words Zarah Cheng
In the thick of winter and Polar Vortexes, it is perhaps unsurprising that some of us are yearning for a reminder of what summer feels like. Well, thank God for Lemonade! The Brooklyn transplants, originally from San Francisco, are known for their infectious, summery pop songs that seem to overwhelm your senses with smells of warm ocean air and days spent lounging on the beach. Being the globetrotters that they are, the boys of Lemonade write songs inspired by their travelling and trust me, after you listen to their new album, "Minus Tide," you’ll also want to drop everything and embark on the most epic, wanderlusting, exotic beach town-visiting adventure of your life.
How did you guys come up with the band name, Lemonade?
There was little deliberation at the time; the suggestion of it amused us so we went with it. When applied to the noisy dance music we made, it felt unusual but now that we make summery pop it feels almost too appropriate sometimes.
The new album, Minus Tide, feels a lot lighter than Diver (2012), which had some pretty emotional songs on it. How did you guys approach writing this new album?
The first couple years of making music as Lemonade were committed to manifesting a certain psychic energy that was waiting to be channelled in San Francisco at the time. I didn't really start writing lyrics until we moved to New York and a lot of the writing was done during winter, much of it on subway platforms or on trains, so that natural claustrophobic introspection really weighed heavily into the song writing, as well as perhaps some personal stuff going on in my life at the time. Minus Tide was about channelling an energy again and less about me, more about us as Lemonade and a collective vision of euphoria and the renewing feeling of the ocean as opposed to the melancholic self-reflection I associated it with on the last record.
You guys have been touring with Yelle, which is so awesome. Is it different touring with a European band, in terms of the crowd and general approach to shows?
We haven't really done any serious tours with American bands. Delorean, John Talabot, Sebastien Tellier are all European. All the tours feel very different but I think it's us that changes from tour to tour more than the audiences.
I read that traveling inspires a lot of your songs. What sort of elements or emotions from traveling do you try to incorporate into Lemonade’s music?
Sometimes you are in a cab in a country listening to the radio or looking at hand painted signs or nightclub flyers or there is a sunset or something and you think to yourself, "This sounds like...." And then you go and make something quick on your computer to be further developed later. Beyond trying to capture a feeling, traveling can sort of awaken senses that had been dulled by New York as well as exposing you to new cultural experiences and even sounds or rhythmic structures. As an American, you learn about different qualities of life in other countries and less consumerist value systems, which can be very inspiring. It all sounds a bit naive to describe, and I kinda sound like a backpacker saying it, but we never really lose that feeling of wonder associated with exploring new places, and I think that we try and share that wonder with our music.
Favourite city you’ve played for?
Primavera like 5 or 6 years ago in Barcelona. Still our favorite show among so, so many wonderful ones.
There are a lot of references to water in your track names and even in your album titles. Where does this theme come from?
Perhaps it's because some of our fathers are surfers and we grew up at the beach, and now in New York we feel yearning and distant for it. Maybe it's because I am a cancer? It's just what I see when we write most of our melodies and I don't really have a filter when it comes to inspiration. I just have to let it guide me. It's nice that it keeps us consistent thematically though because musically, we can wander a bit.
Lemonade’s Wikipedia page says that the band “gained notoriety after moving to New York” and a lot of interviewers ask about your move from San Francisco to Brooklyn. Why has this become such a huge thing?
I suppose it's something concrete to talk about because music can be difficult to discuss with words. There are so many more journalists here in NY than in San Francisco, so maybe they saw us as outsiders or new arrivals when we first moved. I'd like to think it's because we sound like a San Francisco band living in New York seeming to lament the distance between us and California, because that suggests a narrative. And maybe we embody something very Californian, which I would be happy with as well
The music video for “Durutti Shores” captures the essence of Italian summers perfectly. How did you develop the concept for the video?
That was Oscar Boyson, the director. He had spent some time in Italy before making the video for us. When we had booked the flight a couple of weeks previous to the filming, he didn't really have much of a plan but by the time we got there, he had composed a loose vision. It was sort of a leap of faith on our part, I suppose, but we were very happy with the results and filming it was one of the best weekends I have ever had.
The hand gestures were a key part of the video. What do they all mean?
Sorry to disappoint but we don't really know! I know my gesture meant something similar to "for the love of God" and one of them meant like "I know what you did last summer" or something like that, but I forget which one that was. I know I could ask him, but I actually like not knowing because I think the mystery is really fun.
Favourite place to drink lemonade in Brooklyn?
The gated entrance to our loft. There is a motley collection of chairs and it's close to some trashcans but the people-watching is always entertaining and except for it being quasi-illegal, it is a great place to have a Campari with friends on a sunny day
What creeps you out the most?
Internet dating applications.