Spring (Interview Transcript)

Read the corresponding magazine article here.

1. What sort of influence does jazz have on Spring? I ask, because I just got this Antonio Carlos Jobim/Frank Sinatra record, and I think it’s closer to Spring than most anything else I can think of.

Hum. Good point! This is a fantastic record and a really great compliment! In Spring, some of us have been 60’s-Top Of The Pop music-bred. Jobim, Sinatra definitely. Bossanova and crooners were like Sunday-family-lunchtime-soundtracks. Jobim and Stan Getz were my parents’ favourite artist. And everything you’ve been listening to as a kid, as far as you can remember the tune or the lyrics, is part of you musical origins. We just inherit of our past and whatever we do is a reflection of who we are from since we were born to nowadays. That’s why there is a vast range of, if not influences, references in Spring music.
From 60’s pop to post-punk. Personally, for example, I started doing music because of The Fall and Lawrence (Felt/Denim) and of what they meant to me. Since then, I have been having ideas I cannot avoid expressing through music. As far as jazz is concerned, apart from the choice of the band name, I think that we’ll let space in our songs, even in a pop format. I think that you could be surprised by the structure of some Spring songs in a way that many of them are not just a verse/chorus/verse structure.

2. Do you think Spring places more emphasis on style over content, or do you think a valid distinction between style and content cannot be made?

When you grow up listening to different kinds of music, you just cannot deny the multiple faces and moods dawning into you. There is not a lot you can do apart from learning to respect the contradictions that mould your own personality and perception. It is healthy not to be deaf to what provides you some emotion, whatever the song is about, let it be groovy, punk or country. Spring was born as we were trying to make some connections between some feelings from different angles. It’s like singing “I’m an anarchist” through a very funky deep soul music.” Or “I’m broke and bed-sitting and thinkin’ all day long” through a happy melodious Latin song. It’s not meant to be arrogant though we just wanna express ourselves. We just can’t help doing music. It’s like being able to breathe: it’s like suffocating whenever we can’t make music. There should never be a distinction between who you are and what you do. Still, style and content shouldn’t be close to each other but just be complementary.

3. Do you think it’s important for the musical artist to remain dignified when it comes to shows of emotion in music? (ie. Spring always seems to remain low-key and subtle — not tortured and not over the top) or in other words, it is important to keep the music smooth?

To remain dignified in terms of showing or not showing emotions is something I never thought of. It seems hard to be calculating all your emotions. Though, I believe that keeping aloof from yourself helps to see things clearly and to understand people. But, like on stage, I show my emotions, always : in the way I sing, the way I look at the audience. I’m not a comedian, I’m a musician! But I like when you said ‘not tortured but not over the top’, that’s great. That’s like someone looking through the mirror and listening to The Velvet Underground. I like the idea. I don’t particularly think it’s important to keep the music smooth but, as I told you before, what we like is trying and creating contrasts, not musically, but between the music and the lyrics.

4. To what extent is Spring influenced by the cinema, both the cinema as it relates to life, and also the influence of cinematic music?
5. And on that note — what are some of Spring’s favorite movies? On that note again, I sort of thought the movie Irma Vep made apparent the fact that French cinema is in decline and is getting nostalgic for better days
— is that fair?

4/ & 5/
The thing is that nearly everyone who was involved in Spring – persons from previous line-ups as much as collaborators – was into movies. For my part, I wouldn’t go to cinemas. I don’t feel comfortable in those places. I’m too self concious and it frightens me. What I love to do is, when alone at home, watching videos of Ingmar Bergman’s or Michelangelo Antonioni’s movies. These directors had and have a really big impact on me. They know how to turn a story full of violence and of strange, weird and cruel characters into a beautiful and peaceful paintings, which I found fascinating. We always like the idea of a visual feeling given by a musical piece. But it’s not something we work on. I mean, we never think : “Yeah, let’s try to create a cinematographic ambiance”. You know what I mean? But, obviously, as we really like movies or soundtracks, the 60’s ones, all these things have an influence when we try and write songs. Anyway, image is quite important – image as videos and sleeves. Do you know there is a video for the song “Chuck It Up”? It’s a real strange story. We didn’t know at all the guy who made it. He is called Tuyi and we only met him when we went to Mallorca, a month ago (end of january). He worked on the video without knowing us and he did something so close to what we like it was incredible. Just before we went on stage, he shows us the video and that moment was amazing : it’s one of our best souvenir. The story, the characters suit the song so well! The guy is really talented. And we feel so lucky to work with a guy like that or Eric Pérez who designs all our sleeves. Eric is like a member of the band : his work is so important in the perception of Spring LPs and moods. Anyway, I quite agree with what you say about French cinema. There’s a certain nostalgia, you know, this search of the late 50’s/ 60’s golden era. It’s less creative, less imaginative in a way. But it’s a usual phenomenon anyway, just like this pathetic English musical scene, this britpop.

