While Culture Collide Festival provides an introduction to Los Angeles for many a newly-formed international act that takes its stages, it was veteran artists and Danish-duo-turned-L.A.-locals The Raveonettes who decidedly concluded this year’s fest, with a raucous midnight set on the Red Bull Sound Stage.
Sharin Foo and Sune Rose Wagner have an eclectic twelve-year discography wrought from a highly contemplative process. Their most recent album, 2012’s Observator, has been described by Wagner as “sumptuous and beautiful in its sound, but bleak and sad at its heart. It’s like a heavenly dream that you slowly realize is actually taking place in hell.”
We got a chance to catch them backstage at Echoplex hours before their set as the finale of Culture Collide.
MIP: There’s been a lot of talk surrounding this festival about the significance of it being in L.A. and what that means for many of these newer bands to be playing here for the first time. Was there significance for you as artists performing in L.A. for the first time? Do you remember what it was like?
Sune: [Laughs] It was great.
Sharin: We played at The Troubadour and we were the first of four bands. I remember they were so rude to us; they kicked us out right after we played. They just kicked us out of the side door and we were just out there! But LA has a meaning to us, especially since we both live here now. Even before we lived here, there are a lot of songs from our first album inspired by us being here for a period of time. So I think there’s a lot of L.A. ingrained in the sound of The Raveonettes. And this is the first time we’ve played in Echoplex, so it’s about time, I’d say!
MIP: Since your music might be new to some readers of MusicInPress, how would you describe it and your influences? It’s so hard to pin down in one way or another album to album.
Sharin: [Laughs] I’ll let Sune elaborate on that.
Sune: It’s basically just rock and roll. It has influences from the 50’s, 60’s, 70’, 80’s – not 90’s, though. And yeah, we just do a lot of different albums, you know? We never do the same album. It’s nice.
Sune: They haven’t really changed. It has always been the same. The only thing that changes is you, where you’re at in your life when you make an album. My influences have always stayed pretty much the same, I would say.
Sharin: It’s more about where you are in that moment and elaborating on that.
MIP: For each of you, what is your creative process like and how do you come together as a pair to create a song or an album?
Sune: I just sit at home and write songs or ideas and then I call up Sharin when I have something and she comes over or I’ll send her some stuff and we’ll discuss and figure out what we like and we’ll keep working on the stuff that we like.
Sharin: Sune’s a prolific song writer, he writes a lot of stuff, so it’s very much about finding things that speak to the both of us.
MIP: Again for the both of you, why do you make music? What makes music the medium that you want to capture and convey ideas in? What about it appeals to you?
Sune: I think it’s a great art form. You know, it just has everything, it conveys emotions very well. I got a drum kit when I was five years old and it’s the only thing I know, really, in terms of how to express myself truly. That’s all I can say, really. And it sounds nice! [Laughs]
Sharin: [Laughs] Some of it!
Sune: Yes, some of it does sound nice.
Sune: Well, that’s it, you know, finishing that stuff [laughs]. But it’s not like we’re in a big hurry, you know. We’re just taking our time to ensure it turns out really well. It’ll come out early-ish next year.
MIP: Do you know yet what form it’s going to take?
Sune: No; we have some ideas, we have some songs that we really like. We know a little about what we like and what we don’t like. We’re at a pretty advanced level with the album, now it’s just a matter of writing more songs and experimenting a little bit more with what we have and see where we can take it.
MIP: So when you’re performing for an audience, what kind of experience are you hoping to create? What can we expect tonight?
Sune: Well, tonight we’re going to do a bit of a noisier set. Because it is a festival and it’s Saturday and we play at midnight, and I’m sure people will be slightly inebriated at that time. And they just want to have fun, you know? It’s a fun crowd to play to. So, we’re not gonna get deep. Tonight is a great rock and roll show!
Sharin: Sometimes we do more introverted sets. All of our albums are different, we have a lot of very different songs and it’s important to acknowledge that difference. So it just kind of depends what mood we’re in. Making us happy, making people happy, making it a happy night, or a sad night or a deep night or whatever. It’s about playing whatever we want to play no matter what it is.
MIP: Thank you so much for your time. Looking forward to a great rock and roll show tonight!
Both: Thank you!
Delivered as promised, the final bang with which 2013’s Culture Collide went out with was a loud one. Starting strong with “You Say You Lie,” the night accelerated onwards through colored strobe lights, breathy, urgently whispered lyrics and beats that vibrated the soles of the crowd that had jam-packed the floor of the Echoplex. It was, quite simply, a great rock and roll show.