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Monday, September 18, 2006
  Au Revoir Simone: Interview
please welcome the lovely ladies Annie, Heather, and Erika of Au Revoir Simone to Noise For Toaster. they were really wonderful and answered all of our nosy little questions about everything from their first crushes to ruminating on Nietzsche. we hope they had as much fun answering as we did reading.

by the way, pirate wins.

Noise for Toaster: Before we set in, let's get a little background on you all.

-Where are you from originally?

Annie: Brentwood, Long Island, New York
Heather: i'm a child of the tri-state area.
Erika: Boulder, Colorado

-What was your first tape?

A: Mariah Carey, self-titled
H: the monkeys
E: MC Hammer, Hammer time

-What is your favorite color?

A: None of the above
H: sunset
E: dusty pink

-What was your favorite childhood toy?

A: Aside from the encyclopedia and 99% complete LM Montomery library, those little plastic animals that came with rainbow brite and my little pony dolls.
H: a stuffed bunny with one eye and a carrot sewed onto his overalls named 'pat pat'
E: my doll house with a family of mini mice with outfits.

-What is your favorite accompaniment with peanut butter on a sandwich?

A: honey and wheat germ
H: i only eat peanut butter with green apples
E: banana and honey

-Pirate or Ninja?

A: Pirate!
H: hmmm. this one is hard. it really depends on the day, but today i'll also say pirate.
E: ninja

NfT: Now for the more band-focused questions.

I want to get this out of the way as soon as possible: Where does the bulk of your musical influence come from?

A: I find that impossible to answer.
H: broadly...pop culture.
E: beautiful songs.

NfT: What's your response to the press you've received? It looks like everyone seems to love you, including now MTV's YHIF.

A: I just love it. Can't help myself. I think it's really neat to be supported by nice people with open minds, I mean, we don't even have a record label in the US and here's MTV and all these great bands and bloggers and our sweet fans emailing us fanmail and telling their friends about us and it makes me feel so great to have outside validation of the music we make. Of course it's fun to make music for the sake of it on the bedroom floor, but spending the time to perfect song after song and playing it in practice for the umpteenth time are made worthwhile by the response of the press and ultimately, our fans. I still am completely amazing that the music that comes out of my brain can mean so much to some people. It's incredible.
H: it is incredible. i'm happy that the ones who love us are vocal about it, and the ones who don't adhere to the 'if you dont have anything nice to say...' rule.
E: its pretty overwhelming and it definately helps me stay motivated.

NfT: How was it to tour with We Are Scientists? We watched you off to the side as you danced throughout their whole set, and it all looked like quite a great time. Are they as funny in person as they come across on their site?

A: They are just about the sweetest and most wonderful boys in the music business and have made my belly hurt on multiple occassions due to their hijinks and wickedly funny sense of humor.
H: agreed...all good times.
E: i cant wait to tour with them again! (the UK in october)

NfT: What is your history with your craft? I mean, when did you start learning keyboards, etc?

A: I taught myself from the age of 8 on. No formal training on piano ever, but I did play almost every type of percussion in almost every type of band my high school offered, including, but not limited to, percussion ensemble (we played the little mermaid theme), jazz band (I was terrified of vibraphone solos), "select" band (what the heck that meant I don't know but I learned a lot about music there), marching band (sleep away and daily band camp every summer), plus all the competitions (I loved Bach interpreted for 4 mallets on marimba and even made it into all-county band as a result, though I embarrassed myself once in there because I couldn't read music too well) and music honor society. I guess one can describe me as a band nerd.
H: i too am self taught. the only music stuff i did in school was sing in the choir. i was an alto so most of the parts i had to sing were ugly low monotone backup parts for the dainty blonde sopranos who sang all the beautiful angelic melodies. alas, i'm still an alto.
E: i took piano lessons growing up & my dad is a musician & he taught me a lot. i have really long fingers so people always told me i should play piano.

NfT: Reviewers, particularly Pitchfork, keep mentioning a two-sided
album: the first light and airy, the second darker. Is this what you
were in fact looking to achieve?

A: We didn't mean to do that, but that's how it turned out, and our new one appears to be following a similar format. It's just one of the consequences of the many sides of Au Revoir Simone.
H: or evidence of shizophrenia? you decide.
E: perhaps we are referring to the comedy/tragedy mask? (the universal symbol for theatre) because i did used to have that on a charm bracelet, along with a sailboat, ballet slippers and a heart.