6. If Spring was a drink, what would it be? Do you think Cassis would be a good guess — maybe Cassis and orange juice.

Hum. Orange juice. This was definitly a great band! “Rip It Up” was one of the best single from the 90’s. Anyway, I think the colour of cassis suits Spring quite well. But, we’d rather be a lemon juice in which you add a bit ? or maybe a lot of rhum.

7. What sort of influence does Paris have on Spring? You know Paris has been called the capital of the 19th Century, but what about the 20th Century — does the future bode well? I was only in Paris for a few hours this past April, but when I was there, I swear big melodies like never before entered my head. I thought as a place to be it felt great.

Paris is one of the most beautiful city. There’s this really romantic atmosphere, specially in. spring and summer. But I think Paris has more charms for someone who just spends a few days or a few weeks. In that case, you’ve only got the time to discover all its charms and beauty. But Paris is also one of the most boring city you can live in. You know, there’s all this big buzz about the french/parisian groove thing. And there’s nothing to do, nowhere to go. There are just one or two interesting clubs, one or two really nice bars where you really want to hang around.

8. I’m in Paris with a girl — what’s the best thing I can do?

Heu, to this question, François, our bass player, wants to answer quite precisely: it doesn’t matter whether you are in Paris or not to do the best thing(s) you can do with a girl. And, frankly, we all agree!

9. Can you explain the way girls in France can insult a guy, in such a way that it feels like a compliment?

Hey! You’d rather tell us the whole story because we become very curious when it comes to talk about this.

10. What about Madrid? How does it compare to Paris? To me Spring sounds more Meditteranean than anything else, at least on the “Be My Star” single. Do you think it’s fair to closely associate music with places?

Madrid has stolen a bit of our soul, you know. It’s not only because the people who trust in us live over there. It’s also because of the atmosphere, it makes us feel alive! And this atmosphere is partly made by the people we know. So I suppose we know the right persons. Madrid is a fantastic city : we love the architecture, these enigmatic little streets. We love the bars and the way Spanish people live, the rhythm they give to a normal day : there is a sensuality which doesn’t exist anywhere else in Europe. Anyway, it’s fair enough to associate music with a place. When you write a song, anything can influence you. It could be a person you see on the subway, a conversation you hear in a bar. It coul be a thought you have while you are walking down a street. Anyhow, I always thought Spring is like a place, where anyone is welcome as long as they do respect each other, so that everyone feels fine enough to free their own vibes^

11. What sort of influence have the collaborators (Moose, Pez, Extra Lucid, Indurain, etc.) had on Spring? It seems to me like these collaborators have really brought out a potential in Spring that is not always explored.

We’ve always been into collaborations, since the very start of Spring. We just cannot help it. But we come to it in a very natural way, just because we want to spend some time with someone whose personality and music we like a lot. We don’t calculate it, we just feel like doing a few songs with that person. That’s it. With Kevin from Moose, it was really obvious : we know him for several years and we were recording in London. We just asked him to pop into the studio. We never planned to ask him doing backing vocals. He was there, hanging around and we asked
him : “why don’t you try and sing something? It was exactly the same with Indurain, Extra Lucid or Pez. One day, we just thought : “hey try and do something with him.” It was always as simple as that. Obviously, these people have brought something to Spring. That was another idea. We are into electronic stuff, we are into dancey kind of things, programmings or samplings. But we need them to achieve what we wanted, obviously. But, all these collaborations have more to see with friendship and pleasure than anything else. For example, the “Out Of time” LP came very naturally. One day, we were talking with Pez and thought : “Hey why don’t we do something together?” For me, it was interesting to be confronted with beats and loops and try to write pop melodies, try to write arrangements. For Pez, it was interesting to be confronted to a pop format, to a proper song, in a way, if you know what I mean. You know, it’s like mixing different colours together to create another one. We did it in the same way Primal Scream worked with Andy Weatherall for “Screamadelica” or when Stereolab ask Sean O’Hagan to write some arrangements to their songs or when they ask John McEntire to produce them : they know these people are going to help them to traduce some ideas. That’s why I love abstract hip hop so much. This music is powerful and brings good vibes into you because these musicians and producers do mix together things that are not meant to be mixed up together. Dr Octagon, Dj Shadow Massive Attack, I listen to them a lot.

12. On that note — if you could collaborate with anyone, then who would it be?

I suppose I could name you many artists. But, as you were talking about Paris on question 7, you refered to “big melodies like never before entered in my head”. So, if we have to collaborate with anyone in a near future, it might be you, eh!

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