Dollars to Pounds: Elephant

August 18, 2011


Yes, there are a lot of boy-girl duos around these days. Kisses, Tennis, Summer Camp, Cults, Big Deal and Cat’s Eyes. They all sound different and fantastic in their own ways but the common vibe is intimate, sun-filtering-through-the-trees, Polaroid-pop. Blame Beach House I guess.

Some of these couples are making more than just musical love. Most of them are real life couples (Summer Camp), some of them are not (Big Deal), but I was pretty surprised to see Amelia Rivas and Christian Pinchbeck, who go by the moniker Elephant, not only making music together but also just making out, topless, in their moodily-lit video for recent single “Allured”.

This is what we all secretly want to see anyway: musicians making out. Of course it helps that French-born Rivas (in her final year at journalism school) and Pinchbeck (recent graphic design grad from Chelsea College of Art and Design) create a dusky, sonic swoon that’s easy to fall for. Lushly layered with organs or moody synths and perfectly placed tambourine shakes, Rivas' pouting vocal is both lustly assured and lip-bitingly vulnerable. I had a getting-to-know you chat with the quick-quipping pair. Read it and download their track "Actors," below.

Download: Elephant, "Actors"


How did you meet? CHRISTIAN: I know Milly through a friend and we went to this reggae night and she was working behind the bar, so I thought I’d try. AMELIA: I wasn’t working behind the bar that night. That was a different night. CHRISTIAN: I basically tried to hit on Milly and invited her round to my house to record some songs.

You immediately invited her round to record? AMELIA: He was a sly fox. He just wanted to get me round his house. CHRISTIAN: She came round with three demos and I said I’d help her produce them. We spent the night recording these three songs and then we did the same thing a week later and just kept doing it and that’s how we got to know each other.

So when did you start making out with each other? CHRISTIAN: Oh that was on the first night. Or was it the second night? We’d write some songs and then get it on a bit and write a couple more songs.

Sounds like a good balance. What’s the story behind “Allured”? AMELIA: I was 16 and I fancied a boy in my school play. I’m not going to say the play in case he reads this. He was a geek and I started stalking him. He was pretty hot.

Did you ever end up getting with him? AMELIA: No because I realized he was a bit of a douche bag. He’s gay now as well.

The live set up is just the two of you at the moment— AMELIA: We’re getting a new band set up now. Some keyboardists and a drummer. CHRISTIAN: We’re not getting a drummer. AMELIA: We’re getting a drummer! CHRISTIAN: We’re basically getting Milly off the keyboards. AMELIA: I’m going to make up some dance routines and then I’m going to go into the audience and snog men.

How do you feel about that? CHRISTIAN: I’m over it. I’m fine.

How is the debut LP coming along? CHRISTIAN: It’s much more beat-y. I’ve been listening to too much hip hop. A lot of heavy electronic drums and I’m not sure how a drummer to would translate that live. We’ll get a boombox to play bass and drums. There’s not much guitar on it either so it’s just going to be me and another keyboard player and Milly shaking her booty. I think the album is going to be pretty different then the singles. Like ’90s chill out with some hip hop in there.

Where were you when the London riots were kicking off? AMELIA: I live in Peckham and it was pretty bad there. I was woken up by helicopters and turned on the news and was like, Oh my God. I tried to get out of the house and the police had a go at me and I knocked someone over with my bike. I got a new pair of trainers out of it though.

You did not go looting. AMELIA: I wasn’t involved but the next day there was so much stuff in the street, I was like I’m going to take this odd pair of trainers as a memento.

The scenes were pretty apocalyptic. AMELIA: It was like the world was going to end. Everyone was running at each other, there was glass everywhere and fire. Then when I thought I was safe I rode past a double decker bus on fire.

Why didn’t you just stay in your house? AMELIA: I was scared! I was in the house by myself. And the riots were a street away from me.

What is the best thing about each other? AMELIA: Why did you ask that?!

Just to make you feel uncomfortable.
AMELIA: Well you did that. It’s a bit awkward because me and Chris aren’t together anymore. CHRISTIAN: I’d love to be, but this douchebag has other reasons. AMELIA: Well ok so we’re not together so this might be a different answer to what you were expecting. He answered, “Everything” about me which is a cop out. I think I like his fiery ginger locks. CHRISTIAN: I’m not fiery for a start. AMELIA: Okay your beat-making.

So when did you break up? AMELIA: Maybe a month ago. CHRISTIAN: I’m trying my best. Do you want to talk to her?

I’ll have a word. But you’re still determined to make music together. AMELIA: Yeah definitely. We’ll be okay. CHRISTIAN: Will we? AMELIA: Yeah. If not I’ll replace you.

But you’re kissing like crazy in that video. CHRISTIAN: Yeah! The band is about us, it always has been.

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Dollars to Pounds: Elephant