hear it!
And now, here is the opening track from "Every Everning, Sunset Crooks its Thumb Across the River"... "Destroying the Love":
"Every Everning, Sunset Crooks its Thumb Across the River" will be released on March 29th!