Interview: Erika Spring

July 11, 2012

We met the delightful Erika Spring at a café in Greenpoint, Brooklyn recently, both coincidentally dressed in floral prints. Spring's self-titled EP—her first solo work, as opposed to her usual gig as a third of Au Revoir Simone—is out now via Cascine. Above, watch the video for "Hidden," and below read Spring on Phil Collins, Philip Glass and Eurythmics.

Going solo, did you want to aim for a bigger sound? A lot of Au Revoir Simone songs have been remixed, and there’s some really successful ones with softer vocals and faster and harder beats. I wasn’t exactly thinking about that when I was making the EP, but I’m always into those remixes. When I was writing the songs I envisioned them with these different beats, and I was obsessing over the Phil Collins song "I Don’t Care Anymore." It has this really long drum intro, and it’s slow but heavy.

He was all about that suck-the-wind-out drum sound. For these songs I had more of a vision of spatial relationships. I remember for the demo for my song “6 More Weeks,” I said into my little recorder as I was falling asleep at night, “Phil Colllins beat,” then I was like “doot doot doot doot.” I thought of these heavy toms and then I said, “and then a full chorus of people singing this melody in a school gym.” I had this vision of a whole, but it didn’t turn out that way. It ended up just being me.

Did you record it in your apartment? I recorded it in Jorge Elbrecht’s apartment, who’s from Violens.

Do you write with images in mind? Not exactly. I think I write more connected to emotional places and things that me or my friends are going through. Weirdly with this EP—different from Au Revoir Simone songs that maybe were more thought through—a lot of these words just kind of came to me, and now a year after I wrote the songs, I’m realizing what they mean. They’re all messages from me to me, just little reminders or observations, but a lot of them didn’t necessarily make sense as I was writing them. I was just kind of like "Okay, this fits.”

How did you get involved with the Cascine? It's a really great label. It’s weird, I was a fan of [their band] Selebrities without really knowing it, because I had kept hearing this one song of theirs on the radio without knowing who they were, and I loved it. When I met Jeff, who runs Cascine, and talked about doing my EP on their label, he shared a lot of other music like Chad Valley and amazing electronic pop where none of it’s hyper or in your face, which I felt like really made sense for what I wanted to do. There’s just a really nice elegance and it just felt perfect, and he’s such a super sweet person.

I've heard you're a fan of Philip Glass. When I first moved to New York, I was working in this fashion show production company and the woman that I worked for had amazing taste in music, and she would put on Terry Riley and Philip Glass. I actually got to see Philip Glass play at the Apple Store a couple of years ago in SoHo. As soon as I started making music with keyboards, I realized the power of repetition. I'm drawn to really atmospheric music. One of my favorite bands has always been Broadcast, or Stereolab, and they both do a lot of repetition. There’s so much power in that stuff because as soon as the brain hears a melody, you follow it in a different way. It becomes familiar to you. It puts you in a trance. It just takes you out of the mental place and just puts you in a different place.

How did you decide to cover Eurythmics? I was working for a friend of mine and he had a Best of Eurythmics album. I love Annie Lennox. She’s just such a forceful powerhouse and I never thought that I could bring anything to one of her songs. She’s just such a force as a performer and I’m a little more reserved, but when I heard “When Tomorrow Comes” the words just got me. They’re just the most beautiful little tale of when you really love someone, and you're watching them sleep or just thinking about what they’re thinking about, and I just wanted to say them—I just wanted to say the words.

Interview: Erika Spring