What is your favourite song from the new record? Is that a difficult question to answer?
James: It’s like choosing your favourite kid! You can’t really answer that, because you feel like the other songs will get upset and grow up weird, get emotional problems and all that kind of stuff. When they hit teenage years they’ll get fucked up, start taking drugs and we’ll never be able to play them again. But I’ll just probably say “Cascades”.
With your many other great songs, that obviously didn’t grow up weird and started taking drugs, what is your all-time favorite song to perform on stage?
James: It changes too often, you know. Right now we really have fun playing “Stadium Love”, but if we play “Dead Disco” I’m gonna shoot myself in the face. Will it be the same thing next year? Probably not.
We all see how it has become normal in our society to film and photograph everything, everywhere. How does it feel to be on stage and see all those people holding up their phones? Is it annoying?
Emily: I think we have to accept it. We remember a time where shows were just shows. You were in one room. And if you’re in the room – you’re in the room. And if you’re not – you’re not. But the whole world has changed that way, you know. I remember the transition was kind of...”hugh”. But I would never be pissed off, because it’s up to you guys. What you wanna do and how you wanna enjoy a concert.
James: There used to be a feeling in the room that anything could happen. But now you cannot say anything you want. You’re saying it to the whole world, not just to 300 people.
Emily: Or even 10.000.
James: Context is everything. You could say things in the context of a rock ‘n’ roll show and the entire room would understand, because of the context of the show. But if somebody just uploads a part of it, the whole world could misinterpretate the things you meant to say. Performers don’t perform anymore.
That’s a very interesting point, because everywhere we read how the internet and social media is great for freedom of speech…
Emily: And it’s the opposite. And it is also a very right fear that people are afraid of saying what’s really on their mind, because if you say something that’s not completely right you immediately have a mob of angry people in front of your house. That’s weird, and you guys [people our age - younger than you think ;) ] are involved in it too, because if somebody is socially inept enough to hold up their iPad at a concert…
James: That is my dad (laughs).
Emily: Which would be okay actually, if it was your dad! But the people your age standing there with an iPad… ugh, what is wrong with you? Hold up a phone, but not an iPad!
We can totally agree with that. The next question is difficult to answer, but could you describe your whole career in just one sentence?
Emily: An adventure.
Powerful. Have you recognised a big change in the music industry itself since you started making music? Is it a different world now?
James: Yes, for sure. There was the late 90’s music industry which was like the “gold rush”, the height of money in it. And then, in the early 2000’s, we kinda saw this “independent revival”, with bands like The Strokes or The White Stripes and all the bands that were around New York when we were starting. And this giant flag of the “democratization” of the music industry was waved, that was supposed to happen through the internet over the following ten years. But that didn’t really happen like everyone thought it was going to. It ended up worse in a kind of way, because the industry lost so much money over fifteen years and basically got to its smallest point in history, where whoever has any money is going to have that money very closely guarded and locked up. Nobody will take risks anymore.
Emily: It’s a reflection of the larger economy.
James: The “middle class” of the music industry is gone – there is a huge lower class that exists like in these giant countries called “Soundcloud”. It’s like the refugee camp of the music world, and people are making really great music in there, but no one is making any money from it. And then there’s the “champaign-world” called “Vidal” or whatever…. (curses)
Emily: It’s “Tidal”.
James: “Tidal”, who cares? And that was the biggest joke of all time! The artists there literally own 99% of the music industry. Is it now better for me that Daft Punk, Madonna and Jack White get royalties from my music?! And thank you, Arcade Fire. That was kind of the end of the end, where even those guys, who are usually standing up for the middle class, are participating. It is ridiculous.
Very interesting and critical words! One question that shows so much about what other styles of music you appreciate: if you had to do a complete U-Turn on the style of music you do, what would you be doing?
Emily: Deep-Folk. I feel like doing that right now. Drink tea, play super-quiet, everybody has to whisper and smoke tons of weed. (laughs)
That’s sounds like a good plan! Unfortunately, our time is over…so thank you very much for the great chat and good luck at the show tonight!