NfT: Grey's Anatomy is pretty much the only show I've kept up with in quite a while. I think it's the classiest production on TV in a long time (and I'm one of those people that would sport a "kill your TV" bumper sticker if I cared to spend the money on it). They also have some of the best use of popular and independent music that I've ever seen, including films. All of that said, how does it feel to have your single used on that show? Any more recognition from it? Calls or comments?

A: All my family proudly told everyone they knew that we were on it. That felt good to be part of something people can relate to.
H: i liked that our song was used while bloody hearts were removed and transplanted. that was special.
E: it was pretty awesome to hear our song on tv. heather had friends over and we all watched it together.

NfT: Who does the bulk of the lyric writing? Do you work towards anything in particular - an image, a quality, etc? Biggest inspirations there?

A: We split it for whomever brings in the song for the most part, though the other members are frequently enlisted as helpers to complete missing bits, which can be whole stanzas or just a few words. I'm inspired by a little phrase that pops into my head and grows and grows like magic into a song.
H: inspirations for lyrics come from everywhere...but i find that i most often write something that i want to say to someone in reality but can't out of fear or shyness... better to say it in a song and let people guess if its about them.
E: i like to write lyrics that are pretty open ended and can mean a lot of things because those are my favorite songs to listen to.

NfT: As for your separate personalities, are you looking to be categorized almost like the Spice girls (ignore the comparison, it's only to illustrate my point) where Heather is the dark one, Erika the tall one, etc? If not, do you mind the labeling?

A: Whatever people need to make sense of us is okay, I guess. We are kind of a weird group and I think people tend to stereotype each member of every band anyways, at least almost every band interview you read in magazines has a quick descriptive rundown of each member. I have no problem with this, since it shows people are thinking about us, which is good for our career. I just live in fear of being publicly labelled "the gawky one."
H: what people will think of us or how they might label us is so impossible to predict or control that there is almost no point in attempting to market ourselves a certain way...if people see as individuals thats fine, if they see us as these exaggerated caricatures of our real selves (ala the spice girls), that could be fine too...but i would hope that the image is as honest as possible.
E: i would rather be noticed for how i dress or something than my tallness, but whatever.

NfT: Now for the ones about you guys as actual people:

For my own personal interest: where do you SHOP ladies?

A: Every thrift shop and street sale and garage sale I can find. I am very picky but love the thrill of the hunt. I am also poor.
H: the smaller my wardrobe is the better. for me, fashion variety just complicates and confuses my morning, i'm much happier in a uniform that i know fits well and looks good. so each season i tend to buy a few choice items from reliable stores and wear them to death. i like APC alot and a store called Otte, in brooklyn.
E: i like picking things up when we tour because i always like having something that no one else has. i get stuff from neighborhood shops in williamsburg and i *love* ebay.

NfT: Along the same lines, you can imagine my shock as I was innocently sitting in a waiting room and perusing Lucky Magazine and happened upon Erika's unmistakable mug. Shock! I felt almost star-struck. How does that feel, for one member to be recognized in terms of your New York image? That's a very different kind of recognition, for an independent music artist to end up in such a mainstream magazine. (it was a lovely two pages, by the way)

A: That's cool!
H: it was very cool, and erika looked super cute.
E: yeah, i hope some new people found out about our band because of it.

NfT: What are your lives like outside of the band?

A: I'm getting married in 12 days. I devote my time to that endeavor, also bookkeep professionally and am voracious reader and cook. I also started a club for people who don't work in the day called the casual daytime cardplayer's league where we play hearts and drink tea and chat.
H: you'll never find me at one of annie's cardgames because i'm deathly allergic to cats and, i'm afraid, will always place second to her precious little Jumpsuit. when i'm not bitter about cats or playing music, i'm studying. i should be finished with school sometime in the next 15 years if all goes well.
E: im a freelance textile designer for a lovely bedding company called dwell. we practice a lot but in my freetime i like to hang out with friends, see music, be outside...

NfT: What are your individual interests? Extracurricular activities, that sort of thing?

A: See above.
H: astrophysics, graphic novels, nerd stuff in general.
E: i like reading new-age books and doing yoga.

NfT: What were your first crushes like?

