In a candid interview, Savoir Adore dishes on how they make their dreamy music, going the crowd-funded route, and their guilty tv passions.
The masterminds behind the Savoir Adore outfit, Paul Hammer and Deidre Muro, have drawn inspiration from Jack White and his independence. Over the last couple of years, they have been putting their efforts into the creation and release of their second full-length album, Our Nature with the help of some crowd-sourced funding on Kickstarter. The label Neon Gold released the first Nature single "Dreamers" in 2011 and almost a year later the '"fantasy pop" album will finally see release.
As you read this, Savoir Adore's Kickstarter is over, and the band exceeded their $10,000 goal by $836. They also completed a tour of the US and a few stops in Canada during the month of October, and they have a December 8 gig at the Brooklyn Bowl Pending. According to CMJ, Our Nature " balances a sense of modernity with a steady grasp on timeless ideas of romance and guitar pop appeal." It is a dreamy album that draws inspiration from many different sources so you are bound to hear at least one song that grabs you.
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PH: I did a broadcast journalism summer program and [for] the only live interview I did, I put on my tape recorder I just bought, thinking 'awesome, great time' with this actor who was performing at a production there. I was like 'thank you so much' and when I was walking away, I realized I never put in a memory card. So it was just saying it was recording, but it never did. Then I had to set up another interview.
It can be pretty stressing to think about. If the battery dies on [my recording device] then I can try my phone. I can do video on my camera. Like what can I do…
PH: Just in case.
DM: That’s funny. That’s really funny.
PH: No more rants for me.
Well you’ll have more time for rants later. Have you been doing a lot of press for the new album Our Nature that [came out on] October 16th?
PH: It's just starting. It took us a little bit of time to really get the release plans in motion because we were completely independent about eight months ago. Now we have a record deal in England and we have a distribution deal here so we really took our time to set up the team. We haven’t done too many interviews or sessions yet. It’s really going to pick up over the next few weeks.
Congrats, what record label are you with?
PH: It's Red Eye Distribution here and it’s a record label called Popular in the UK. It's cool. It’s been really good so far in terms of the team.
For Our Nature, you have a Kickstarter going. You said you have a record label in the UK, but you only have a distribution deal here?
DM: We have a distribution deal which basically bypasses the step of having a label. It makes us more in control of the situation, like hiring our own PR, our own team. But in the UK, we do have a label. We're trying to go territory by territory which I feel is something a lot of independent artists do. Build your team in each country or region.
PH: From various experiences with friends [we've learned] that’s how it’s the most effective. People on the ground. If you have a team of people in the UK, someone who will be a champion for you on the radio side of things and then someone will get it into Rough Trade and a few stores, it makes a huge difference. There's no reason why our music would be known in Japan and Australia, but we know friends who have a small label that will work for them there. Then all of a sudden, they sell a couple thousands records there and they’ll get to go because a big festival will send them over.
It’s the same sort of angle for us now. In the US, we actually really don’t have anyone funding anything. Besides getting the record out, which was a huge step because it’s hard to get records into stores, even though it's not the most important thing, the placement of things like getting marketing on different websites or getting iTunes' 'Single of the Week', that’s what distribution company can help do. But besides that, all the cost of music videos, of tour support…
DM: …are all on our shoulders.
PH: So the Kickstarter thing just made sense.
Effectively you are supplanting the record label side with your endeavor.
DM: Yeah, we tried to make that clear in the campaign. This is what the money is going to be used for.
I mixed up the record label and distribution responsibilities in my head.
PH: The lines are blurred now too.
DM: The lines are very blurry.
PH: A lot of record labels they start a label thinking "oh well, we're just going to put the record into the store," thinking that means, we are a record label. But it should be so much more than that. It should be a creative team; it should be a business team. It ranges because there are no rules anymore.
DM: Some distribution companies even call it 'label services'. So it is very gray.
Do you feel the Kickstarter is going well?
PH and DM (simultaneously): Yes!
