It's the Factory Bathtub time with Alley, Benjamin and Claudia!
"I have revealed something I've never revealed to anyone before!" Alley squints her eyes excitedly. "Benjamin's most scandalous answer yet" is the subject line of an email to us, meanwhile Claudia moans, "I don't know how to do this!" School of Seven Bells insists on doing this interview a little unorthodoxly and take it Jeopardy! style by leaving us answers with questions to be filled in later on, by us. Let's see how well we do. Looks like "Is this your way of getting back at us boring journalists then?" would be our starting point. Are we warm yet?
SS: You've had other members in the band before, now that there's just the three of you. Does that work better this way?
Benjamin Curtis (guitar): You guessed it! We really tried, but it just wasn't that way. Alley and Claudia are really incredible musicians, and I'm very intimidated! Honestly, I've learned so much since we started playing music together, and I wouldn't trade that for anything.
SS: You're quite achieved musicians, but what was the first song you've ever written like?
Alley Deheza (vocals, guitar): It was a country/folk song! Ha! I was like in 4th grade. It was a song called 'The Meadowlark' - so funny. I've never seen a meadowlark, but it just seemed like a very sad, very poetic bird :) This song was an ode to the plight of the bird. I think I looked it up in the encyclopedia! It had two verses and a chorus. One day I'm gonna record it. I still remember it, but I can't get through it without falling down laughing.
SS: What first inspired you to pick up an instrument and what was that instrument?
Claudia Deheza (vocals, keyboard): Ever since we were little. Our parents always had instruments around the house for us... Even a cart full of traditional Bolivian Indian instruments. Our favorite for years, however, was a little organ. We used to write songs and record them using 2 tape recorders so we could bounce the tracks back and forth. Then later on, my parents enrolled us in band where Alley was classically trained in flute, and I in French horn.
SS: Your songs puts people in dreamlike state, would you say that dreams dictate the way you make music?
Alley: I think it's been a huge influence on the writing, but it started out as a way to get out of nightmares when I was a little kid. The first technique I figured out was to curl up into a ball and squeeze really tight. When I straightened up again, I'd be in another dream. Over a few years that eventually turned into me just manifesting objects or situations simply as they occurred to me.
SS: That sounds so abstract!
Alley: I don't think it's very abstract at all. I'm very much a realist. That is the way things look to me. Thought don't come to you as complete sentences or in paragraph form. They come in images.
SS: Do you treat song-writing as a builder does a house?
Claudia: Every song is built differently. Any one of of can brings something to the table and the other two can throw whatever inspires them into the pot. I dont know how you could do it any other way and remain excited about the whole creative process. Sticking to a specific formula when writing songs can fly for one record if you're lucky but everything after that.. the jig is up... you're in the one-trick pony pile.
SS: What five words come to mind when you think of Alpinisms?
Benjamin: Hmmm, I've never thought about that. I guess I'd say (in no particular order), Red, Icey, Warmth, Clear and Saturated. Does that make sense?
SS: Would the song 'Prince of Peace' by any chance have anything to do with the male version of The Princess And The Pea story?
Claudia: That's a secret (laughs).
SS: Fine. Next. Benjamin, we heard you've just watched the film In and Out. Have you ever kissed a man?
Benjamin: Yes, once a long time ago. His name was T****, we'll just call him T. It was at a make-out party. Like an actual "let's have a make-out party" party. I think he was hoping we'd make it on TV, since there was a camera crew there filming for some show, but I don't think the camera was even pointed in our direction. Oh well! That might've been my big break! It didn't really seem like a big deal at the time. Overall I'd say my male friends and I are pretty affectionate. I seem to get along better with people who are more comfortable with their sexuality. I mean, at this point in my life my straightness is no mystery. I've got a few friends or family members that are beyond uptight in that respect, and it's just weird to me. There you go! ! ! !
SS: Your songs are stories of characters, could you explain one of them? How about 'My Cabal'?
Alley: 'My Cabal' is a story about two characters, Cabal and Camarilla. Cabal is the alpinist. He isn't ruled by emotions, by fear. He is starved for a connection with the moment. He is addicted to the moment. He can only sleep dangling on the edge of the mountain, so to speak. "He sleeps outside". Camarilla is the poet. She is her past. She IS her emotions. She is bound to them, comforted by them, and terrified by them. Both are lifted up and crippled by these compulsions they have. The song is a response to a letter she's received from him. It almost seems like a love story between the two. It's strange. But they're just two faces, two facets of one prismatic identity. We all have those two somewhere within us.
SS: What's spinning in the School of Seven Bells?
Claudia: Currently, And the Waters Opened by Between and Dream Weaver by Gary Wright.
SS: Do you feel like you're living the ultimate male fantasy now that you're in a band with two hot twins?
Benjamin: It's funny you should ask that, but no! (laughs)
SS: The album has quite otherworldly feel to it but still accessible, and you've spent quite a while working on it. Would you say it's how you've always intended for it to be?
Benjamin: That's an interesting question. Actually, I would put it slightly differently and say that Alpinisms is really the sound of the three of us working together. We have so much fun doing it, and the result is always a surprise to each of us in that it always ends up somewhere unexpected!
SS: Has anyone ever said you guys make music that appeal to sea creatures?
Benjamin: I can't believe you'd ask us that! What do you mean?
SS: Well, it feels like we're floating along something while listening to it, but it's not as light as in the air so we imagine it's some kind of stream in the wild.
Benjamin: Oh, I see! It's true that we're very unique in that respect. Thanks!
From left to right: Alley wears multicolour chiffon top by Cacharel, red white blue stripe show skirt and yellow leather circle high hells by Eley Kishimoto, and socks by Kokontozai; Benjamin wears paisley/light blue shirt by Satyenkumar; Claudia wears red and white print chair print skirt, socks by Kokontozai and matching shoes by Avsh Alom Gur.
Photography: Krittiya Sriyabhandha