Million songs, a million dreams: l'ambient pop dei Cats On Trees - Intervista
È ormai dal 2007 che Nina Goern (voce e piano) e Yohan Hennequin (batteria), meglio noti come i Cats On Trees, ci propongono il loro inedito pop in solo duo piano-batteria; meno di un mese fa, con l'uscita del singolo "Please Please Please" il 22 giugno per Tôt Ou Tard / Believe, hanno confermato la loro unicità tanto sulla scena francese che sul panorama internazionale.
Quest'ultimo brano, vanta la produzione di Liam Howe, hitmaker britannico noto per collaborazioni con artisti come Lana Del Rey e Adele, e il mixaggio curato da Mark “Spike” Stent, che tra le varie produzioni annovera anche la vittoria di 5 Grammy con Madonna, Beyoncé, Muse, Frank Ocean e il più recente Ed Sheeran con ÷ (2018).
I due giovani hanno scelto quest'ultimo brano per anticipare il terzo album in studio in uscita per questo autunno. Ad oggi vantano tour di oltre 2 anni in Francia, due album usciti nel 2013 e 2018 (rispettivamente l'omonimo "Cats on trees" di esordio e a seguire "Neon") ed oltre 75 milioni di streaming sulle varie piattaforme.
La ricercatezza del suono proposta dai Cats On Trees, si traduce in particolari sonorità ambient che trascinano l'ascoltatore in un viaggio melodico fortemente sognante, e non a caso il ritornello del singolo "Please Please Please" esplode proprio nelle parole "million songs, a million dreams", evocativo per comprendere tanto il duo quanto lo stile che cercano di trasmettere (riuscendoci).
Tra i brani più apprezzati della band figura "Sirens Call", singolo che nel 2013 ha anticipato il loro album d'esordio; le vibes del brano, e il dolce candore della voce di Nina, ci trasportano immediatamente nelle visioni quasi fiabesche che il duo coltiva nell'immaginario collettivo.
The floating boat is carrying me And I can live my story differently The greedy sirens are chewing all around me While I sing oh whoa, oh whoa oh whoa On the falling shoals, I wonder why me? (da "Sirens Call")
Se da una parte in molti hanno ritrovato in loro la stessa energia degli storici ABBA, sarebbe impossibile ignorare la delicatezza di Nina affine a voci come quella di Dolores O'Riordan dei Cranberries o Elizabeth Fraser dei Cocteau Twins, con continui spunti affini all'odierno post-rock per quanto riguarda le strumentali.
Abbiamo avuto modo di parlare con loro del nuovo singolo, del work in progress sul nuovo album e soprattutto dell'importanza della musica nelle loro vite.
Hi guys and welcome to IndieVision! On June 22st was released your new single "Please Please Please", produced by Liam Howe (British producer who collaborated with Lana Del Ray, Marina and the Diamonds and Adele) and mixed by Mark "Spike" Stent (Ed Sheeran , Bjork, Muse). How did this collaboration come to happen? Are you excited about the release of the new song? Hey indevision, we are so pleased to have worked with them on these songs. We were looking for a producer who was really willing to work with us too and Liam how seemed to be the right person for that, because he was really into the demos we sent him. He had a vision for us he pictures us as those great European bands like The Cardigans. We had a lovely time recording everything in our home with the piano of the living room and there were my drum kit and a few microphones. It was a pleasure to record like that we were together cooking some food for each other,And we didn’t really feel that we were doing something serious.We were just happy to create music together and we are really pleased about what Liam how and spike added to our music they gave it another level and now we are really really proud of it and so excited to share it with everybody. The title makes me think of "Please Please Please, Let Me Get What I Want" by The Smiths, a song from 1984's "Hatful of Hallow". This dreamy atmosphere, despite the different themes you talk about, reminds me of your song. As well as with "Please Please Me" by the Beatles, did you make this analogy on purpose? Where did the idea come from? We love The Smiths and their legacy is endless. We really hope secretly they get along with Johnny Marr and Morissey and reform the band. I’ve been playing the Beatles songs everyday to improve my piano and guitar playing and singing. It s an endless source of joy and the best way to learn a new instrument. Of course when we finded the words for the chorus we knew we weren’t the first one to use these words but that s what felt good and natural for the song so we kept it as it is . We are really attached to this text, the meaning of it, the feeling of acceptance that helps you get through your relationship. You realise that you have to let you be yourself with all your imperfections because that’s what makes you unique and good.
The song is about accepting the people you love as they are, and there could be no declaration more beautiful and complete. The explosion of sounds and instruments in the chorus gives the listener a kind of "certainty of being safe", in the arms of the loved one. It's a really beautiful and powerful track. Listening to songs by other artists, have you ever thought of any song "wow, it's so good that I wanted to write it myself"? Thank you it is great to see that the message of the song finds an echo in people's hearts and minds. I think what we’ve been through as human beings during this weird period was something that made us really look at who we are and I’m sure lots of people had to make an extra effort to live with themselves and the person that they were next to being with their families and loved ones. For so long. It made us realise as a band that we are better letting everything breathe and we enjoy life a lot more, when we come back to writing music it is so much better. Music in general moves me; it can be anything. With the two of us combined I think we listen to pretty much everything. But I remember we were both at a concert of the band Sigur Ros and at one time we turned our heads at each other and we were both finding ourselves crying all the tears of our heart. Music is so important in our life. I think it's an art of life from the moment I wake up, when I take my shower, when I eat. When I'm on Holiday on the beach I alway have a guitar. It's all music in my head. I even have a ukulele in my bathroom so I can sing and record idea everywhere.
Like M83, Papooz, Daft Punk and other French artists, you chose the English language for your songs. Why? We chose English for the majority of our songs because since we were little children passionate about music we were mainly listening to English speaking bands, but we love more and more some French artist singing in French old ones, new ones ones like Daho, and we've been writing a few songs in French and we really dig it. So we are really open to anything but we just want to go on with the melodies and do the best songs we can. So if a song comes naturally in English in the middle of the melody and it feels good we go on with it.
Your indie pop is characterized by ambient sounds that make your songs truly original and unique. Are there any artists who have inspired you? We love classical music like Arvo, the music of Ennio Morricone and all the great music that has been made for movies. It's a great thing for us to find melodies that makes you dream and makes you think of some beautiful images. We love to compose music that you can relate to, songs that carry you through a journey. We need you to get in touch with your emotions and we dig deep into our life's to give our songs meaning. If each one of you had to choose an artist to collaborate with, who would you choose? And why? I know Nina would love to collaborate with Tory Amos 'cause she has been loving her for all her life. l personally would love to make an album with Aron Dessner from "The National", because they are my favourite band ever. And I love the work he has done with Bon Iver on the "Big Red Machine" project.
After the success of the homonymous "Cats On Trees" (2015), the debut album that introduced you to the general public with the single "Siren Call", and "Neon" (2018), in October will be released your third studio album. What can we expect from this new job? As we are talking now we are still in the process of making it, we haven't finished yet but we are so proud of what we have done. It's our best songs and we feel it's very intimate and close to us and our emotions. Each song is a universe of its own. And we are so looking forward to share them with everyone.
During your live shows, you have often played the cover of "Love You Like a Love Song" by Selena Gomez, also recorded in your first album. Do you have other covers planned for the new album? No for now it's just our song. But we've been working on some stuff. You'll see!