PH: We got halfway into the first week which is very exciting. Now it's going to be like a struggle. We are at like $5,000 after seven days.
I saw that there is about 18 days left as of today or something like that.
PH: Yeah it’s a good chunk of time left.
Good luck with that.
DM: Thank you, thank you.
So, I’ve heard your new album Our Nature. It is much more textured, much more layered. It's got more dreamy textures, more exploratory sounds, versus your previous album. What was the impetus for going in this direction?
PH: A lot of it just had to do with our own abilities. In many ways, In the Wooded Forest, our first EP was just us experimenting with production because [before] we had both been performing as solo artists with one instrument, or a small group. So, when we started recording together, we wanted to have fun with production elements because it's something we hadn't really done before, at least not individually. We learned a lot from that first process. Things tended to be a little bit more sparse or lo-fi sounding. You would hear drums, like more in a room. Whereas, [on] this new record, we were taking our time and sort of layering all the textures, really paying attention to certain details we weren't before. I think it almost naturally became a little bit more polished sounding.
Even like the dreamy stuff has to do with using more synths. I guess playing with a lot of electronic dance bands and stuff really influenced the different sounds we were getting into. So songs like "Dreamers" or "Regalia", which were really heavy on synth lines, synth bass, that kind of stuff, we really didn't do much of that four years ago. We play with French Horn Rebellion a lot, friends of ours, and Body Language, or a number of other bands in the New York music scene that [makes you think], "Oh, that's so great the way the synth just pulses through the entire chorus instead of strumming a guitar". I think it was a lot of that influence as well. It just naturally changed the sound of the new stuff.
How long has Our Nature been in gestation? It has been about four years since your last album, In the Wooded Forest.
PH: We were writing and recording In the Wooded Forest four years ago. So it was a while though. We really started writing "Dreamers" three years ago before In the Wooded Forest was even really 'out' out. It was definitely a much longer process too, which I think affected it, probably over two years.
PH: Yeah, In the Wooded Forest was released in September 2009. It's really three years now, which is crazy. Time flies.
That [spacing] helped build the amalgamation of sounds. There's '80s sounds. There's '90s sounds. In "Dreamers", the first song, your voice has a completely '80s retro sound.
PH: That was sort of an intentional push from Deidre to have a little bit more fun with vocals in terms of performance, like character performance. You're right. There definitely is more of a specific vibe to those vocals. It's a combination of the effects and also my delivery. You just ham it up a little bit more, give it a little more character. Naturally I do this [makes gyrating motion with arms extended and head bobbling and eyes rolled back] while I sing and then it just happens.
Concerning the album itself, are you both playing all the instruments or do you have people helping you?
DM: It's mostly just the two of us. We had our band members come in for, two songs?
PH: They ended up playing on "Dreamers", "Our Nature", and "Wild Davie".
DM: Three songs.
PH: The first record was all the two of us. This new record, these guys are our live band members who have been playing with us now [from anywhere between], two years to six months now. It's just so hard because we're freelancers so, while we can sort of come in and out of the studio whenever we get a chance, our drummer, Tim [McCoy], has a full-time job so we scheduled a couple of sessions and then..
[Paul's food arrives]. Yes. Yummy town. Train of thought, gone. Derailed by eggs.
Moving forward, we'll probably get them even more involved. A lot of it just had to do with the process of how we write. So many of the songs, like "Dreamers", we wrote in chunks every time we were in the studio. We change up how we write a lot. We tend not to ever sit together with one guitar in the room.
DM: Our writing is usually intertwined with recording.
PH: Only a couple songs we've ever played live [are ones] that the band had recorded. So it's a little bit of a different process than a lot of other people work in. By the time we actually bring our songs to the band like, 'Hey guys, let's incorporate this into our live set', it's usually fully recorded. At which point it's like, "Well i guess we don't really need to re-record elements." It's fun too 'cause any time you have different musicians perform, they're gonna add things that you wouldn't think about.
Even on "Dreamers" and "Our Nature", there's a very different character to it because we had Tim, our drummer, playing and Gary [Atturio], our bass player, playing on it. So it was a little bit of a different performance.
