20 Questions: Alpine

A Is For Alpine

This Melbourne six-piece electro-pop dream team makes the best sunshine-fueled blend of hook-candy you’ll hear this side of Tegan & Sara or the Knife, and they’re definitely on the move. Last month Alpine was featured in Time‘s online “Band to Watch” column, and A Is For Alpine already won iTunes‘ Australian Alternative Album of the Year honors. Their album being chock full of hit material, it’s hard to focus in on just one track worthy of repeated spins, but the two-part “Lovers” stands out as the best “sing it out loud” track since Tegan and Sara’s “Walking With A Ghost”, while “Gasoline”, the band’s lead single, definitely gives Best Coast a run for their money.

Let’s just say it clearly — if you haven’t heard the band, there’s no better time than now to dive into A Is For Alpine and learn what the rest of the world’s already talking about. But first, dueling singers Lou James and Phoebe Baker sat down with PopMatters for a round of 20 Questions. So maybe you should read this first so you’ll know them at eHarmony-esque levels before you listen, at which point you’ll be primed to spread the word. For as they sing on “In The Wild”: “North, south, east, west, take me there!” Wherever you wind up, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more interesting pop act.

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1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?

Phoebe: I’ll be totally, utterly, embarrassingly honest with you. I cannot believe I’m going to release this into the utter-sphere, but the latest movie that made me cry was Eat Pray Love. It was just the other night, tucked in bed on a cold night. I was in the mood for travel, Julia Roberts and cheap inspiration. I love cheesy, somewhat or very terrible movies sometimes. They hit the right clichéd spot. I think I cried because it reminded me of a part of my childhood, when I lived in Vanuatu. Or maybe it made me cry because it was the first time I realised how beautiful Javier Bardem is. Phew. Ok, now don’t tell anyone.

2. The fictional character most like you?

Lou: Jen Barber from the English Comedy The IT Crowd. Everytime I watch this show I get freaked out by how similar we are. Jen gets a job as head of the IT department without having any IT knowledge and no-one seems to notice! Like Jenn I also hang out with nerdy boys and struggle with technology. I hope that’s equally endearing as it is comical.

3. The greatest album, ever?

Lou: Kate Bush — The Hounds of Love. WOW! I adore everything about Kate Bush. She paved the way for so many strong female musicians. This album is beautiful, imaginative, eccentric, joyous, fearless and powerful. She continues to inspire the honesty in my style of writing and the importance of expression through performance.

4. Star Trek or Star Wars?

Lou: Star Wars! When I was young most people mistook me for a boy because I had a big head and my hair hadn’t really started growing. For some reason I was made to dress up as Yoda when I was two years old. I have photo evidence at home. I wore a green raincoat with the hood up and i’m holding a stick. I looked pretty cool!

5. Your ideal brain food?

Phoebe: Improvisation. Thinking about improvisation. Pretending I’m Ella Fitzgerald or Peggy Lee or Nina Simone or me in a sequinned gown on an Art Deco tiny stage in a small bar and its all flurries of dance and cigar smoke and sweat and uplifting and dark and who knows what it means. I feel jazz in my fingers and my toes, it’s tense and relieving. One of my favourite things is getting whisked away by improvisation, it’s a meditation to me. I remember once improvising and getting lost, forgetting to breath properly and my hand started cramping up. It’s gotta be good. It feels brain nourishing.

7. You want to be remembered for …?

Phoebe: Coloured hair. Picking my nose inappropriately. Hopefully being kind and open and all those good things. Making an underwater birthday cake. Dancing all the way to town and back. Being an absolute fool. Doing nothing. Doing nothing with you and you and you. Orchestrating the biggest ball the world is yet to see, top hats and gowns.

8. Of those who’ve come before, the most inspirational are?

Phoebe: Everyone. Everything. But most recently, Bruce Springsteen. I never realised that he is actually The Boss. My gosh! Such an inspirational performer.

9. The creative masterpiece you wish bore your signature?

Phoebe: The Loewy House by Albert Frey. Because then it could be mine and I could host Party’s like the Party.

10. Your hidden talents . . .?

Phoebe: Probably the ease with which I can draw incredibly freaky looking people. I sometimes scare myself with these oddballs. I think it’s because I’m not very good at drawing expression so the things I do draw are a bit absurd looking.

11. The best piece of advice you actually followed?

Lou: The best piece of advice that was given to me is that life is impermanent. I used to suffer from anxiety which I think came from over-thinking about things that I had no control over. A friend told me to listen to Buddha talks and it has become my source of counseling. These days I really try to live in the present in order to stay connected to everything around me.

12. The best thing you ever bought, stole, or borrowed?

Phoebe: I ‘ll do all three. Bought: Chocolate. Always is and always will be. Haha. Heavens above! Been a sweet tooth since I was wee. Or maybe Cripple Crow by Devendra Banhart. I bought it just off reading the review and it was prefect. Borrowed: Pyjamas and my friend Eloise’s house. Slumberous joy. Stole: Sweets from my Aunty and Uncle’s secret lolly jar. They were asking for it. This is probably the only thing I’ve really stolen. Wild.

13. You feel best in Armani or Levis or . . .?

Phoebe: EWWWW! Definitely none of those listed! Something about brands I really dislike. I feel best in clothing from thrift shops because they have character and a strange smell. I adopt a new piece of clothing and give it a loving home.

14. Your dinner guest at the Ritz would be?

Phoebe: Grace Jones. It would be the best of times and we would dress very glam and sup till dawn and she would teach me lots of atrociously good things. Oo I can’t wait. When shall I N/A at work? Haha.

15. Time travel: where, when and why?

Lou: If I could time travel, I’d want to travel back to 1989 and celebrate the dismantelling of the Berlin Wall. It would be incredible to witness people tasting freedom for the first time and for the families and friends to be finally reunited after years of seperation.

16. Stress management: hit man, spa vacation or Prozac?

Phoebe: Spa Vacation? YES PLEASE! I’m picturing somewhere in a jungle with wild animals to talk to, I’d sleep in a tree house with a gigantic bed and in the mornings on my balcony I’d meditate and drink tea. Sounds blissful right?

17. Essential to life: coffee, vodka, cigarettes, chocolate, or . . .?

Lou: People are essential to life because they help you to learn, laugh and cry. After i’ve met someone who’s made an impact on me, it suddenly becomes unfathomable that there was a time when they weren’t in my life. So I guess in the end, everything else like the whiskey and the chocolate are just an added bonus.

18. Environ of choice: city or country, and where on the map?

Lou: Right now, it’s all about the city! Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the country but I just can’t stay away from the crowds, the buzz, the cafes, the bars, the museums, it’s architecture, it’s art galleries and music venues – it’s my concrete jungle! If I could choose one city in the world to live it would be Rio de Janeiro! Can’t really complain about a city in a tropical climate surrounded by mountains and beaches and is no stranger to carnivals! WIN WIN!

19. What do you want to say to the leader of your country?

Lou: Legalize same-sex marriage!

20. Last but certainly not least, what are you working on, now?

Lou: I’m working on finally getting my driving license, looking into another course to study and hoping to get plenty of rest before a month long American adventure!