Interview: CHVRCHES: “Creating a community and supporting other musicians is really important”

The Scots found some downtime during their quest for world domination to help DIY celebrate our 50th issue.

From being Class of 2013 stars to headlining The Hydro in Glasgow; over the past few years, CHVRCHES have gone from strength to almighty strength. That’s not even taking into account their time spent on the road, their ever-growing fanbase on the other side of the Atlantic and the fact they set sail on the Parahoy! cruise alongside pop rock heavyweights Paramore just a month ago.

And somehow, in amongst their hectic schedules and executing their plan for world domination, the Scots found time to join in DIY’s 50th issue celebrations. Here, Lauren Mayberry and Iain Cook talk vocal exercises, creating a support network for their peers and taking a step back to see exactly what they’ve achieved over the past few years.

In 2011, they were: Writing together for the first time and making that vital decision to put a “v” in their name for Google’s sake.

Right now, they’re: Penning the best synth-pop songs in the world, and in spades. Second album ‘Every Open Eye’ upped the stakes tenfold, putting the Scottish trio on a trajectory few bands can touch.

What’s the best thing about being in CHVRCHES?

Lauren: Making music that means something to us, and then getting to play that music for other people who have connected with it too.

What have been your favourite / most surreal / most silly moments of the past few years?

Lauren: We’ve been so lucky to play so many different shows in so many amazing places but getting to play with bands we really admire - Depeche Mode, The National, Paramore - has been really special for us.

If you could relive any day from the past five years again, what would it be and why?

Lauren: There are certain shows or tours I wished I remembered a bit better or could go back and do again knowing that everything would be fine - especially our first American tour. We’ve worked really hard in the past few years but it’s nice to be able to take a step back and look at what we’ve done.

Which forgotten bands of the past would you like to see come back?

Lauren: I don’t think she’s been forgotten necessarily but I always silently pray for another Fiona Apple record.

If you could give yourself one piece of advice when you started out, what would it be?

Lauren: Do the vocal exercises. They sound crazy but they’ll save your life.

​”We’ve been so lucky to play so many different shows in so many amazing places but getting to play with bands we really admire - Depeche Mode, The National, Paramore - has been really special for us.”

— Lauren Mayberry, CHVRCHES

If you could pick one album you loved as a teenager, and make it compulsory listening for future teenagers, which one, and why?

Lauren: ‘Transatlanticism ‘by Death Cab For Cutie because it was the ultimate combination of melody, rhythm and emotion.
Iain: ‘Reign in Blood’ by Slayer. It still sounds vital, fast and heavy as fuck 30 years on.

What does a new band need in order to ‘make it’? Time and space? A stroke of luck?

Iain: So many factors. Hard work, unique sounding music, the right musical/cultural climate and yes, of course, a spot of luck.

Which three new acts are the most exciting, and why?

Lauren: Potty Mouth, Wet and Bully.
Iain: Hinds, Shura, Shamir

How do you think the Internet has revolutionised how bands get recognition?

Lauren: I think it has completely changed the way bands can get discovered and that can only be a good thing. Without sites like Soundcloud, our band would never have gotten label attention in the first place, and the internet has always been an important tool for us in terms of communicating with people who listen to our music.

How important do you think it is for bands to support one another?

Lauren: I think creating a community and supporting other musicians is really important, and much more appealing to us than the idea of competing with other bands. We are musicians but we are also music lovers and it is really inspiring to be near people you believe in too.

How does a new crop of headliners come through? Do bookers need to take more risks?

Iain: I’m not sure that bookers necessarily need to take more risks, I think the best thing to do as an artist is to concentrate on making your live show an experience that is unique and exciting.

How do we continue to nurture the music scene?

Iain: By spotlighting and encouraging new and exciting artists, not just jumping on musical trends that come and go as soon as they have arrived.

What’s your favourite music venue in the world and why?

Lauren: The Barrowlands in Glasgow is somewhere that will always be close to our hearts because of all the history it holds and how important a place it has always been for Scottish music.

Are streaming services the norm, or do you think we’ll be listening to music in a very different way in five years?

Lauren: Things have changed so much in the past five years and one can only imagine that curve will continue - and perhaps find a comfortable place to land - in the next five years.

Outside of bands, what’s the most exciting thing happening in music right now?

Lauren: As much as there are obvious issues, streaming culture and the internet has really democratised music and given a platform to people in a way that never existed before. The fact the money or label connections aren’t as necessary for putting out music than connects with people arguably makes the industry a lot more democratic.

Photos: Mike Massaro / DIY.

CHVRCHES will play Best Kept Secret (29th June - 2nd July), Bilbao BBK Live (7th - 9th July) and Latitude (14th - 17th July), where DIY is an official media partner. Tickets are on sale now. Visit diymag.com/presents for more information.

Taken from DIY’s 50th issue special, out now. Subscribe to DIY below.

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