How many people will be in your touring band?
PH: There are five.
DM: Five of us total.
Though I keep listening to the album and hearing new things, two of my favorite tracks that stand out right now "Dreamers" and, "Anywhere You Go". What I found is that from the first track throughout, you guys have a dream pop sound, you can call it '"fantasy pop." Do you find that people compare you to bands like Beach House or Tennis or some of these other indie, shoegaze bands?
PH: You know, it ranges a lot.
DM: It ranges because our style ranges so much within our own sound. We will get things like that, but then we'll also get, you know, '80s bands too. It's very interesting because this project is not really about one cohesive sound; it's about us exploring things.
I did hear the '80s. I can't picture a specific band, but I get the '80s sound in my head. Then like a The Pretenders sort of vibe in "Wild Davie". I don't know if that's something you were listening to at the time or you just have that...
DM: I love Chrissie Hynde! [laughs]
PH: It's sort of just long term inspirations and influences that will seep in. A lot of times often we'll reference something like, "Let's do this sort keyboard line." It's sort of a combination of all those things. We also get the comparison to a lot of bands that have a boy and a girl singing just naturally because that's a specific sort of thing to hook onto. It really ranges song to song throughout.
Yeah, it may not be intentional, but it seems like there's a lot of those bands with just a boy and girl singing.
PH: They're all copying us.
How long have you been together as a group? Since 2007?
PH: Five years now.
DM: 2007, yeah.
Yeah, I think they're all copying you.
PH: I do too.
DM: Because it's never happened before [laughs].
PH: It must be us. It's true though. I think the variety is fun to play with. The same way that bands will have a variety of instruments, it's fun to have two vocalists with very different qualities. It's just another thing to work with.
I hear, Deidre, that you do some layering of your vocals. With that, will you do pedal looping in the live show?
DM: No, we don't do any pedal looping. But on the recordings, we definitely go for a lot of texture. Sometimes we'll layer our voices, singing the same thing, to give it this weird unisex, you-can't-tell-what's-happening sound. I like that. [laughs]
What are some boy-girl bands that you are fond of?
PH: Beach House is great.
PH: We're playing with them.
DM: Stars, who we're playing with.
DM: Yea. Saturday.
PH: Saturday. Yea.
How did the gig with the Stars come about? I heard of that.
PH: That's a funny story, actually, because it's through Neon Gold, the record label, actually. We've become really close with them through our manager. Then they released "Dreamers" as the first 7 inch. They ended up putting together this after-party show with Stars at Mercury Lounge. For a long time Derek [Davies of Neon Gold Records] always joked around, "It would be the best show ever if you guys played with Stars." So as soon as that happened he called our manager and was like, "I'm about to make your dreams come true." It's so funny.
When you’re working on your setlist for the tour, are there any songs you think will be a challenge to perform?
DM: Oh, yeah.
PH: We just did this like three days ago.
DM: Well, that’s the downside to recording as you write, not like writing as a full band. There are so many blurred lines about parts and what samples are we going to be able to have if no one’s playing or who’s gonna play what. It’s a challenge.
PH: It’s funny too because on one hand, we were purposely trying to record songs this time around thinking, "You know what? Let’s think about how we’re going to perform this as we write it. Let’s make five or six distinct parts." Then we’d get to the bridge and we’d be like,
"a stack of ten Deidres would be great right here." Then we’re like, "dammit! Messed up." It is a challenge on certain songs especially. But that’s why a lot of the times we’ll incorporate samples into our music as well. Even with the vocals, the good thing is, with five people in the band that can all sing, if there’s three of Deidre on a recording, we can get Alex [Foote] and Gary to sing those harmonies. They’ll still be there; it just won’t be her voice.
I’ve told you my favorite tracks, what would be your favorite tracks on the Our Nature?
DM: Mine has always been the track, "At the Same Time". That’s the quintessential track of what I was just talking about -- how we sing the entire song in unison. It just makes this weird blend. Even family members of ours have been like, 'Wait…"
PH: …whose voice is that?'
