Interview Savoir Adore: ‘We Wanted It To Feel Wild’

The Brooklyn duo talk Martyn Young through storytelling, fantasy pop, and Kickstarter funding their new record.

There is something ever so slightly magical about the innate, intrinsic understanding between two musicians that make up a duo. It has been ever thus, a large proportion of popular music’s history has been founded on partnerships, whether it is Bacharach and David, Lennon and McCartney or Morrissey and Marr. Savoir Adore are a duo from Brooklyn that share a similar kind of almost alchemical relationship.

The two component characters that make up the band, Paul Hammer and Deidre Munro, share a similar musical passion with all those great duos and their characters complement each other beautifully, giving Savoir Adore an extremely compelling and vibrant sound. Like many musical partnerships their union was brought together mainly through a desire to break out of a mundane routine and do something more creatively rewarding, as Deidre explains. “We both went to New York University and we met in a music club where we were both doing our own things. We collaborated together for the first time out of frustration at what we had been doing up to that point, which had been singer songwriter, acoustic guitar solo stuff. We got together and we made a game of collaborating.”

This theme of challenging each other creatively was established very early in Savoir Adore’s career, in the mid 00s. Deidre adds: “We said to ourselves; let’s just do everything that we don’t normally do and nothing that we normally do. We created a little mini record in one weekend when we went up to Paul’s parent’s house.”

From those early beginnings, the band flourished, as Deidre and Paul’s creative relationship evolved. The bands 2009 debut album ’In The Wooded Forest’ was a record full of deft, perfectly realised indie pop with an experimental edge. The duo’s second album, ’Our Nature’, is a record that builds and expands on those themes. It is the sound of a band making a real creative breakthrough. “We’re constantly trying to change things up and write in different ways. That’s what keeps things fresh,” says Deidre, “The last thing we want to accomplish with this band is to write the same thing over and over again. We never want to repeat the same song twice.”

Savoir Adore describe their sound as ‘Fantasy Pop’. While this may sound like a slightly facile construct, Paul stresses that it is a term that fits perfectly with the band’s philosophy. “The first EP we wrote was like a fairytale. We dove into and used that world as a metaphor for other themes. It stuck, because most of the time we are writing about supernatural or fantastical ideas that illuminate ideas in the real world.” Not only is it a term that fits lyrically, it also makes sense musically. “We try to be adventurous in our environments and soundscapes,” Paul continues, “that’s really the best way to describe it because it’s pop music. We love pop song writing but we also love experimenting with weird sounds, weird textures and different kinds of arrangements. I think we can use that term to describe that weird brand of pop music.”

The key song on ‘Our Nature’ is previous single ‘Dreamers.’ It is Savoir Adore’s greatest moment yet. An impossibly lovely whimsical slice of blissful pop. As Paul explains, it is a key track in introducing the theme and concept of the record. “’Dreamers’ introduces the record and encourages the listener to give in to the experience that they are about to have.”

The primary theme of the album is an elaborate story about a chaotic romance. The whole album is a fantastical and wonderfully immersive experience. ‘Loveliest Creature’ features a romance between a monster and a girl, while next single ‘Regalia describes the moment when these two main characters enter a particle world where they transcend each other. The themes may seem slightly strange but as Paul explains: “We wanted it to feel wild and a little bit more abstract.” Deidre laughs as she describes their thinking, aware of how grandiose the statement sounds, “We just found this was a much more magical way of writing where you can use metaphor and story to try to join the legacy of storytellers throughout humankind.”

While speaking to Savoir Adore you get a strong sense of their deep love and enthusiasm for music. They speak with a wide-eyed infectious charm and are both imbued with a wonderful ebullience. I ask them about living in Brooklyn and wonder whether it is slightly overwhelming being part of such a vibrant scene. Deidre conceded that it can be a problem standing out or, as she puts it; “if you are making the coolest music in Wisconsin, people from the surrounding area will come to see you.” Paul adds that a lot of the bands favourite artists and friends are also based in Brooklyn. “A handful of our favourite bands live in the neighbourhood. The fact that we can walk down the street and collaborate with someone we love is such an amazing thing about living here. To have that ability is inspiring.”

The aforementioned neighbours include French Horn Rebellion, of which Deidre’s husband David is a member. It is the electronic, dancier side of these groups that have influenced ‘Our Nature’, which has a far richer, more adventurous sonic palette. And it was conscious decision to adopt a slightly more electronic sound. “We have played with so many dance bands over the last three years that it definitely influenced us a lot,” says Paul, “we wanted to inject that into the stuff we were working on, more of the synthetic elements, a dance feel.”

One of the key differences between ’Our Nature’ and the debut is the way it will be released and the structure behind it. The band parted ways with Cantora Records at the end of the promotional cycle for the debut, and have created everything on ‘Our Nature’ entirely on their own. Without a record company, they had to look for a way to release it; which is where the crowd sourcing Kickstarter project came in. Amanda Palmer has recently been criticised for her exploitation of the scheme, however, for Savoir Adore it has been a very successful way at forging a bond between the band and their fans. But fundamentally, it has allowed them to release the record in a professional manner. “We’ve known about Kickstarter for a couple of years,” offers Paul, “we basically funded all the touring and recording on our own, which has obviously been a challenge as it’s expensive to do that and promote it. We realised in August that we have a distribution deal in the States, but not a record deal, so no one is really putting up money for us. We knew that we wanted to release the music with a proper team together and we wanted to tour. The only way to do it would be to raise a bit of money. We looked at Kickstarter as an interesting way of doing a pre-sale for the record as well as offering some more limited edition prizes.”

The idea of Kickstarter works both ways; at least it does for Savoir Adore. Paul goes on to outline the links between the band and the fans. “The Kickstarter was a way for us to give our fans and other people who have helped us in the past an opportunity to fund the release. It’s exciting, as they become a joint co-operative record label for us for the next two months. It’s a good method for bands who need that extra push.”

As the music industry inexorably changes fan based models like these may become even more important. Paul believes that this can only be a good thing, particularly for smaller bands. “I think that ideas are going to manifest in different ways where people are looking at their fans, the idea of crowd funding where the fan base keeps you going.” He also sees social media as playing a key role in this new model. “If you have a fanbase and you can organise them through Facebook and Twitter then why not give them the ability to help with the process as they are a bigger part than they ever where before.”

I ask them if they find it more gratifying to achieve success on their own merits, independent from any traditional record label structure. Paul answers by enthusing about the creative freedom that it gives them. “I think the more directly connected to the final project you are the more gratifying it is when it’s out. I think it is extremely gratifying knowing that we have complete control over the final product and to see it released and to reach people.”

On the cusp of the release of their second album Savoir Adore are a band that seems entirely at ease with where they are and where they are going. The musical union between Paul Hammer and Deidre Munro is one that is indelibly strong. ‘Our Nature’ offers a perfect example of a group making a significant step forward.

Savoir Adore’s new album ‘Our Nature’ will be released on 22nd October via Popular Recordings.

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