Melbourne six-piece Alpine has been busy creating ‘bold, shimmering, sophisticated pop music’ and pushing the boundaries of fabulous fashion for just over half a decade. Earlier this year they released their much anticipated second studio album Yuck followed by a relentless tour schedule, much to the delight of fans. We caught up with frontwomen Phoebe Baker for a quick chat about the new album, band dynamics and those glorious jumpsuits.
You’ve been gigging and touring extensively this year, with no sign of slowing down. If it gets exhausting for the six of you, we certainly wouldn’t know it. How did your last tour go?
Our last tour was great, we’d had a big break recording and writing the album, so getting back into it was a mixture of anticipation nerves, excitement and confidence. Abundant in feeling. We put a lot of effort into making it a special thing, a show that exceeded out previous ones in terms of everything really. Haha.
Your sophomore album Yuck was released only a few months ago and has been well received. What’s it like getting to share those surreal electro-pop tunes with your fans each night?
Haha, it’s great. It differs night by night, crowds react differently, you react differently, you can’t expect anything but you can try your best to perform the music well, and to make it interesting each time we play. The stage is a place of I guess, adult play, it’s very cathartic and special.
What do you set out to achieve with your live performances and how do you feel when you’re performing on stage with a live audience?
We set out to entertain, to do the music justice and to not take ourselves too seriously. I think out aspirations for what we do on stage have and will evolve as time goes by. I still find it a surreal experience, it’s kind of a mixture of thrilling, silly, awkward, lovely. I can feel great, open and in the moment or I can feel self conscious and shy, but I never know which ones of these I’ll feel till it’s happening.
I’ve read in your other interviews that you guys are pretty cohesive in collaborating to write your music. Is there a particular person who drives the direction of the lyrics or is it a shared thing?
Christian is the mum that gave birth to Alpine. First pregnant man ever. Haha. Well really he sort of drives it, and has done in the past, in terms of the instrumentation and production. However it is much more collaborative now and we all pitch in, Tim especially is bringing more songs and sounds to the mix. Me and Lou write the melodies and vocals and have our hand in the production and instrumentation too. I think we all can feel what our ‘noise’ is, and we work well in figuring that out together.
With six members in Alpine, there must be times when you have different ideas or opinions on the music you’re crafting. Does that ever happen or are you guys pretty similar in your views and ideas?
It’s definitely happens. Six different minds is a cacophonous clutter that can be tricky to navigate. That’s part of the fun and frustration of working as a collaboration. The pros out weigh the cons, so we move on.
When you’re creating your music, do you try to you pay homage to any of your influences or do you try to completely blaze your own trail?
Both I think. Maybe we are always paying homage, unknowingly. Foolish for instance, was heavily inspired by the joyous genius of Milton Nascimento. Yet writing, at least for me, isn’t fun unless I’m surprising myself, challenging myself, satisfying myself with the music I write.
What has been your favourite song to create and work on so far (over both albums), and why?
So many of them have been fun and important in their creation. I think Come On was definitely a great moment in the studio. It came about so fast, I can hardly remember! Haha. But it was a great release, and I think we all felt a sense of excitement when it started to take shape in the studio.
You and Lou always look incredibly glam and fabulous. Tell us where your outfits come from and where you get your inspiration?
My mum makes a lot of our outfits. We go to fabric stores and fall in love with cloths that we want to wrap around our egos. Yum. Me and Lou love glam, Bowie, Byrne, Grace Jones, Vivienne Westwood, Marc Bolan.. the list of gorgeous creatures goes on. I’m a jumpsuit gal, ain’t nothing like wearing one garment, that’s so practical and so fabulous.
Phil, Christian, Ryan and Tim – do you guys ever feel the pressure to up the stakes in the fashion field, or are you happy to let the girls steal the show?
Phil: I am totally keen to up the stakes in the fashion field! Let me steal the show!
You guys have been together as Alpine for six years now and have grown together as musicians. How have the dynamics within the band changed during this time?
We’ve gotten closer, and more openly loving toward each other. We have a sibling like relationship. I feel very lucky to be a part of a group of people that can work together so well, after such a long time and such a lot of time together. Touring is a great test of any relationship, months in close confines brings out the worst in people, we seem to have survived.
Up to this point in your musical careers what has been the biggest highlight for you guys?
Hm.. Jimmy Kimmel, Splendour in the Grass, SXSW, getting our albums on vinyl.
At the end of the year, you guys will be hitting the festival circuit with the likes of Valley Fiesta, Falls Festival, Festival of the Sun, and Southbound. Is there one in particular that you’re most looking forward to performing at, and why?
Oooo all! Though Falls in Tassie is absolutely gorgeous. Well, they are all gorgeous really.
Last question: what’s one thing you know now that you wish you know sooner? What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Oh gosh. I don’t know. Maybe you don’t have to have just one thing/career that you focus on in your life, you can do lots. I don’t wish I knew anything sooner, well maybe that it’s very ok to feel vulnerable or anxious, it’s human. I wish I could think of a better one, my mum always says ‘don’t think, just do’.. Now there’s lots of wisdom to this, but I think… That’s all I need to say!
Stay up to date with the latest news from Alpine at www.facebook.com/alpineband