Merchants of Air
exploring the edges of the musical universe
Seated on the steps of the Paradox venue two band members of Alice In The Cities are enjoying a Duvel. After introducing ourselves and expressing our appreciation of their performance, we ask them if they're willing to answer some questions. Things quickly transformed into a pleasant conversation about music, Berlin, Einsturzende Neubauten and many more.
Alice In The Cities is part of the touring entourage of Aidan Baker and thus affect Incubate. The band, we learn, was founded by Romain (guitar) and Jeremie (drums) in 2012. In august 2014 Diego (organ and bass) joined in. The Frenchman, Belgian and Italian reside in Berlin and seize the many musical opportunities that exist in that city: jamming together with all types of musicians, genres are unimportant, an enormous electronic scene and a lot of venues to perform in. They all play in a few different bands as well.
Central in the beautiful music of Alice In The Cities - a name which refers to the German road movie Alice in den Städten (1974) - is dynamics. They don't mean to sound like post rock; they're rather inspired by surf, jazz, and soundtracks (especially French ones which contain lots of gypsy jazz), which is why they sound clean and ethereal. The term 'Cinematic Post Rock' is given by listeners.
Asked about a few artists who influenced their music, they mention names like Nino Rota and Angelo Badalamenti. Jeremie also loves Middle Eastern music, he has about 80 GB of that on his phone. On their tour they set their phones and mp3 players to play at random. Every three songs another phone was plugged in. Whenever Jeremies phone was plugged, the Middle Eastern music started to play. Jeremie claims this was a coincidence.
As far a songwriting is concerned, Romain usually creates the concept of a new song and afterwards the band works it out together. They stay away from overkill and distortion as far as they can, unlike some of the popular post rock bands. Instead they work with tiny changes in guitar play or drums without disturbing the flow.
At first they feared they would be playing in front of nobody but the sound crew because they played in the same time spot as This Will Destroy You. But gradually people came in and stayed to enjoy the music.
We started drifting off, compairing Olafur Arnalds with Sigur Ros. Diego talked about Einsturzende Neubeuten and their nightly trips, seeking for trash to make instruments from. We completely forgot we were actually interviewing them for this webzine but I don't think anyone minded. This was a very nice conversation.
Text: Eline & Serge
Photo: Vera Cerutti