Have you always been a songwriter?
I started writing songs for the first time when I was about 16.
Have you always played music?
Yeah, I’ve never received any formal piano training but there was always a piano in my house and I first learned to play piano by trying to bang out Disney songs that I watched when I was little, like seven or eight years old. I learned how to play them all in the key of C and I’m still pretty handicapped because I can only really play in the key of C. And being a synth player, you’re really allowed to cheat because you can transpose anything you want and I never became a good keyboardist but managed to get away with it.
Did music take a backseat when you were in art school?
I was always obsessed with music the whole time I was in art school, and I’m actually really glad I didn’t study music because I think it would have made me think about it too formally. Not to discount anyone who did study music, but I’m really glad I didn’t. Our first record came out while I was in school actually.
Do you think you’re an audio or visual person?
They’re both so similar to me, I couldn’t choose. One of the coolest things about pop music to me is the visual. The world of classical music has really cut out the visual aspect. Even a lot of the hard electronic music doesn’t really have a corresponding visual, but with pop you suddenly have characters and narratives and real visual aesthetics and I remember being in elementary school and seeing like TLC and Madonna on MTV and being so blown away by the visuals.
Is it true that you started out making music for haunted houses?
Yeah, we were really obsessed with David Lynch and how he used really static music in really scary scenes. So if there was something really terrifying happening, there would be a beautiful major chord hovering in the background and we decided that was much scarier than normal tremor of a violin, or when the jumps of sounds come out and scare you. We got the idea of making static, ambient soundtracks for haunted houses but we totally failed at those missions and started writing songs. These pieces turned into songs.
Do you believe in the spiritual realm of ghosts and haunted houses?
I think I am kind of a spiritual person but definitely not a religious person, I don’t really believe in ghosts or even an afterlife. I think it’s much scarier to not believe in ghosts or an afterlife. I mean in real life, you only have a certain amount of time.
What’s next for Chairlift?
We’re taking a breath of fresh air right now because we’ve been out now since about November. And now we’re back at home for a second. Patrick just got married which was the most beautiful wedding imaginable. So he’s settling in a little bit, spending some time at home and we’re about to shoot a new music video. We’re kind of rethinking our live set a little bit to take us through the rest of the year.
Will you be bringing your new live show to Parklife in September?
Yeah, definitely. It’s definitely going to be different from the Laneway shows that we played, and hopefully we’ll have some new songs as well because we’ve been writing a lot lately.
Do you have to be in a certain mood to write?
If it comes to me, it makes me in the mood to write. Actually, its quite inconvenient, sometimes it’s like getting your period and you’re like, “Oh, damn, this idea came to me now? Now I have to go outside and around the corner and write these lyrics down.” The worst is being surrounded by people and having very personal ideas, but I have become pretty shameless lately about working on music in front of other people. I’ve opened myself up to the idea of being okay to do that. You don’t have to filter yourself, you just have to filter what you show.
What kind of music do you listen to?
It’s constantly changing. For the last few years I’ve been listening to mostly older music, stuff between the ‘60s and ‘90s, but all of a sudden in the last couple of months. The last few weeks I’ve been listening to the new Frank Ocean record, and I really like the kinds of bands that are doing super crushed, digital spiritual stuff. I think that’s really exciting and futuristic.
You’ve done a lot of collaborations lately, and Girl Crisis has been around for a little while, is it strange to write music with people other than Patrick?
The music with Girl Crisis comes pretty naturally; we’re all good friends. It is really interesting actually, that’s kind of my favourite reason to collaborate with anyone is to kind of feel what it’s like working with a different person. It’s not strange, the only thing that’s hard to do is temper my own instincts to be controlling. I think the less I know someone the more shy I am anyway. The people I know really well I have to watch out that I don’t become too domineering.
Chairlift will be playing Parklife. www.parklife.com
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