"We wanted the album to be a sonic snapshot of the band..." - hmv.com talks to Savages
As Savages follow-up their much-acclaimed debut album Silence Yourself with new album Adore Life (it's out today and you can preview and purchase it on the right-hand side of the page), we sat down with bassist Ayse Hassan to find out all about how the album came together...
When did you start work on Adore Life?
"We started in mid-2014 writing in a studio space, then after about six months we felt that we needed to take the new songs to the stage and explore how we would play them live. So we decided to go to New York in January 2015 and do a series of nine shows in three venues, inviting our fans to observe us experimenting and finalising the songs, most of which ended up our second album Adore Life."
"Playing the songs live was an essential part of the writing process (as some parts were re-written). It was exhilarating playing the new songs live for the first time – there’s an excitement/fear you can’t get from writing and playing in a sterile studio environment."
How did you want this album to move on from Silence Yourself? Did you want to do things differently in the writing/recording?
"We toured the songs that appear on Silence Yourself for over a year before recording anything. By the time we were ready to record, we decided that we wanted the album to be a sonic snapshot of the band at that moment in time, trying to capture what we were doing live on stage on record, so we recorded the instruments together in a live room."
"The process for Adore Life was completely the opposite. After touring ‘Silence Yourself’, we spent a number of months writing together in a studio, then we realised that to finish the songs we’d need to play them live, so we did the January NYC tour. When it came to recording, we decided that we wanted to focus on each instrument separately, giving each of us time to experiment with finding the right sounds for the tracks. I spent my time running sounds through a tape machine and working on various other ideas I’d collected over the past year."
"We also experimented with additional instrumentation (such as a vibraphone which appears on ‘Adore’, and a Saz which appears on a track that isn’t on the record). When it came to mixing the record we chose electronic music producer and multi-instrumentalist Anders Trentemøller. This added a new dimension to the record and was an exciting choice for us. It was a pleasure to spend time with Anders and talk through his process."
What were you listening to during the making of the album?
"I was listening to a lot of Gazelle Twin, Ultravox, Arthur Russell, Jessy Lanza and Nine Inch Nails during this time."
You worked with Johnny Hostile once again, did you consider any other producers? And what does he give you as a producer?
"We’ve worked together on projects for many years now, so there is an understanding, which comes naturally from spending so much time working closely with someone you trust. Working with Johnny for the second time felt right for that moment. As there were things we wanted to do differently from Silence Yourself, it made sense to continue with Johnny as we had spent a lot of time discussing how we would move forward from the first album."
Which of the songs on the album took the most work to get right?
"Listening back to old rehearsals that we’ve recorded, ‘Adore’ and ‘Surrender’ took time to come together, taking on many forms. There’s potential for the songs on Adore Life to continue to evolve - that’s what I find most exciting with Savages, having the space to continually experiment with the songs we have. It keeps it interesting to have a sense of openness with the music. Playing live over the next few years will certainly bring about more evolutions to some of the tracks…"
What kind of album is this lyrically? Does it have a unifying theme?
"Love - and the spectrum of what love can be - in all its exultation, uncertainty and danger."
When did you decide on the title of Adore Life? Were there any other titles in contention?
"Finding a title that fits and represents the record and the band is always an interesting challenge, but for ‘Adore Life’ it seemed to come very quickly."
Tell us about the cover, why did you decide on that image for the album?
"The album has a lot of contrasts and contradictions and the title and the image represent the music and the themes. In many ways we feel it’s self-explanatory, as a fist is a powerful image that has been used in many ways over time. We provide the hands for the artwork which I feel links everything together."
What are your plans to take the album out live? Are you booked for many festivals?
"Yes, we plan to tour and play festivals – we’re looking forward to that. We have lots of ideas of what we want to bring to our shows. We always try and think of our shows as events, just as we have in the past, with dancers, picking our own support and really trying to keep everything as exciting as possible."
Savages' new album Adore Life is out now.