With its remarkable and technical sound ingenuity, with its clear and strong female singing that could remind of Bel Canto's Anneli Drecker's voice, « Forever Counting Sheep », Pocket Knife Army's second LP which was released in March this year is far from being removed from our speakers. The record manages a true tour de force with an absolute electronic music filled up with the energy and attitude of rock, composed and played by two masterminds of aural production to whom we asked our questions to an interview where Kate Bush, Radiohead and a stay in Auvergne are being discussed amongst other things.
Desirée, Erwin, can you tell us where both of you come from, whether this is your first band, how you met?
We studied at the Conservatory together. We were both in the same rock band, and we always had a plan to do an electronic project, and when our band disbanded we just went for it. With our combined love for rock music, electronic music and experimenting with compositions and sounds, we knew we had to do a project together someday and it turned out to be Pocket Knife Army.
It has to be a full time job on its own being self-produced and self-promoted? How do you deal with that, assuming that both of you actually have daily jobs too?
Nowadays artists are expected to do everything themselves, to make music but also be an entrepreneur at the same time. We like to be in control of everything, but sometimes when we look back on all the things we did in one week we discover that most of our time was spent promoting our music and answering emails, instead of picking up an instrument and play. That’s too bad, but we hope that in the future we can outsource some of those tasks to have some more time to make music.
By the way, have you been approached by some labels who listened to "Forever Counting Sheep" and would be interested for the next records?
Not yet, actually. But we’re open for suggestions!
« Someone said it sounds a bit like Kate Bush while someone else compared it to Depeche Mode. We never try to sound like another artist. It’s just what we love to make. »
Somehow when I try to explain your music which is quite complex, I think of an even more electronic version of the band Bel Canto who'd signed to Ant-Zen and who would show the energy and the attitude of a full five piece rock band. How would you describe it yourself?
That’s funny because we use the comparison with a rock band as well. We mostly say something like “The mean, electronic brother of Radiohead”. The most important thing for us is that we are mostly a live band, in contrary to a studio project. The songs are made to be played live, that’s our main focus. But we actually like the fact that everyone has it’s own interpretation of our music and feels it in a different way. Someone said it sounds a bit like Kate Bush while someone else compared it to Depeche Mode. We never try to sound like another artist. It’s just what we love to make.
The structure of your songs makes me think of the way The Boo Radleys used to craft their own songs : as if they were first written in a conventional manner, then torn apart and finally reassembled in an unconventional way. Is it actually how you build your songs?
Actually, it is, sort of. Most of our songs are written on the piano or guitar, with the lyrics as a starting point. We work on the song until it really works, and after that we start tweaking the synths and experimenting with the arrangement. We do it like this to make sure that the song works on it’s own, even without the electronic craziness. And, like we said before, being able to perform it live is a major thing for us. So that kind of steers you in a certain direction as well. But sometimes we want to step out of our writing comfort zone and try new methods, though most of the time we return to the piano anyway to finish the song.
What are the artists that helped to shape your very own sound?
Our influences are mostly non-electronic, actually. We really love Jeff Buckley, Jack White and Queens of the Stone Age, but we listen to Talking Heads and Radiohead as well, and Joanna Newsom.
Talking of other artists' music, are there any recent records that you have been enjoying listening to?
We don’t really listen to a lot of music when we’re in the middle of creating stuff. Besides that we also have a bit of an old-fashioned taste, as you can see in the answers of our previous question. But still, that last Benjamin Clementine record is fantastic. Same goes the last Fever Ray record (we never expected she’d release a second record).
« We’ve had wildly dancing people in the audience, we never thought our music to be danceable at all, haha. »
You toured almost exclusively in the Netherlands for the first album. But this year you did tour outside of your own country though with "Forever Counting Sheep", with dates in Poland, Germany, Latvia, Estonia. What made you aware that your music was getting a wider audience and that shows outside of your own country were becoming a true option now?
We just did it, without any reassurance that it would work. But it went really well thusfar. We’ve played at the Tallinn Music Week as well, which was quite a success. We’ve had wildly dancing people in the audience, we never thought our music to be danceable at all, haha.
What are the plans in the near future for Pocket Knife Army? Are there Plans for another leg of the tour which would come to France?
Well, we’d love to go to France, we probably will! On a side note, we wrote quite a few songs in a little house on a hill in the Auvergne, so France definitely deserves a visit for some shows, as it was so important for giving us the inspiration to write the songs for ‘Forever Counting Sheep’.
Is there anything that you thought wasn't even a dream in 2014 and which might actually come true sooner or later for Pocket Knife Army?
We’ll probably do some smaller tours in Europe for the coming time, but a full-blown world tour, crossing all the cool cities and venues is still a few dreams away, but we’re getting there, sooner or later. :)