Montreal minimalist heavy trio have BIG|BRAVE have a new album out in nature morte. Paul Castles goes in search of some answers with the band’s vocalist Robin Wattie.
ZT: Congratulations on the new album, which is extraordinary. What was your mindset going into this?
BB: aw thank you so much! Sonically, we wanted to really just push ourselves to the best of our writing capabilities through experimenting with the concepts of minimalism and space that we’ve carried through when approaching each album to date.
Lyrically, the mindset had very much to do with the concept of its title nature morte. In English it means ‘still life’, and the direct translation is ‘dead nature’. like with all the previous albums, themes of introspection, observation and experience with how cruel humans can be to each other and to our very own planet, especially to all that is feminine.
ZT: Did the final cut live up to your own expectations? BB: I think the final cut exceeded all of our expectations! Once recorded, mixed and mastered, we took a break and only listened back a few months afterward to help gain perspective. We were very pleased :)
ZT: How did things roll in the studio – smoothly? BB: Recording with Seth Manchester has always been a great time, hard work and ultimately very fulfilling. He is such a hard worker and is constantly thinking and listening and learning and experimenting. a really great collaborator!
ZT: ‘The One Who Bornes a Weary Load’ is a very tortured track, can you provide a little insight into the emotions at play here? BB: It has to do with the endless violence of desire and greed and how it is an incessant nightmare for those on the receiving end of it; the cruelty of such a want can be applied to the the primary concept of the album: the subjugation of femininity in all it’s pluralities (nature, human etc).
ZT: ‘The Fable of Subjugation’ is another fragile song that really hits you with its rawness. There is a lot of anger at play here too? BB: This one is more of an observation of exactly who is doing all the winning in history up until present day. Every album we’ve made thus far is full of emotion, however the more explicit the lyrics the more apparent that emotion becomes. Perhaps this is why it seems as though it has more feeling.
ZT: Is there any kind of connecting thread that holds these songs together? I know that some touch on feminism and there is a darkness that permeates these songs – is that fair? BB: Yes absolutely! Because of how shy I used to be when writing lyrics, I hid meaning in metaphors. With this album I felt I could try my hand at being a little more explicit while keeping things vague enough for those to enter each song and attribute their own meaning.
ZT: Can you just share some details about the band’s background – Have you all been friends for some time? BB: Mathieu and I have been friends for over 14 years actually! Tasy and I have been friends for at least 5 or 6 at this point. Mathieu and I met as roommates and Tasy and I met through a dear dear mutual friend Amy. Mathieu and I both went to art school in university. and like Mathieu, Tasy is one of those natural musicians. Both of them have been playing music since they were quite young with a keen intuition.
ZT: The band is not easy to categorise as the sounds reach out across many areas. Extreme is perhaps a starting point. Was it always the plan not to follow obvious musical paths or did BIG|BRAVE simply develop this way naturally? BB: We started out with concepts of minimalism, space and tension. We kept the instrumentation minimal, the structures simple to the point of using only one chord for one song or one key for a whole album. It challenged us to make each piece and album as interesting as we possibly could under these parameters. The rest happened naturally through experimentation and a lot of very hard work.
ZT: You have a long tour coming up, how easy is it to perform these emotionally charged songs on stage? BB: Oh good question. surprisingly it is easier than I expected it to be haha! I think because there are so many factors in play when performing live, I try my best to be present in the moment.
ZT: Your UK dates include Desertfest – Is this one you are looking forward to? Absolutely we are!! it’s very exciting and we can’t wait!
ZT: How gratifying has it been to see the album trigger so much interest? BB: Oh! haha! I think it is more affirming than anything – we always have zero expectations when putting out music. If anything, we worry! We are always so pleasantly surprised people like and gravitate and even follow our music! It’s so deeply motivating and validating!
ZT: Do each of you bring your own influences to the table or are there one or two artists that you all connect with? For me BIG|BRAVE stir similar emotions and challenge you in a similar way to Amenra? BB: I think we bring some of our own influences, but mostly we strive to listen to our intuition while respecting the band’s musical concepts.
ZT: To what extent do outside forces shape the band, personal life experiences, other art forms perhaps? BB: Oh to every extent possible. Specifically Mathieu and I, having gone to art school and who are quite curious by nature; everything we’ve ever experienced informs everything we do and how we think and what we produce. I think that is part of being human in general, whether we realise it or not.
BIG|BRAVE will be performing at Roadburn in the Netherlands in April, Desertfest in London in May and at Supersonic Festival in Birmingham in September – Full UK/Euro dates below…