The de La Baume siblings, also known as Singtank, are releasing their second studio album “Ceremonies” on Parlaphone France Records. Their follow up album to “In Wonder” is coming out on September 22nd 2014. “In Wonder” was released by Joséphine and Alexandre in 2012. Their forthcoming “Ceremonies” is even more captivating and atmospheric than the last album. Joséphine is the eldest of the dynamic duo while Alexandre is the younger brother. Growing up the pair turned to music as a form of self expression. It acted as a bonding mechanism for the siblings. “Ceremonies” is strongly influenced by Singtank’s electic taste.
The opening to “In Wonder” is titled “The Party”. A must listen, “The Party” envelops a dreaminess like no other. Dreamy is one of the best words to describe Singtank. Their style can be defined as melodic pop with an air of wonder. Stylish even. Both Josephine and Alexandre offer two very different creative perspectives to Singtank. The more they differ in opinion the greater the production becomes. As English is a second language, certain syllables are pronounced in a foreign tongue. This is not a disadvantage however as it makes the music more tantalizingly stimulating. The urban melancholy, touching on romanticism, in Blade Runner and Kar Wai Wong’s Chungking Express embrace visual aesthetics through reflective emotional intensity. These particular aspects of the films heavily influenced “Ceremonies” and is showcased throughout the album.
While “In Wonder” was produced by Nellee Hooper and Alan O’Connell, “Ceremonies” is mastered by Samy Osta (Chromeo, La Femme, Jamaica). Urban loneliness is a main focus within “Ceremonies”. The de La Baume’s grew up in Paris with its metropolitan area being one of the largest population centres in Europe. The digital age is also explored with how we can become sucked into it in an instant (FOMO, La Vie En Octets). Inspiration for “Ceremonies” derives from “the melodic perfectionism of great songwriters like Harry Nilsson, Nick Drake or Julian Casablancas but also by the raw energy of Rick Rubin’s hip hop productions, while always trying to keep it all as organic as possible”. “Here We Go Again” opens “Ceremonies” introducing us to mutual influence from two singers. “Ursus”, a slower ballad, finalises the end of the album.
“Ceremonies” is filled with personality from one spectrum to another. Each track is very well balanced and unexpected. No two songs sound the same. Alexandre takes the lead with vocals while Joséphine performs backing vocals and vice versa. These combinations intertwine to achieve the desired result. The first single of the album “Can You Hear Me” was the greatest challenge the duo faced. Mark Ronson, Joséphine’s husband, arranged and produced the final edit alongside Samy Osta. “Can You Hear Me” is a nostalgic song of heartbreak. La Vie En Octets captures a man (Alexandre) unable to tear away from his computer. Social media has entrapped him. “Suspicious Minds” is a cover of Elvis Presley’s classic hit sang by Joséphine with harmonic vocals. “Suspicious Minds” is quite relevant to the overall theme as it symbolizes the negative impact social media has on our generation.
Due to “Ceremonies” release date, this day next month, I am inclined to not give too much away on each individual song. I do not want to ruin the surprise but believe me it is worth the wait. I leave you with this, the video for “Can You Hear Me”, to get you hooked, and an interview we managed to achieve with Alexandre de La Baume. I hope you are intrigued as much as I am. Enjoy the listen.
Who inspired you guys to create Singtank? Does music run in the family?
“No musicians whatsoever in our family as far as we can recall actually! But as teenagers when you sometimes have hard times understanding and expressing what you’re going through, music sort of became our way to communicate as brothers and sisters. It started very naturally like that, around the piano at home, and as we grew fonder and fonder of playing and writing songs together, it developed into a proper music project, Singtank.”
Can you tell me a bit about who your influences are?
“Very eclectic ones, especially for this new record. We were inspired by the melodic perfectionism of great songwriters like Harry Nilsson, Nick Drake or Julian Casablancas but also by the raw energy of Rick Rubin’s hip hop productions, while always trying to keep it all as organic as possible.”
Seen as English is a second language for you was it difficult at the start to produce songs in English?
“Both our lovers while making our records were english speakers, so it’s the language of love for both of us, it actually felt quite natural to write these songs in English.”
Have you ever produced songs in French?
“Yes, the new record has two songs in French! And we really enjoy writing in French, but some melodies are more inclined to French and some others to English.”
Describe to us the gig you’ve got the most enjoyment out of performing?
“We played in Biarritz two summers ago, on a big stage on the beach. The weather was really stormy, there was a lot of wind and everyone feared it would start raining any minute. We had heard very sad news right before the show and somehow this weather magically matched our mood. We really played with our guts and the crowd was incredibly responsive. It started pouring down rain right after we played our last song.”
What was it like collaborating with Mark Ronson on “Can You Hear Me”?
“We couldn’t quite finish that song, it was almost there but somehow something didn’t work as well as we hoped it would. Mark offered to help and by simplifying it and adding a few production tricks took us out of this dead end.”
In your own words how would you describe the feel to your music?
“Intimate, eclectic, hopeful… It’s hard to describe your own self, you tell us!”
Are there any bands in particular you’d love to perform with?
“It’s been very fun on our first tour to share the road with other bands and get to know them. We got to meet some of the bands our record producer worked with, and it kinda feels like we’re all his music children so it’d be fun to tour with them, Juniore, La Femme, etc.”
What can we expect from “Ceremonies” coming out this September?
“It’s a very personal record we wrote inspired by tough experiences Josephine and I went through recently, but making it was such a healing process that it’s a record full of hope and life. We grew up in a big city so we also talk about urban loneliness and elements that define our generation like the virtual digital world and the fears and the highs it can create. In terms of sounds we tried not to stick to a personal genre but really find the sound that would suit these songs, somewhere between contemporary indie pop, hip hop and classic songwriters’ ballads.”
What advice would you give to all the up coming bands starting off or anyone who is attempting to start a band?
“Don’t make any compromises, work until you’re 200% happy with what you have, develop your own thing in your own way (the music as well as the art, the videos) up until you have something going on for real.”
“If being an egomaniac means I believe in what I do and in my art or music, then in that respect you can call me that… I believe in what I do and I’ll say it”-John Lennon.