Interview: BIG | BRAVE
It's not that we wanted to tear up the process and start anew necessarily; it was more that we wanted to push our original ideas and ourselves forward
Since their inception in 2012, BIG|BRAVE have explored terrains of experimental rock with a clear focus on the key principles; space, volume, and raw emotion. The essence of BIG | BRAVE’s magic has always been the way they balance these dynamics, and particularly how much sheer power comes from the beautifully quiet moments.
They have a new album, A Gaze Among Them, out on May 10th through Southern Lord and from what we’ve heard so far it is going to be a very special record, so we sent Jamie Jones to have a chat with Robin Wattie from the band to find out more.
(((o))): Congratulations on another stunning record! So for the recording on this one you’ve said that you wanted to go back to the ‘original concepts’ and start over from fresh. Why did you decide to tear up the process now? What did you want to do differently?
Thank you so much! That’s very kind of you to say!
It’s not that we wanted to tear up the process and start anew necessarily; it was more that we wanted to push our original ideas and ourselves forward – we wanted to steer clear from what we believed worked in the last albums or what is, for us, easy to write. Although these original concepts are something we carried throughout each album, we felt we needed to approach this latest record almost as if it was our first attempt at exploring these concepts, but, with a little more experience under our belts to do so.
(((o))): It feels to me like a more imposing, more direct Big|Brave record, particularly coming after Ardor. Would you agree with that? And of so is that something you intended it to be?
Yes, I agree. Ardor has been described as more of a cinematic landscape, whereas, A Gaze Among Them is definitely more commanding, and I would say more visceral. This stems from not wanting to do what seemed to be a ‘logical next step’ in what we could do/where we could go musically, what we knew worked for the last albums or what is, for us, easier to write.
(((o))): If I’m not mistaken this is the first record that doesn’t feature any other voices than Robin’s. Was that part of the plan?
It was not part of the plan actually, just circumstantial. I liked the idea of having a solitary voice, and once we were ready to record vocals, it was agreed that the singular voice seemed best. Also, there is something to be said about using just one voice through out the entire record with no layering except for the last part of the last song on the record.
(((o))): I’ve read that you (Robin) don’t write lyrics before recording. Is this still the case after this reboot of sorts? If so where do the themes come from? Do you go in with any kind of plan or do you hope your subconscious brings something interesting to proceedings?
Oh I do start writing the lyrics before recording – they are usually finalized before recording the vocals.
The themes for all our albums mostly come from observation/what I’ve witnessed, as well as what I’ve experienced.
Like all of our records, I used my own pieces of writing that I break down to fit whichever song I feel is right. The difference with this latest album is that I included my pieces of writing in the liner notes – something I have never done.
(((o))): I’ve read that you consider Big|Brave to be as much a visual arts project as you do a band. Have you got any plans for videos or live visuals for this record?
It’s not that we consider the band a visual arts project per se, its more that Mathieu and I come from visual arts backgrounds and have approached this musical project much in the same way by way of giving heavy thought into what we want to achieve conceptually and how we would like to/what we would need to do to realize this.
(((o))): A lot of the magic in your music seems to exist between chords and notes, when things are left hanging and feedback is ringing. How much is dictated by gear and how much control do you have? Are you looking for happy accidents or do you have a clear idea of what you’re hoping to hear in those spaces?
This is very good question. I believe it is all encompassing/a mix of everything.
With experimentation and practice, we do know what our gear is capable of. And when we produce sounds we are interested in, a lot of time is spent in figuring out how to repeatedly conjure them/something similar under the differing variables of venue, space and stage etc. And in our experimentation, happy accidents are always quite welcome. For example, with the track Sibling, the whole guitar line was born out of my having short stubby fingers sticking to the strings.
(((o))): You’re kind of a unique band and you’ve toured with a variety of artists from different genres. I was wondering who you see as your peers/kindred spirits?
Oh wow, that’s a hard question to answer as we don’t see ourselves being anywhere near equal or level to most of the bands we’ve toured with – all of whom are professionals that we’ve looked to or up to in this industry. We, on the other hand, are still figuring things out!
(((o))): Lastly you’ll be with us shortly for a UK tour. What can the uninitiated expect from a Big|Brave show?
Yes we are excited to finally be playing some shows in the UK again! It’s been ages!
For the uninitiated, they can expect something very loud, heavy, minimal and repetitive. Perhaps even cathartic.
(((o))): Thank you for your time and for making such great music!