A: Intense, plentiful and unrequited.
H: the typical stuff of moony moping doodles in diaries...and yeah, unrequited, always.
E: i usually decided who to have a crush on based on the previous years yearbook pictures. and it would always be boys who were way out of my league or that my friends also had crushes on so i never really had to face any of them.

NfT: Any good first kiss stories?

A: I had mine when I was fourteen on a date that consited of a seemingly endless walk around our school waiting for him to kiss me. When he finally did I remember it was kind of weird to have someone else's tounge in my mouth, I didn't know where the heck it was supposed to go! The relationship ended when summer started and he didn't return my phone calls. That was a pattern to emerge throughout college and all I have to say is, boys, if you are reading this and you have a girl in your life who you don't want to date, please just tell her instead of being a wimp who doesn't know how to communicate anything important to someone.
H: ugh, no. some drunk boy pushed me into another drunk boy and the rest was history. i was 15 and had an asthma attack from anticipation. does that even count?
E: all my friends left the room so my first boyfriend and i could kiss. my friends brother was hiding behind the couch and my sister was honking the horn of her car outside to pick me up. it was totally gross, but exhilarating.

NfT: What was the most embarrassing thing you were involved in/did during highschool? (marching band, math team, horrible Halloween costume...)

A: It wasn't so embarrassing because somehow I was all over the high school yearbook senior year for being best dressed, most popular this and that and ended up in the cool crowd, nominated for homecoming and prom queen, all while being in all that band stuff I listed above and in leadership roles in about 15 different clubs. It really showed me that as long as you have integrity, treat people well, and do what you believe in, people will like you and champion you, even if you are a big nerd. And gosh, look at me now, a gawky 26-year-old who started this project with no major keyboard abilities, really going places with my band. Or maybe that's just because of Heather and Erika!!!
H: ha, wow, my highschool experiences were much different than annie's! i found that (despite my integrity and kindness) if one was a nerd, one was pushed into lockers and subjected to much speculation about one's sexual orientation. but then i was also in star trek club. so maybe i'm to blame.
E: i was an editor for the school newspaper...and the v. worst player on the volleyball team.

NfT: Now I'd like to give the chance for you to say absolutely anything you'd like about yourselves, whether it's something you've noticed recently, a life philosophy, a music philosophy, something you believe in, a good story... anything at all. The floor is yours.

A: Please vote on election day! There are a lot of important local and statewide elections this year, where your vote is most valuble, so please educate yourself about the candidates and go out there and vote! It's what all the cool kids are doing.
H: dont go to art school.
E: peace on earth

NfT: Just to mix it up:

What city would you live in (any time period) and why?

A: I don't know. I like a lot of places.
H: Oooohhh...I like these questions. Um...due to my generally poor constitution I often imagine that I wouldn’t have lived past the age of five had I been born anytime before the turn of the century, when epinephrine was first prescribed for bronchial conditions (not to mention improving standards of hygiene) so I don’t really ache for days past. I would prefer to travel a thousand years into the future and see what life is like then.
E: the 60s. maybe in Switzerland...

NfT: About what book or movie would you feel comfortable judging somebody based on their appreciation of it? For instance, I'm such a believer in greek and roman classics, and in highschool those people that dissented reading them drove me crazy.

A: Anything by Ayn Rand or Bill Graham.
H: Philip K Dick enthusiasts are alright with me.
E: little britain (actually a tv series) or kath & kim (from australia) are pretty much the best shows ever.

NfT: Do you believe that, as Nietzsche says, "Laughter is the death of an emotion?"

A: No it is the start of one.
H: i'll have to think about that one more.
E: i just googled for that quote and couldnt find it. but i do agree with this one: " The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude."

NfT: If you fell in love with someone whose wife had died awhile before, would you feel uncomfortable with your place in his heart?

A: I don't know this one, either. Probably not, I mean people break up with people all the time and the breakupee who may not be over the first spouse still manages to get along. There's different types of love for different stages in your life.
H: congratulations on asking me the singularly most weird question i've ever been asked during an interview. um...i dont know. i guess it would depend on the guy. are we talking about a 'rebecca' like situation here? cause if then, yes. yes, i think i would be a little uncomfortable.
E: yeah, it pretty much depends on the situation.

thank you so much, ladies.

Great blog!
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