ALASKALASKA put personal and societal challenges under a microscope: “The record is like a bunch of diary entries”

Lucinda Duarte-Holman and Fraser Rieley tell us more.

ALASKALASKA put personal and societal challenges under a microscope of off-kilter pop for a charming debut. Lucinda Duarte-Holman and Fraser Rieley tell us more.

Congrats on finishing your debut album, has it been a long time in the works?
Thank you! It depends, the writing period has been spread over the last year or so – workshopping and playing some of the tracks live, but the actual recording process was quite short. Fraser did a couple of weeks pre-production at home before heading to the studio. After that, we spent two and a half weeks actually recording everything, so it was a pretty quick turn over actually. I’m amazed we managed to get it all done and still sounding the way we wanted it to.

How did you go about lining up a record deal? Was there lots of ‘meetings’ and ‘networking’ involved?
Lots of things fell in to place. Not loads of networking, fortunately, but that’s a part of trying to get into any industry I suppose. When we started out we spent a long time playing together and just enjoying our music for ourselves, so when we started gigging we felt good about what we were doing, and our live shows helped draw people’s attention I think. Then we gathered a good team of people around us who helped push us and make things happen.

How did you know when the album was finally finished?
We gave ourselves a pretty strict deadline, otherwise I’d find it hard to stop. For a lot of the tracks we had firm initial ideas on how they were going to sound, but things change, you get better ideas, some things don’t work out as planned, then hopefully you reach a happy place where you’ve created something that both satisfies what you always wanted to hear, and gives you something exciting and special. Usually, there’s a voice in the back of my head telling me something is wrong, or something is missing, so when that goes away, I’m okay with it.
It kinda happens in stages. The point where everyone sits back to listen to what we’ve done and nobody feels like there’s something missing, but then getting the mixes and then the masters back are also big tick boxes when it comes to the finish line. Getting everything back properly mixed is really exciting- it’s like it gets a new lease of life breathed into it. Then you can just about put your feet up.

“A theme of identity politics runs throughout”

Did you go through many iterations of what you wanted the record to be, or say about you?
There were a couple of conceptual ideas that were discussed at the beginning- a means of writing more but, essentially the record is like a bunch of diary entries. Lyrically there is a theme of identity politics that runs throughout – a subject I find especially fascinating. Musically, I think we were all under the impression that we wanted to record something that had a real live element to it. We love using synths and electronic drums, but it was really important to us that you could hear the real instruments too.
We tried out different studios and collaborators too, but nothing quite felt like ‘us’ until we chose to work from home demos and did it ourselves, with Tom Carmichael with us too. Having the freedom to experiment and push ourselves, and each other, made a huge difference.

Do you have a favourite track on the album?
I really like ‘Bees’. I like what it’s about, and I like playing it. It’s got swag. I also really like the last track on the album ‘Skin’.
Maybe ‘Heaven’, there’s a lot to get your head around in there.

You’ve said before that you enjoy your music being a little rough around the edges, what it is about that kind of sound that appeals to you?
It makes it human. It’s genuine.

What’s the most complimentary thing someone could say about ‘The Dots’?
That it’s the most important popular cultural phenomenon since the ice bucket challenge. Also, I just want people to feel good when they hear it, maybe want to keep on listening to it, and feel like they get something new from it every time they do.

Do you have a big summer coming up? Lots of festivals and stuff?
A few things lined up, but we’ll have to see what happens in the next few months. We’d love to do ’em all if we could, and hopefully, we’ll be touring more after summer too.

Anything else we should know?
Don’t feed bread to ducks, it’s bad for them and for pond ecosystems.

Taken from the May issue of Dork. ALASKALASKA’s debut album ‘The Dots’ is out 3rd May.

Words: Sam Taylor

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