Any discernible differences while you were doing this world tour? I’m sure when you started playing shows in Canada, it felt pretty comfortable. Once you started going into other countries were you nervous about how people received your music?
Austin: I think that the reception and the outlook towards music is totally different based on the territories and stuff. We just got back from a press trip in Europe where we did like 30-some odd interviews in different cities and seeing people's different approach to their questions and the way that they listen to music and the way that they think about music based on territories is really interesting. It kind of offered a little bit of insight into people's reactions in those territories and stuff.
Raphaelle: Germany's approach is very philosophical. Like all the interviewers wanted to know the philosophy behind our approach to making art and it was super cool. That was definitely my favorite place to do interviews. They're really curious about the art itself and not so us as individuals and the gossip and things like that. We had a lot of really deep conversations.
Austin: Yeah, people in Amsterdam were always like...
Raphaelle: 'Tell us the gossip!'
Austin: Yeah and 'Tell us about the departure of Katie.' And we told them and then they were like, 'I feel like you're hiding so much. Tell me everything." We thought that was crazy. So generally speaking, we were pretty lucky. People were pretty receptive everywhere. I mean, definitely there were certain territories where it wasn't flying because of lack of representation...
Raphaelle: Nashville. Nashville didn't take.
What happened in Nashville?
Austin: We played a show for four people.
Raphaelle: It happens.
At Pigeons & Planes we like to introduce people to music they haven't heard before, so we did a feature today about comparing newer bands to more established artists. We compared you to Animal Collective, do you think that is apt?
Austin: Animal Collective was probably the most important band for us when we first started making music together, and I think that really opened our eyes to heavy experimentation and opened our eyes to what's possible from a sonic perspective and song-writing perspective. We really borrowed a lot from their group dynamic when we first started. We absolutely didn't want to have a lead songwriter. We wanted to have a totally collective, collaborative thing. Their record Feels was my gateway drug into experimental music.
I hear it a lot this time around, the way that you use the voice as an electronic instrument, not just limiting it to vocals and that sort of thing. You hear that a lot in their music as well.
Austin: It's funny because we built them up to be so much in our heads, and then like, at a certain point, we all kind of moved on a little bit and sort of left them on this pedestal in the history of our lives. We don't listen to that band casually anymore, it's like, if we're going to listen to it, then we're going to listen to it, you know? But it used to be all I listened to was Animal Collective records. People used to always ask me, 'What's your favorite record?' Hands down, it was Feels by Animal Collective. But now I've been listening to a lot more different music. I'm finding now that I don't have an idol in music, or a band that's like, 'If I could create a band, it'd be that.' I'm borrowing a lot more elements from a lot more different things. And I'm not sure if that's just from growing up and being in a different period of your life where you're not dependent on having emotional, musical idols. You can sort of grow up on your own and walk your own path a little bit more.
I think that there's this window for music—like the kind that you guys are making—that Animal Collective partially helped shove open for our age of people. Why do you think that this kind of music is catching on and why you want to make it?
Austin: It's just honest. It's so honest. It's so not involved with industry bullshit or trying to be a hit band or trying to get huge. That band is art in its purest form. Their growth has been so steady and really natural. Their ability to say, "Look, we just made one of the most important records of 2009." Or whenever they put out Merriweather. That was one of the most important records of that year. And they followed it up with something so different, and so not pop-oriented and it was crazy because they were poised to be this massive success. They reached such a huge amount of success with that record that they could've gone totally mainstream and they probably could've crossed over. But I think they were just like...
Raphaelle: 'We don't want to make that.'
Austin: 'What do we want to make? We're at this breaking point. What do we want to make?' And they created something that I think is significantly less accessible than Merriweather. I think that's a reflection of just being really honest and really pure with what you're hearing in your head, not being like, "People would like this." Or, "This is catchy." Or, "Oh man, we need this or we need that." No, it's just being honest and open about what the song needs and going off that. I think the honesty is attractive. People are drawn to that.
Raphaelle: I think that something that I take away from Animal Collective, is to just do exactly what you want to do and take it far as you want to go with it. And I think that's something that they definitely did. They're good role models.
How do you bring that into the studio?
Raphaelle: Just doing exactly what you want to do. Bjork is also another example of that for me. Just being totally herself, totally an individual and being really confident with that.
Austin: I think we had a period of time where we could just experiment and there wasn't that much pressure to write a record or anything. I think definitely on Flourish//Perish way more so than on Native Speaker. There was more pressure than there was the first time around because we had already put out something. There were expectations. But we tried to separate ourselves from that, and just write a bunch of songs, you know? I think the experimentation was cool because it gave us a chance to explore different directions and different avenues for different songs. The song "Amends" from our new record has seen so many different face-lifts. It's taken on so many different forms. And it was only in the couple weeks before we went into the studio to do the final mixing that we were like, "Oh! That's what this song is all about." We found out the root. We found out what it needed to be. And yeah, giving songs the time and the space they need to develop into what they need to be, and experimenting.
It feels like hip-hop is, in a similar way to electronic music, permeating other music a lot more. What are your thoughts on that?
Raphaelle: I feel like it always has. I don't know if there's an uprising to the same degree as electronic music. I feel like there's always been a lot of hip-hop influence since J.Lo and Mariah Carey and the late '90s and stuff.
I guess I feel like it has crossed more over into indie.
Raphaelle: Into indie, yeah. Definitely with Kendrick Lamar. Purity Ring, that's a great example. I love them, and he's [Corin Roddick] just a little hip-hop producer, almost.
Austin: Yeah, he's great. He's crazy. I mean he's like the most level-headed person. He's not actually crazy. So not crazy. But he just knows what he wants. He put out this amazing record with his band and then he was like, "Now I know how to make rap beats." And now he's just producing for people and stuff.
Raphaelle: Taylor, the other day, was like, "For the first time ever I had a connection with a hip-hop song on that Kendrick Lamar record."
Oh, which one?
Taylor: "Sing About Me, I'm Dying of Thirst."
Austin: I really like that record [good kid, m.A.A.d city] a lot. I'm really intrigued by the production side of hip-hop things, like the drum sounds are amazing on some stuff. Dr. Dre is so cool, and his style of production is amazing to me. There's definitely some hip-hop things that I'm like, 'Oh, this is really good!' But it's only been recently that I've been getting into it. And I think Corin [Roddick] has played a big influence in that being like, 'You should listen to this.'
Raphaelle: I think hip-hop still seems really tied up in lifestyle, and I feel like it would almost be inappropriate for me to cross over into that. Like it would seem really ingenuine or something. I feel like electronic music, if you're comparing the two, has had more of a crossover into indie music because electronic purists are kind of backing off a bit. They're allowing indie artists like Grimes and Purity Ring play at Berghain which is the super credible dance club in Berlin that they would've never gotten five years ago or whatever. And I feel like there isn't that same kind of forgiveness or openness with hip-hop yet. I don't know because I'm not really there—it's just so tied up in lifestyle.