Tunes: Braids

Braids is an art rock band from Calgary, Alberta. Currently based in Montreal, the band is comprised of members Raphaelle Standell-Preston, Austin Tufts and Taylor Smith. They’re playing a set next Thursday, 9/24 at Subterranean in Chicago.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. I’m Raphaelle, I sing, write lyrics and play guitar/electronics in the band Braids.

Top 3 favorite or most visited websites and why? Hmmmmmmmmmmm.
1. Google.com – Cause it has my e-mail and can spy on me at all times…..
I always find it funny when someone uses hotmail or yahoo for e-mail, there is usually the precursor before someone gives you their hotmail e-mail, ‘I know I have hotmail, but I just never changed it.’ I use Google for too many things, and have started looking into independent e-mail accounts that don’t sell your information. I don’t think we realize how much we actually give away.
2. Probably Twitter.com – I use Twitter to keep up to date on what is going on in the world, if you follow the right people/organizations it can be the most informative source on the web, or at least a good starting point for finding out what’s up. It shows what the people care about, and not what the media or government decides to release. I also use twitter to report on useless enjoyable things like ‘this dog is cute, or this dog is cuter’.
3. Reset.me – Reset.me reminds us of our animal roots, and offers ways in which we can return to those fundamental callings through natural medicinal means, whether it be through herbal remedies or psychedelic pursuits.

How has living in Montreal affected your music? To be honest we live out of suitcases more than we live at home, like WAY more… but we still have apartments in Montreal. Living in Montreal has been extremely formative for our music. When we first moved from Calgary, Alberta to Montreal in 2009 we became involved with a very vibrant and exciting community that over the years, morphed into our record label, Arbutus Records. The scene was extremely supportive, very experimental and challenging. We would be a completely different band without the Montreal music scene.

How long have you lived in Montreal and what brought you there? We’ve lived there for about six years. For the boys, university brought them there, which they later left shy of a degree. I came to Montreal for the art scene and because I wanted to keep Braids going.

What kinds of things are influencing your music right now? We’re not currently writing music and instead performing a lot. So in terms of influence for performance — meditation has a big impact of how I feel on stage. I feel much more open and able to share with people.

What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? We are going to begin recording an EP that we may or may not release this coming January. It depends on if we connect with it deeply and if it lends itself to being a good companion for Deep In The Iris. I’m excited to fiddle around with some of the tracks we didn’t put on the record.

We’re also learning how to properly DJ. It’s about time ! We listen mainly to electronic music !

How did your interest in music begin? Playing clarinet, and experiencing massive amounts of goosebumps sitting in front of the horn / percussion sections in grade eight. Austin, the drummer in Braids, was in the percussion section and we quickly became best friends.

What other musicians are you interested in right now? Jenny Hval. She has an incredible voice and extremely unabashed confrontational lyrics that I love. I like that she can make me feel slightly uneasy as I’m usually the one to cause that uncomfortable vulnerability in people. Sufjan Stevens – His newest record is an absolute masterpiece, and I really don’t use that word lightly. You should absolutely buy Carrie & Lowell. It’s one of my favourite records of all time. Nathan Fake – I can’t stop listening to his song Paean. I saw him live in Osaka about a month ago and have been addicted to his music since.

 

Most embarrassing moment on stage? Walking on stage with toilet paper stuck to my shoe and having someone yell to me from the crowd that there is toilet paper stuck to my shoe.

What were you like in high school? Very similar to who I am now, but much more emotional and less confident. I was definitely on the brink of emo. I was a drama kid, but not an annoying drama kid, or at least I’d like to think that. I didn’t have one friend group, I floated between a few different groups. But Austin, the drummer in Braids, was always with me, we went through high school together. I went through a phase of smoking a lot pot in high school but it didn’t last too long. I hated math, expect for when I was high. I loved English class except in my last year when my English teacher hated me and made my life miserable. I was in dance class and art class. I dropped out of concert band halfway through Grade 12. High school is hilarious. I wish kids could just skip it all together. But it’s important in that you meet amazing people and learn a certain degree of discipline. I’m glad I went to a public school.

Can you share one of the best or worst reactions you have gotten as a result of your music? When we were touring our first record, Native Speaker, a boy in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan told me that our record had greatly helped him while in rehab for a heroin addiction, and then hugged me for like five minutes. We both cried and laughed a lot. Sometimes you’re reminded of the power of music and it’s ability to heal. After that interaction I stopped smoking cigarettes because I wanted to make sure I could keep my voice around for a long time.