Belgian indie-rock band Intergalactic Lovers dropped their long awaited third album Exhale in September and they are currently on the road to promote the hell out of it! During their recent stop in Amsterdam A Bit of Pop Music sat down with frontwoman Lara Chedraoui and drummer Brendan Corbey. They tell us all about working with producer Gil Norton (Foo Fighters, Pixies), their experiences in the ever changing music industry and how letting go of the past helps them to survive in life.
Did you guys have a plan when you started working on the third album Exhale?
Brendan: “We analysed what happened with the first two albums and where we wanted to go in terms of sound. We often received the feedback that we had a firmer sound in a live setting than on record, so we wanted to take that into account when in the studio. Working with Gil Norton as a producer really helped as he is used to working with bands that have a louder rock sound.”
How did you get him to be your producer?
Brendan: “We made a list of producers we would love to work with, with the idea that the sky is the limit. Unfortunately nobody of this list was either interested or within our budget. Then all of a sudden we received an email from one of the agencies we contacted and they told us Gil Norton wanted to do it! Because he actually chose us in that sense, we knew from the start he actually saw something in our music. It was not about the money and we weren’t just a little side project. He had the right mindset for us.”
Did it make you nervous to work with such a big producer?
Lara: “Absolutely, but he turned out to be the kind of guy you would like to hang out in a bar with. Thanks to his years and years of experience, he could easily tell when one of us was feeling insecure or nervous and he knew how to handle that. His people management is incredible.”
Can you still say ‘no’ when a producer with his status has an idea for a song you don’t really like?
Lara: “Yeah, that actually happened! Gil had a lot of ideas that we absolutely loved, but I remember one time he changed something in a chorus and all four of us knew that none of us liked it. He was super enthusiastic, which made it even harder to be honest about it. It was good to notice that he totally respected it when we told him we disagreed.”
Brendan: “The creation of an album is such an intense process. You’re in each other’s faces all the time, so discussions are totally normal. It is important though to move on soon instead of staying in these tense moments for too long. The next day you work on another part of another song so you have to let go of these situations. That is actually what the record is about as well!”
Tell me more about that!
Lara: “I felt more conscious about the unrest in the world when writing lyrics. For us it seems to hit closer to home now. I have never seen so many depressions, burn-outs and lost souls around me. This is probably an issue of all times, but because people seem to be more open about it, which is a good thing, you notice it more. At the same time I am way more aware of how time flies by. When you are a teenager you never realize how quick time passes, but once you get older, it seems to be getting more important. I feel like just standing still and letting go of things for a moment, could actually solve a whole lot of problems. People too often dwell on stuff that happened or decisions they made in the past. Neither while working in the studio, nor in life in general should you want to drag stuff from the past with you all the time. To put things in perspective is a good way to survive in life.”
That sounds inspired! Do you ever experience periods where there is no inspiration for new songs?
Lara: “I have had these moments, but because we write with the four of us, there is always one that has the spirit and helps the others get back on track. If you are a singer-songwriter or the only writer in a band, a writer’s block could be disastrous. To write with other people is also interesting, because you get many thoughts and influences. When you write with your best friends it can be really hard to shoot down an idea, so you will do everything to make it work. I would not want it any other way though. We’re blessed to be able to do this with the four of us.”
You have been around for a while. Do you feel it is harder to make it as a band these days?
Lara: “Ten years ago bands still made money from selling albums, while in this day and age you mainly earn your income with gigs. We don’t make things easy for ourselves as we want to tour internationally and not just stick to Belgium. Of course we have to invest to be able to do that. It is great to see it is actually paying off, for example in Germany. We started out with only a few people at our shows and play venues for hundreds of people now. We did not start a band to become rich though so it is all good! We are realistic enough to realize we need side projects in order to buy presents for our families and friends.
Brendan: “The changes in the past 15 years have been huge we haven’t seen the end of it. We experience two sides of it. On the one hand we are able to reach an international audience more easily through streaming, but at the same time, there is so much music to choose from! This is awesome, but it also makes it hard to stand. Our music might take a few listens to really click and streaming platforms made the consumption of music a quick experience. You don’t get a lot of time to impress your listeners which might be a disadvantage for us.”
Lara: “Streaming does give us new fans though, as we received a message from Mexico for example, asking us to play there. I wish we could actually do that, but it is so hard to know if there will actually be enough interest. It might be just one Mexican family that really likes our music, haha! Either way, it is flattering to see we have listeners from so many different places around the world!
Brendan: “We did perform in South-Africa recently and people in the first rows were all singing along. We couldn’t believe it! Those moments make it all worthwhile.”