The Raveonettes: “We Write For Our Own Pleasure And We Have To Stay True To Ourselves And Our Soul”

Sune Rose Wagner, half of the Danish duo, answers our questions on the occasion of the release of their new album, “Observator”

We speak with the guitarist and vocalist of the Scandinavian duo so that she can talk to us about what living in the United States gives her, her three favourite films, the need to “recharge and revolt” and the Scandinavian character.

The Raveonettes have always been there. When you need to disconnect and call upon songs that are apparently simple, direct fuzz-pop songs, their long list of recordings (yes, it’s hard to believe that they’ve already been with us for ten years) have become an indispensable ally. They will probably never become the band of your life, but few groups in their area can boast of a decade-long career that has been as steady as theirs, without ups and downs, always with notable works. “In And Out Of Control” - which could be said to be their best, most immediate work - was close to becoming a turning point, a catalyst for turning them into a group for the masses (several songs from it were played on that showcase that is “Gossip Girl”), but then the Danish twosome decided to go off on a tangent and release a darker album than usual, “Raven In The Grave”, in which slower songs were favoured over pop pills.

Now they have just released “Observator” onto the market, their second album in just over a year, and that’s not counting “Rarities / B-Sides” (an album of rarities and B-sides), and the EP “Into The Night”. One could honestly say that they are at a creative peak. The album was recorded partly in Los Angeles, where Sharin Foo lives and where Sune Rose Wagner sought inspiration after a rough bout of depression marked by a back injury. We sent Sune some questions to ask her about living in the United States, her relationship with producer Richard Gottehrer, her three favourite films, the need to “recharge and revolt”, and the Scandinavian character.

Do you think that being in Los Angeles influenced the sound of the record or was it more your mood in general?

Los Angeles had a lot to do with it, for sure, and also my mood, of course. I started The Raveonettes in Los Angeles, so it’s an important city for me.

Did your producing Dum Dum Girls’ “Only In Dreams” with Richard Gottehrer have anything to do with asking him to produce your album again?

We started working with Richard already back in 2002 and he’s been my best friend ever since, so it’s nice to get to work with him again. He also did our 2005 album “ Pretty In Black”.

How was it different from the last time?

We know each other better now and have more fun.

You spent little time in the studio with “Obsevator”, only seven days. Why did you prefer to move most of the production process outside of this environment? What advantages do you find to working at home or wherever you feel most comfortable?

I like the home environment for writing and general things such as coming up with different sounds, but I love to be in the studio to record vocals and really listen to the songs and get ideas for arrangement.

You’ve released two records and an EP (plus a rarities album) in little more than a year. Do you think you are at a creative peak?

I think so… [laughs]

When did you decide to use piano? Was there some sort of epiphany in that sense?

I wrote the entire album on the piano, so it’s only natural to use it somehow, and the song “ Observations” was really perfect for it.

Young And Cold” is not exactly a folk track, but there is this vibe there, which makes it quite unusual for your discography, but really pleasant. How did you come up with it?

It’s the only song written at Sunset Sound. I felt we needed just one more song for the album that was a little different.

You’ve always had a certain fascination for dark sounds, but “Raven In The Grave” was all darkness. I find it your best and boldest album. Why did you decide to go for that after a record that was more about direct fuzz-pop songs and hugely successful?

Whatever I feel like doing in the moment of song-writing is what I’ll go for. I never know where it’s gonna end up or what mood I’ll be in; I just go for it and see what happens.

Were you afraid that at some point you would lose fans, although this hasn’t really happened?

I’m always afraid of losing fans [laughs]. But I write for my own pleasure and I have to stay true to myself and my soul. You’ve gotta believe in yourself.

There are less dark and shady themes in your lyrics in “Observations”, which I find quite interesting, because they made a really nice contrast with the brighter music in records such as “In And Out Of Control”. Was this some sort of conscious decision, to stick with the contrasts, not making both the music and the lyrics dark, or have you had enough of talking about drugs, suicide and rape?

Again, it’s whatever happens in the moment and what I feel like. I don’t over-think it, it has to make sense to me and then I’m sure it’ll make sense to many more people. People interpret the tunes in many different ways and that’s totally cool with me, that’s how it should be.

What would you say the United States has given you in terms of experiences and influences?

A broader understanding of life. I think everybody should travel; it’s good for the soul.

What are the ups and downs of living in different cities so far away from each other?

Personal issues, but I’m moving to LA in November, so it’ll all be good J

You live in New York, Sharin lives in Los Angeles. At first you first wanted this to be your L.A. Record. But in your recent interviews you say it has more of a Scandinavian sound. What would that be, as opposed to NY or LA?

There’s a bleakness and hopelessness and emptiness that’s very Scandinavian, and I love that. A sort of pessimistic take on life. I think it’s quite charming actually.

Linking up with this last question, we asked WhoMadeWho about this study in Denmark that said you were the happiest people on Earth. They pointed out that you have a huge number of suicides per year and people always need more and live with a lot of stress. Do you feel the same?

I haven’t lived in Denmark for 12 years, so don’t really know, but I was quite restless and miserable there at times.

I know “Recharge & Revolt” is not about social revolution, but living in the US, especially you in New York, how have you experienced the whole Occupy movement? Do you think there really is a need to recharge and revolt against the system?

I think people need to rise up for what they believe in, yes. I think change is good and necessary to maintain a healthy environment.

I’ve read Sharin is a big Fleetwood Mac fan. What do you think makes this band so special and why do so many groups, now more than ever, cite them as an influence?

We both love that band. Great songs! It’s all about the songs!

You always say your music has a cinematic vibe. Could you name your three essential movies and why you’ve chosen them?

“Twin Peaks” TV series, the best series ever, ‘cause it’s the perfect blend of old and new. “Vertigo” by Hitchcock, visually stunning and deadly romantic. “Endless Summer” the Bruce Brown documentary, history in the making and amazing footage and music.

How did you get to meet the nice, crazy dancer featured in the “ She Owns The Streets” video?

Through a friend of mine at a Black Keys show. Took her to lunch the next day and she danced in the street for me. I loved it.

In your last shows, you’ve only used a drummer as an extra band member. Why did you decide to go for less when often lots of groups go for a larger backing band? How does that change your live act?

We like it simple and easy. It’s the best way for us right now, but maybe next time we’ll be five or six people, who knows?

One of the songs that you almost always play is “ Attack Of The Ghost Riders”, from your debut EP. This is unusual with many bands, who try to focus on their newest material. What would say is the record you feel proudest of after ten years?

I love all our albums! I have no preferences really, I’m very proud of what we’ve achieved.

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