Ahead of tonight's gig at the Notting Hill Arts Club
, we spoke to Catherine Pockson, the otherworldly babe of Alpines. We love Alpines. Cat has the kind of voice that lingers in your mind long after you've stopped listening. Bob has the ability to take the from the most unexpected of places and bring it all together into a catchy song. They call it night pop and we can see where it comes from. Their music does make you feel like the nighttime; however not in the whole you might need pepper spray kinda way, rather it says we're more honest and candid in the dark. It's a bit ethereal, it's sensitive and delicate. With Cat's pale face and long flowing her, and Bob's big innocent blue eyes, they even look the part. Basically, Alpines touches you while making you want to dance. It's the kind of pop music you don't have to label as a guilty pleasure which, for all we care, is the best kind there is. We've been waiting for their album since The Guardian
wrote how amazing they are (and how they're the likeliest to make the Gallagher brothers puke). With the album now less than a month away, the lovely Cat talked us through music making a la Alpines and her borderline tyrannical approach to aesthetics. You and Bob met quite randomly at a wedding. How did Alpines happen from there?
We did meet at a wedding! He was playing bass in his old band and I thought he has so much talent and charisma on stage. I told him to come to to my solo show in London the next night and it progressed from there. I wanted to work with a producer who understood where I was coming from and he got my style and work ethic straight away. We have listened to early demos of the first songs we ever made really recently and they are so nice to listen to and you can easily forget how far you have come! How does an Alpines song come to be?
9 times out of 10 I will sit at my piano/electric organ and write the whole track with full structure, singer-songwriter style. We then go through the song with Bob. We will go to his studio and work on building up the song together with all his crazy production ideas. More often than not Bob will start with a beat that he feels suits the vibe I am going for and gradually develop the sounds from there. That said, our latest single ‘No Other Lover’ started from Bob’s beats and production and I wrote the lyrics, piano parts and vocals around it. For our debut album (coming out on May 26th) we wanted to really refine the sounds and make sure there was a coherent flow throughout the record. We have worked with MNEK on a couple of tracks, he added his vocals and production, but other than that, we have produced the whole album. Your background of fashion and art history rings through in the band’s super strong visual aesthetic. Where do you draw your visual inspiration from?
I draw inspiration from all over the place! I have to keep a Pinterest
account and blog
to try and remind myself every now again of all the amazing things I love. I am mostly really inspired by fashion photographers, particularly as I help direct and style all the video shoots and press shoot that we do. At the moment I love everyone from Helmut Newton to Juergen Teller to Herb Ritts to Mert and Marcus. When I was studying art history I used to get the best results whenever I wrote about photographers, William Egglestone was always a big inspiration. As far as styling goes for gigs/shoots, how much are you in charge?
Well, Bob calls me a control freak and the latest photographer for our press shoots (Cyrus Mahboubian) calls me boot camp Catherine! Which pretty much explains that I know what I want when it comes to shoots! But I love collaborating, I would never ever tell a photographer or stylist how to do their job, I get so much joy talking to creatives on set about my ideas and working on making something beautiful. My vision is always very clear and I have learnt that prepping in advance and getting the look right is so important. Bands today have to be more than just music makers to get by, they have to try and be a brand as well and define themselves and stand out in an ever increasing music market. When I was 18 I was convinced that I was going to be a fashion designer, maybe one day this dream will become a reality. Who knows! Victoria Beckham is an inspiration in that sense. I think her designs are so beautiful. Whether she puts pen to paper or not doesn’t really worry me, she fronts an incredibly strong brand and I give her full credit for that. You have an album coming out which is super exciting! What’s the next step?
There is so much to do! Also I have just moved house so it’s pretty insane at the moment. As we are running the label side of the release there is a heavy work load with making sure the album gets the best promo it can. But this has been such an incredible process to be part of. Bob and I work so hard and as a result we have managed to stay on top of everything. I have organised the UK tour with our assistant manager, which will take place once the album is out. We also have an incredible PR, radio and publishing team around us who have been amazing. We all work together on pushing things forward and hopefully we’ll get the album out to a wider audience than we already have! If you weren't doing music, what would your ideal career be like?
It would definitely be working in a creative industry of some sort. But honestly, music is everything to me. It is the only thing that really makes total sense, despite the lows and the highs that come with it. I worked in fashion journalism for a while and have worked in various jobs but nothing makes sense like writing music for myself and others. I am so lucky to be able to call this my job, I never take that for granted. But in a way that makes me feel like I have so much to lose sometimes! And finally, what’s your favourite ever album?
Oh goodness, there are so many important albums. Can I name two? Firstly, ‘Miseducation of Lauryn Hill’ because I listened to this over and over again in my teens. Learnt every word and danced to every song. It defines a certain time in my life when every emotion feels so powerful and your dreams are bigger than your reality. The other album has to be Burial’s ‘Untrue’ which I know is such an obvious one to say, but Bob and I listened to this endlessly when we started the band and it defined that very important chapter of my life. The name of our label is ‘Untrue Records’ in homage to our love of his album. Also, Burial’s collaboration with Jamie Woon must be one of our most listened to songs, the ‘Wayfaring Stranger’. Oasis is out May 26th, you can pre-order here or digitally here.
More music available for a listen on Soundcloud