DM: 'Who's singing at this part?'
PH: The way the melody grows too, as it gets to different ranges, you’re like, “Oh, that’s totally Deidre singing,” and then it gets lower…
DM: And one of us will be able to push, and the other won’t as much. Also, just the song itself, I think that’s my favorite.
PH: That’s been one of my favorites as well. And then, I don’t know other than that.
DM: It’s a deep cut.
PH: It’s a deep cut.
DM: You know?
PH: It’s funny because often the song that was recorded or mixed last will be my favorite because, when you’re in that process, we’re sitting with them a lot. By the time we’re like done with that process, we’re like, "Okay, let’s step back and not listen to these for a few months. Then come back." Now it’s nice because I can actually listen to it and be like, "Oh, I like this." "Dreamers" is still one of my favorite songs that we’ve done, and I really like “At the Same Time” too.
You record and mix everything upstate. Are there any fun stories from the recording experience that you’d like to share?
PH: Well, halfway through, when we were at our height of momentum, the computer died…
DM: It happened about…
PH: three separate [times].
DM: There was just a problem with the computer.
PH: There was a big problem with the computer.
DM: We drive upstate, an hour and a half. We get there, we’d turn on the computer, we’d open whatever, ten minutes in…
DM: This iron screen comes down, grey screen, and 'kernel panic' is what it’s called. I found this phrase hilarious. I’m always thinking it’s like, 'Kernel panic says you can’t work!' Then we couldn’t do anything. We’d have to bring it, drive it down to TekServe.
PH: It was just the worst timing. We went to TekServe on three separate occasions.
DM: And brought it upstate…
PH: It happened again.
DM: It didn’t work, again.
PH: It was right after we played the Neon Gold Festival in Martha’s Vineyard. They were like, "we’re gonna release a single." We’re thinking, "this is awesome, we’ve got all of July kind of set aside to dig deep, finish the album." Then basically we lost three weeks because we couldn’t do anything.
That was not the "fun-est" story.
Yeah that wasn’t a fun story.
PH and DM (both): Noo.
PH: Other than that, it's pretty much always…
DM: It’s always funny.
PH: Just hanging out, playing basketball.
DM: There is a dog upstate, there's a pool. We work very hard, but we play hard too. There’s often an old fashioned, or a tall boy perhaps. Or a six pack.
PH: It’s always five o'clock somewhere.
DM: That became our motto, 'It’s always…' Don’t print that…
It’s on, it’s on. I warned you!
DM: [Laughs] The way this project started, what we fight so hard to maintain was that it's about fun and exploration and trying new things. We just do our best to try and stay as relaxed as possible in the studio and not let weird games and expectations alter the way we make music.
PH: The last thing we want is to be stressed out about any sort of…
DM: What we are creating.
PH: …goals. It's really about us exploring.
DM: And if people happen to like it, that's even better. That's awesome.
Going off topic, as I was just in that book shop across the road, are you guys reading anything interesting or have a favorite book?
PH: I started On the Road for the third time.
DM: Oh. Started for the third time, or you are reading it for the third time?
PH: I started it. I am really bad at finishing books.
DM: I knew it! I knew it! [Laughs]
PH: Let's see, I've gotten 65 pages in. It's a new record!
DM: [Astonished] Good for you.
PH: I really do like reading but then I also get distracted and I wanna go play guitar.
DM: Right now, I am reading a book that your sister gave me and David, for our one year anniversary. It's a collection of essays about the first year of marriage. So I'm reading that right now.
PH: Awesome, how is it?
DM: Eh, eh. It's hard because they are all of these very specific stories and I can't really relate to any of them. But a favorite book is a very hard question and I can't answer that.
That's fine, unless you have something to add about Our Nature, I am just going to go explore some lighter topics.
DM: Let's explore!
One of PopMatters' '20 Questions; is, Star Wars or Star Trek?
DM and PH: Star Wars!
