MEB Writer/Photographer M.J. Rawls recently caught up with vocalist/guitarist Andre Braun of Rococode, a two-piece indie electro pop band from Vancouver, British Columbia. They discuss their latest album, Don’t Worry, It’ll Be Dark Soon, including the production style and more.
MEB: With Don’t Worry, It’ll Be Dark Soon, you both worked with producers Ted Gowans and Caleb Shreve. Caleb you previously mentioned worked with Phantogram and Ted with Tegan and Sara. How did everybody come together to find common ground?
We didn’t have the chance to talk about this much before we started recording, actually. We just kind of moved into a cabin together and dove in. We already knew that we’d have lots of common musical ground with Ted, because we’d worked with him a few different contexts. He played guitar with us at the very beginning of our band and then co-produced an EP later on. Ted and Caleb are good friends, so we just had to trust that we’d find enough common musical ground. I think the influence we rallied around the most on this record was the production style of Danger Mouse. That was kind of the go to reference. And… of course you don’t want to have too much common ground when you’re making a record. You have to disagree on some things. Caleb comes from a hip-hop background, so that was a very different element for us and we really let him push those kind of ideas through.
The new album makes less of guitars and is a little bit more electronic this go around. Was that a conscious decision when you were in the process of making it?
That sort of happened in the writing process. We both grew up playing the piano and it’s the instrument on which we’re both most comfortable. As we started writing the album we bought a couple of new synths and started exploring. These sonic textures started to inspire a lot of the songs and the guitar based writing took a back seat. When it came down to the recording process, it was more out of necessity. We didn’t have a drummer and so we programmed everything at first. We added layers of real drums later, but a lot of the programmed stuff stayed prevalent.
With listening to Rococode songs, yourself and Laura both handle the lead vocals. The cool element is that there is a unique distinctness to both. How do you both bounce ideas off each other and separate the vocal parts?
In this batch of songs, there are distinctive LAURA songs and ANDREW songs. At the beginning we tried to incorporate a lot more of both of us singing at the same time and more back and forth, but that was sort of discouraged in the production process. It was sounding pretty “duet-y” which is definitely not what we were after. For the most part, the songs that Laura sings are songs that she started writing and the songs that Andrew sings are the songs he started writing. There are a few exceptions to this, but you’re not getting any spoilers.
There was mention that there were some personal battles that went into this record. Can you elaborate on how that influenced the songs?
“Panic Attack” is probably the least personal of all. It was more of a story song about a toxic situation – whether it be love, drugs, or whatever – that you just can’t stay away from. We’ve all been in that frame of mind on some level. A lot of the others are a lot more personal. “Baddest Sun” is kind of the most overtly personal in its depiction of a particularly dark time. It’s a bit of a convoluted perspective and wasn’t the easiest song to put out into the world, but it has become one of our favourites to sing and play.
The fact that this album is more stripped down then your first full length, was that indicative on the secluded area you recorded from or how you were feeling with personal issues?
It was a change in taste, more than anything. The first time around, we wanted everything and the people we were working were also into the ‘more’ approach. We went in wanting to keep it simpler and our producers talked us out of many many ‘it needs more’ moments. In the end, we wanted the songs to shine through and not bury them under layers and layers of sound.
Speaking of “Panic Attack”, there’s a video out involving some Spaghetti and some intimate moments. Who initially thought of that concept and was it fun to do?
The whole idea was that we’d be put in situations where we could capture some raw and honest emotions without having to act. We actually shot a whole bunch of other scenarios for the video like playing chess, drinking whiskey shot for shot, arm wrestling, and then eventually spaghetti make-out. In the end, the spaghetti got the whole spotlight because it kind of made us the most vulnerable, even though it was pretty ridiculous. The guys who directed it – Ryan Flowers and Robert Tornroos – just pieced it together and it really worked and told the story of the song. It was surprisingly hard not to crack up taking enormous mouthfuls of spaghetti, but maybe that was because we’d just gone shot for shot…
I know the band is planning to tour more in the U.S. for this upcoming year, but it’s a little tougher on overseas acts given certain financial aspects. Will this be more of a shorter tour run hitting bigger cities?
We’re maybe extra excited for some of the places we’ve never played before like Minneapolis, Kansas City, Philadelphia. New York is always a highlight and it will be great to hit all the familiar stops in Canada because we know every curve in the endless highway. We’d definitely like to tour in the Southern US at some point and pretty much everywhere.
Watch the video for “Panic Attack below”. You can also pick up Rococode’s latest album and check out their upcoming tour dates in the U.S. over on their website.