It would appear that often in the world of electronic pop, two’s company and three is indeed a crowd. From Sparks through to Yazoo, Soft Cell, Erasure, The Pet Shop Boys and more recently La Roux and Purity Ring it would appear that two, not three is certainly the magic number.
Which brings us on to today’s featured artist who also happen to be an electronic pop duo. Alice Fox and Jack St James may have the sort of names that appear to have wandered off the pages of script from a rather camp Aaron Spelling 80’s crime drama, but they are in fact the musical lynch pins behind the soaring electro pop of Avec Sans. We’ve featured them a fair bit over the last 20 months pretty much from the get go when they first burst onto the scene with a throbbing, elegiac cover of Bon Iver’s ‘Perth’. They followed that with something of a trilogy of euphoric stadium sized electro pop monsters in the shape of ‘Heartbreak Hi’, ‘The Answer‘ and ‘Hold On’ and they return with their latest free download ‘ Shiver.’ It contains all the dreamy euphoria of their previous works, with the pop sensibility of Chvrches, (Ok, ok so they are a trio which somewhat blows our “duo” theory out of the water) another electro-pop act who’s seemingly upbeat music masks a melancholic sense of yearning. ‘ Shiver’ premièred on Pop Justice yesterday… and so we thought it high time we spoke to one half of this mysterious duo.
VP: So your name? It isn’t a font, but literally means “with without ” is there some hidden meaning there relating to yourselves or your music?
ALICE: I’d never thought of people mistaking it for a font, good point! It basically comes from our thoughts on the idea of most songs or of our focus as human beings being about the presence of absence of something or someone.
VP: You’re both still somewhat mysterious, shadowy figures – what can you tell us about your musical backgrounds and how you met to form Avec Sans?
ALICE: We’re not trying to be especially, we exist in the real world now as a live performing entity. We both came from diverse musical backgrounds, having been involved in music since we can remember and we’d bonded over our common taste whilst in other acts. It took an outsider pointing out the obvious that we’d work well together for the project to actually start.
VP: The first song you released was a cover of Bon Iver’s Perth, which you transformed into a HUGE electro pop beast. It’s probably not a song that many would think could translate into something you could really lose your sh*t to on the dance floor. What was it about the song that made you want to cover it?
ALICE: I’d been listening to that album a lot. I think you know a song is a good song when it translates into different genres and we considered which act was the least like us and it was almost a personal challenge. It translated, as it’s a good song at its core.
VP :Every song you’ve released so far has been very well received on the blogosphere – do you think the power of the net is somewhat overstated or is there really a feeling with musicians that you can genuinely get somewhere without a big label?
ALICE: I think it’s essential for a band to have an online presence before a label will get involved these days. The power of it for us was that the bloggers picked up on that cover on day one of it being online within 8 hours of existing online we were getting gig overs and had an inbox full and emails from major label a&rs. Does it mean you can get somewhere WITHOUT a big label, I guess we’ll see, we’re currently recording an album and putting out singles without one, but we’ve only just started really.
VP: On the other side there’s been a few tales lately of bands being signed and then totally sidelined by big labels… do you think it’s more difficult for bands now, not just in terms of getting a deal, but in being able to get a deal that actually does their music justice?
ALICE: I’ve known acts who’ve been stuck in that situation and how devastating it is for acts who think they’ve finally made it, only to have it end before it’s begun, especially when they’re dropped and don’t have ownership of their own album. We’re just enjoying being able to get out and do what we do, play live, record stuff, be able to put it out and thankfully wouldn’t really know about that at this moment in time.
VP: Euphoric and ethereal, would that be a good description of your sound, the kind of vibe you’re trying to achieve ?
ALICE: That’s pretty accurate actually. I quite often halt a track if I don’t feel like it has an uplifting effect on me. I’m someone whose mood is really impacted by music and I want something to lift me and in turn want to make music which has an uplifting effect on others.
VP: What sort of artists have influenced you both individually and in terms of the band’s sound?
ALICE: We did a mix for the Line of Best Fit recently and one for Noisey, I think they give a really clear idea of the range of our influences and the dark meeting the light. Jack’s mix was essentially the dark mix and mine the light with our tastes overlapping across them.
VP: You’ve only recently joined twitter, how’s that been for you? People often take the view that it’s a waste of time and yet then when they join have a change of heart?
ALICE: I think you might have spotted the interplay between myself and Peter Robinson at Pop Justice there. He basically did a really great piece on us and linked to our Twitter whilst qualifying that we weren’t really tweeters. So I took it upon myself to try and engage with it. For the first week it was pretty much me talking to Peter exclusively but I think I’m starting to get it a bit, I had to google where the hashtag was on a mac! Ha. I can’t say it’s been taking up too much time yet, but it did make a scary night by myself in the middle of the country side more interesting when I live tweeted the creaking floor boards and CCTV and everyone convinced me I was going to get killed by some masked intruder. Thanks Twitter.
VP: What plans do you have for the next year?
ALICE:Make more music, play more gigs, get on a plane and play some gigs in other countries.
VP: So what inspired The new single, ‘Shiver?’
ALICE : It’s basically a super fun pop song about death. The germ of the idea came from a video a German friend posting on Jack’s facebook wall, it was a German birthday song which had a child singing the lines (which make it into ‘Shiver’) “How nice it was that you were born”. I think something gets a little lost in translation as it seemed almost morbid, something someone would sing after the death of a friend. It got me thinking about mortality and thus a pop song arose.
VP: Finally if you were given a free hand to remix any artist – who would that be (one each)
ALICE: I’d love to do something with a Sufjan Stevens or maybe an Arcade Fire track, there’s so many intricate layers that I think it would be an interesting thing to have stems for and be able to pull apart and put back together again.