DM: Unanimously Star Wars, I've never seen one episode of Star Trek. What about you?
I'm Star Wars also.
I've barely seen Star Trek other than the newest reboot.
PH: Yea, I saw the new one too.
DM: I didn't even see that.
PH: I liked it. It just doesn't compare to the magic of Star Wars. I love the Star Trek theme. It's really haunting and fun. I would start watching it and I was like dang. The movies are really weird too at times. Anyways, [emphatically] Wars.
PH: So now, I'll ask the question…
DM: …and you have to answer it, too.
PH: What's a TV show that you've recently watched that you've lost months of your life to?
DM: 30 Rock, for me.
I'm currently watching The Wire. I'm losing so much time to that.
PH: There are like ten shows, like Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Wire, Battlestar Galactica, 30 Rock…
DM: Mad Men. Mad Men happened to me.
PH: You just get into it. That's the best point of TV shows. They're completely designed to load the plots. Actually, what is funny about 30 Rock is there's no thread really.
DM: Well, there is loosely.
PH: But it's just so good.
DM: It's so good.
DM: And they're little nuggets. They're like 25 minutes long.
PH: I like the whole... you know, like Jack [Donaghy]'s wife, the reporter?
Kidnapped in Korea.
PH: That was one of the best long-term plotlines. It was so funny when she came back. Did you watch that episode?
DM: Yeah. Mm=hmm.
PH: Back to you.
Yeah, on the edges maybe. I like watching Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead. They're not as popular, maybe…
PH: We have friends that have…
DM: TV nights. Every week.
PH: My sister is like BIG into it.
What about Homeland?
PH: What's Homeland?
DM: I don't know what that is?
It's on Showtime, I think…
with Claire Danes. She's a CIA Agent.
DM: Claire Danes [in a fond voice].
Season one ended. It's good! You should program it. It starts again September 30th, I think. I heard of a party to go watch that episode.
PH: I love that. In bars and stuff, people will go and watch Breaking Bad at the Brooklyn Wineries.
There's Mad Men trivia parties.
PH: So funny. It's better than reality shows taking over. At least there's some cool, fun dramas and comedies. I feel like there was a period of time when any new show was only a reality show. I never really...
Now the thing is music shows and dance shows...
PH: It's unbelievable. So You Think You Can Dance. 'So You Think You Can Dance Better'?
DM: Oh no! [groaning]
PH: 'So Maybe You Can Dance'? No. How many American Idol like shows are there now? The best thing is, though, my dad will watch everything and anything. So I'll come upstate and I'll be like 'Do you want to watch a movie tonight?'. He's like, 'Well, I've got X-Factor Tivo'd…'. So I guess that's a no.
Is technology making our lives better?
PH: It’s a big time double-edged sword because...
DM: I'm so easily distracted by it all. I use it for very productive things, but the worst for me is the Gmail window. It's the worst. I probably, in total, waste like an hour or two just looking at my email.
PH: Reloading it.
PH: The other thing is phones. I actually get really bummed out. I love having an iPhone -- for a long time I was so envious and wanted one. And then I think it's incredibly useful. But it bums me out when I'm out at a bar and the conversation lulls down, and there's just a group of five people looking at their phones. You miss out on all these sort of [events]. You could possible meet someone if you weren't staring at your phone.
How about smart phones and camera phones at your shows? Trouble or a nuisance?
PH: It's actually really awesome.
DM: It's an incredible tool because people will tweet at us during our set and take photos.
PH: We've written back.
DM: We'll be like, 'Oh, we'll be at the merch table in twenty minutes'.
PH: Come say hello, yeah.
DM: Then they'll come and we'll meet them. For shows, it's...
PH: I love Instagram.
DM: It's pretty awesome. Instagram is fun.
PH: For social networking tools, especially for bands, it's awesome. The fact that a fan can post a photo of you guys on stage, and you can write back, 'Thanks so much. Come say hi'. That's awesome. For that purpose, it's pretty, it's pretty cool.
