Interview Yeti Lane: ‘I Always Imagine A New Album As A New Beginning’

Ben Pleng and Charlie B talk to Jasmine Phull about singing in English - not French.

Music doesn’t always to exist to make you smile, and thank God for that. Parisian experimental rock band Yeti Lane create music that may make you sad, but just don’t expect an apology. With the release of their sophomore album ‘The Echo Show’, the duo are heralding a new beginning - sans their founding member - and focusing on a more spacey-shoegaze approach. Frenchmen Ben Pleng and Charlie B talk to Jasmine Phull about singing in English - not French.

You’re quite obviously inspired by the past, namely Kraftwerk and Neu!, are there any artists from the present that impact ‘The Echo Show’?
Charlie: Of course. We are inspired by the past, from the 60s to the 90s, but we also listen to present music. ‘The Echo Show’ has been impacted by bands such as The Flaming Lips, Deerhunter, and a lot of other bands.
Ben: Neil Young is still making good music, I don’t know if he’s from the past but he really inspires me.

You’re of French descent why have you chosen to sing your lyrics in English? Was that an organic move?
C: The music we’re listening to and playing is not really popular in France. Singing in English is surprisingly the most natural option, even if it’s not our language. It allows us to play in Europe and North America. I’m not sure that we could have done the same with French lyrics. We’re sometimes discussing about doing some songs in French; it’s hard because it sounds really different and it’s not as musical as English, but people like Laetitia Sadier has done some great stuff with Stereolab…
B: We speak only two languages and if one day I write songs in French will English people still listen to us? I hope so… (Laughs)

It’s been two-three years since the self-titled ‘Yeti Lane’, and a lot of reviews are saying ‘The Echo Show’ seems somewhat of a new beginning? Was there an intention of taking a different direction with your second record?
C: The main reason of this “new beginning” is that we used to be a three-piece and then we’ve become a two-piece. We’ve had to find a new balance, a new way to compose and play together. And in the same time, that made us work more intensively with synthesisers and sound effects. The direction that we’ve taken for this album is different because of our new set-up, and because we’ve decided to reduce the field of influences and to focus on the spacy-shoegaze side of our music.
B: Personally, I always imagine a new album as a new beginning. Events at the moment you start to write new songs are always influencing the choices you make. We never stop imagining how our music could be; how it could be better.

There’s quiet a few interludes peppered throughout the 10-track. What was the idea behind that?
C: We didn’t want to have just an album constituted of songs following each other in a classic way. We wanted to add pauses, transitions, to consider the whole album as if we we’re working on a single song. We like when albums are constructed this way, like some of the Broadcast or Grandaddy releases for instance …
B: It’s important to us to create a general atmosphere for an album. We wanted our songs connected all together.

Can you name three things that you learnt from the first album experience that were applied to ‘The Echo Show’?
C: Don’t explore too many directions in the same album, and in the same song neither; feel free to take the time needed to get it spacier and louder …

Detroit and Chicago house pioneers include Derrick May, DJ Sneak and Carl Craig. How does the scene of today compare to that of the 90s? Can the present ever compete with the past?
C: I think that present can compete, but it will take time to know what will stay or not …
B: The scene of today takes sometimes its inspiration from the 90s. I think it’s interesting to try to do things differently by using the codes you learn in the music that has been made previously.

Your music is quite atmospheric. How important is its transition from the album to the live stage. Do you adopt a different sound?
C: Our live sound is probably rougher than the album’s sound but we’re trying to keep it as close as possible. We’ve composed and recorded these tracks with our live set-up, of course we’ve spent a lot of time in the studio adding some little things, and mixing it, but the roots of the songs are live.
B: We’re really attached to the sound, and we approach the live stage with the same interest as the studio. The main difference is that we can’t take with us all the stuff we’ve used during the recording.

Who would you cite as the most influential person in your musical career? Was there someone from your youth that was instrumental in the beginning of your musical journey?
C: It’s probably not the most obvious from listening to our records, but I would say Robert Wyatt for me and Neil Young for Ben.

How inspirational were conversations around the dinner table during your childhood?
C: My dad was a school teacher but he’d always promote shows on the side (and he still does). When I was a kid he was in touch with bands from the Canterbury Scene, and a lot of experimental bands and jazz bands so he always encouraged me to play music, to listen to a lot of stuff.
B: I come from a politically engaged family. I don’t know in what way it has influenced me but it might be a lot…

How important do you think the live show is? Do you think listeners can gain a totally different perspective than when simply listening to you via their speakers?
C: It’s really important. It’s rougher and it’s probably surprising. We’re shoegazers on stage, we’re not jumping or running or these kind of things. We’re two guys playing together, in the middle of a mess of drums, old synthesizers, electronics and guitars.
B: Maybe listeners can find something different by seeing us on stage and I hope it will be positive. Our live sound isn’t completely different but for sure it’s not exactly the same compared to the record.

How often are your shows based on improvisation and feeling the crowd?
C: The shows are not really based on improvisation; we play the songs as they have been written but we can take more freedom with the instrumental parts. Depending on the mood and the audience reaction, we can shorten or stretch out some intros, or solos, or transitions …

Who are you currently listening to?
C: Last week’s tour playlist in the van included : Ride, Lower Dens, Cristian Vogel, Stereolab, Here We Go Magic, Neil Young, Delia Gonzales and Gavin Russom, Crocodiles, Bardo Pond, The Flaming Lips, Emeralds, Black Bananas …

Yeti Lane’s new album ‘The Echo Show’ is out now.

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