Chairlift Interview

Chairlift, if you didn’t know are a NYC based dream-pop band most famous for having their single “Bruises” in an ad for a certain MP3 player. Jesse caught up with front woman Caroline to find out more about Chairlift’s beef with Kanye West, what it’s like working with MGMT and the perils of inter-band relationships.

Pedestrian: Hey Caroline it’s Jesse from Pedestrian what’s going on?

Caroline: Not much, your connection is a little crunchy.

Can you hear me better now?

Yeah a little bit.

Cool, lets get into it. I read that you spent 9 months recording the album and then you re-recorded it in 2 days or was that just Bruises?

We spent nine months working on the record, but it wasn’t like we were in the studio for nine months. I was at school full time and working 4 jobs on the side, so we really didn’t get to go into the studio more than like 2 days a week.

Woahhh what were the 4 jobs?

They were a bunch of like art related jobs… I was as an artist assistant. Was working as assistant to the chair of the art at my school, doing taxes for an artist and I was also working for a teaching assistant at my school.

Groovy. So what was it like recording the album?

It was the first one that it was recorded properly, we had written these songs over the course of a couple of years, and been playing most of them live for a while. We worked in astudio in Chelsea, Manhattan. We were working with producer Craig Meyers, who actually does a lot of work with sound tracking for different TV shows. So in the beautiful studio that holds a lot of natural light, he’s really funny. We love working with him because we can communicate on a visual level. Because he’s used to working with TV sounds; hearing the environment. We were like okay we want this to sound cold, we want this to sound nocturnal, we want this to sound outdoors and indoors and he knew exactly how to move that.

We did do quite a bit of the recording outside the studio itself. The track ‘We don’t give a damn’ from the album was recorded in my mum’s tea room, ‘bruises’ was recorded in Patrick’s basement, and a lot of the tracks, not the whole songs of course but the tracks, were recorded in our practice space or apartment and then the song was completed in Chelsea, in the recording studio. So the album was made in a bunch of places.

At the moment you’re touring with Sebastian Tellier is that correct?

No but we’re just about to… At the moment we’re actually back in NY for shooting the video for ‘Bruises.’ After that we play a few shows with Sebastian Tellier leaving on tour with Peter, Bjorn and John.

Have you met either of them before?

Never! But I am a big fan of both groups. But have never met them personally.

So so so, you and Aaron are dating is this correct?


Were you?

We were, but am no longer.

Is that something I should keep to myself?

I wouldn’t mention that we were dating, but we’re definitely not together.

Well that just ruins my next question… I was going to ask what it’s like being in a band with your boyfriend?

Yeah. Lets skip that question…

I was just asking because I’ve actually just started a band with my girlfriend and I was wondering what its going to be like and if it’s something you’d recommend?

It’s a bit tricky but on one hand yes because you’re constantly working on stuff. But on the other hand because once it becomes once it becomes a business and you have a domestic breakup, its like having a child together. Then you have to deal with each other through business.

That’s what I’m worried about. 6 months later we break up, its all gone and we’re locked into a contract. Myself and another guys in the office are have a massive crush on Brooklyn. Anything/Everything that comes out of there (fashion. music, artwise) is just something that we’re really into. However neither of us have actually been there. Can you describe what its like?

It’s really fun. Every time I come back from tour its just a lot more fun. Making it harder to then go back on tour. We have a group of friends that are all really creative. For example some are in fashion, some are in jewellery design, some are writers, some are homeless. Really vibrant scene of people inspiring each other and getting up to no good.

I feel all the opportunities that I have in hanging out with my friends are all creative. They’re not parties. When we have to make something, it’s more like ‘we’ll invite everyone and we’ll all make it together!’ The ideal social interaction in Brooklyn is that of a creative one.

Ilirjana from Apache Beat is dating the other guy in your band right?


Ohhh Aaron… Are you guys friends?

Yeah, I love Ili she’s awesome.

Cool cool. Obviously there are a lot of stylistic similarities in Brooklyn. Do you think this is a conscious thing? Or is it just because you guys are hanging around each other, or is it because you guys potentially have the same influences?

I think everyone loves pop music, but for the most its a generational thing, more so than a location thing. In NY we’re exposed to a tonne of different types of music, and we’re exposing each other to a different types of music. So I think the vein that runs through us all is that kind of eclecticism. We’re all into pulling from wildly different forces, finding it really fun. I think there is also an unashamed love of pop music whether that be Yeasayer… Boy Crisis. We’re all really into pop melodies no matter what genre it comes from.

So did you grow up in Colorado?

No, I lived there for a year and half. But I did go to school there. Everyone thinks we’re form Colorado, but I was born in Manhattan, Patrick is from Tennessee, and Aaron is from Colorado Springs. We all met when we went to school in Colorado. I was only there temporarily, as was Aaron. Patrick’s the only one who sat school there.

Yeah the internet sure thinks you’re from Colorado…Weird. What’s coming up for you guys?

Well we’re always churning new ideas, even in our van we all have or laptops out, or writing lyrical ideas in our notebooks. But right now it’s like the eye of the storm between records, because we’re just concentrating on the touring the live shows, the visual aspects, music videos, websites, and expanding the world that we created with out first record.

Turning it into a visual and social world, instead of just being a musical one, which is so much fun as we’re all multimedia artists who all love music videos and fashion and live performance so now we get to make it more of a visual thing.

On that point. When I was researching you guys a came across a few posts about the video for ‘Evident Utensil’ ie. In regards to the data moshing processing technique used in it. Kanye was saying that they had to release his video early (using the same technique) so that it didn’t seem like it was biting you guys. What was up with that?

Yeah, funny story the guy who directed our music video, Ray Tintory, who we met through MGMT. Ray had directed a bunch of videos for MGMT that I helped work on, that’s how I met Ray. He had this idea in his back pocket about this new way of data processing. That his producer Bob White was experimenting with. They were like ‘hey lets use it for the MGMT Time To Pretend video,’ but in the end they had a really full treatment for the video and decided not to use it because it was just going overboard, way too much. Then I talked to Ray, about doing a Chairlift video and he was like ‘Yeah perfect we’ll use data moshing on it!!!’

But Kanye’s team was also working on the MGMT video and while they thought they were going to do data moshing, Ray taught Kanye’s team in order to prepare them to do it on the MGMT video. So as soon as they learnt it they started working on a Kanye video. ‘They were like ha we’re going to use it first!’ It kind of became a race to put the flag on so to speak. You know; †who’s going to use it first.’

So who actually did use it first?

We did we put our video up about a week before. But the weird part is that we shot the video in July and the footage sat around untouched for months, and then when our team heard Kanye was using the technique we were like ‘No way it’s ours!’ So they cranked the video out and in about 2 weeks editing wise.

Is there any bad blood between you guys and Kanye’s team?

I don’t think people have actually reacted, but I did actually bump into Kanye at a fashion show, introduced myself to him and he was very friendly and then I told him who I was and I was like ‘ yeah we did the other data mosh video.’

He then took his sunglasses off, looked me up and down very slowly and then just turned around and walked away.

Noooo!!! What happened then did you say anything to him or was that it?

No his body guards enclosed around him and he was gone. It was a really funny moment because he was you know… He didn’t like us at all. I was kind hoping that he would find the humour in our teams competing for the video, but he was actually quite sensitive about it and got pissed.

What a dick! That’s pretty funny though.

Yeah I know right…D.I.C.K

Hahaha do you have a message for Kanye or does Chairlift as a band have a message for Kanye?

We love Kanye! Not caring if he hates us or not we love him!

Wooo I think that’s it Caroline! Thanks so much!

No probs Jesse it was fun!