The Knocks, at the end of all their shows, will take a picture of the audience, and say, 'Thanks. Tag yourself on this photo'. Then on Facebook, there'll be like hundreds of people that [the band can] interact with because of that.
DM: That's cool. That's really cool.
An album that you are currently listening to regularly?
DM: Probably the record I have listened to most in the last year is Scott Walkers, Scott one. It's a little bit of, what's the word, off the radar? He was a '60s wall of sound contemporary but he had this crazy Frank Sinatra / Tom Jones hybrid voice on top of a wall of sound. It's really majestic.
PH: He was never at that level of Tom Jones and Frank Sinatra. He's a little bit of a cult figure.
DM: No, he was bigger in the UK than he ever was in the US. Beautiful.
PH: One of the best complete albums is Ryan Adam's Heartbreaker. I love that.
Any local Brooklyn or New York City bands that you have been seeing or listening to lately?
PH: St. Lucia.
DM: St. Lucia always. I was listening to someone recently… Oh, Slowdance! I really like that song "Boyfriend". It's very fun.
PH: They are a really new band right?
DM: I don't know. I think they have one seven inch.
PH: That song. That song is great.
PH: Frankie Rose is in Brooklyn, too, isn't she?
DM: I don't know.
PH: I think she is. The song "Night Swim" is awesome.
Saint Lucia, as far as local bands go, I listen to them so much. We toured with them in March to SXSW. That's also like the Neon Gold connection. They were at the like first official album signing for Neon Gold.
DM: I actually listen to that EP often.
PH: Me, too.
DM: I listen to it often.
Well, this is the last question I've got written down but if both want to ask me questions -- that was still part of our deal. What's the best advice you've been given, in life or as a band? You can take that however you want.
DM: I have to say a lot of the best words of wisdom I've ever gotten are from my now-husband. Especially when we were first starting. He's all about sticking to your guns, being your own person and, especially when it comes to art or music, just trying to be as much of you as you can. Like the most potent form of your personality that you can be. My life changed when I started doing that. That's my favorite.
PH: That is the best advice.
DM: That can be across your life, too because when you're as you as you possibly can be, you attract the people, through work, friends, relationships, that like that person.
PH: Also to just never feel stressed or anxious about who you are and what you want. Don't ever feel like you need to explain yourself. I remember the other best piece of advice, besides that really. Deidre's husband David is one of my closest friends too. Also just the idea of not stressing out so much -- relaxing about most things, because there's just no point. Life's too short to stress out about every little decision you make and I think that's something.
DM: We can naturally stress out a lot…
DM: …the both of us, but we just try to remember.
PH: We're pretty good at reminding each other the same thing. When it's like if we feel guilty for something. Relax and be yourself. I try to remind myself that any time I get worked up about something, because otherwise, what's the point? Make yourself happy and you will be.
So your mantra or your motto on tour will be, 'it's five o'clock somewhere'?
DM: It's 'always'.
It's always five o'clock somewhere.
DM: [Laughs] That's the Savoir Adore update to 'it's five o'clock somewhere'.
PH: We're so well behaved on tour. Incredibly. Another question that gets asked all the time is, 'what's your craziest road story?'. We're so well behaved. I don't know if it's like a general sort of misconception that bands go on the road and just party constantly.
DM: I don't think that's a misconception. I think a lot of bands do.
PH: I guess a lot of bands do, but I also think that a lot of professional bands do more and more of it. We'll take it easier on the road because you'll just wear yourself out. There's definitely bands that will just party and that's what they do on the road. There's a rock star life, I guess. But at the same time it's like you wear yourself out.
DM: We've created music where we need to be sort of at the top of our game in order to perform it. Luckily, everyone in our band is pretty much on the same page. I mean, we have a lot of fun and everyone's responsible. Someone is driving. Someone is always taking care and…
PH: …someone's dancing with the chairs and someone's taking care of that.
DM: Right. Gary
PH: It's five o'clock for someone. Gary.
DM: It's a nice balance. They're all amazing people.