Actual Russian Brides – Wife Beats
How did the band name come about?
Lindsay Webb (a.k.a. Baby Swindle): Actual Russian Brides? Drunk. Elle was trying to explain to a group of friends that a colleague had a new girlfriend who was … tall … glamorous … Russian… always asking for money and jewellery … and apparently already married or committed to a scary and threatening Russian man. Elle was slurring ‘she’s an actual Russian bride!’ and the group said ‘that’s a ridiculous phrase’ and later the night got out of hand and the phrase was remembered, and we were DJ-ing and we decided to make the band. We looked online and the amount of Russian brides available was outstanding. (In fact we culled a whole bunch of Russian dating site profile images to make a video for our song The Shackup ( http://vimeo.com/arb/shackup ). The economy of this world is both absurd and sinister but it presents a shiny surface that is so Eurovision.
Do you have a production tool that you couldn’t live without?
LW: A lot of our songs come from noodling about on the Elektron Monomachine; we might then replace some of the sounds but use its initial groove or melody. We also use it live and some entire songs are programmed with it. Otherwise in the studio we have a lot of stuff. Favourites like the Roland Jx3P, Macbeth M3X and Lexicon PCM80 get lots of use. With computers we have a hybrid approach. We tend to mix in Logic, occasionally Ableton; Elle is more used to Protools so she is using that. When playing shows we don’t use a computer, this gives a live and organic feel to the event and also tests our skills to the limit. We’ll primarily use an MPC as the centre with drums programming, random samples etc; but the MPC is sick at the moment and it might be terminal. Like a pet, we are not sure if we’ll replace it, and are experimenting with the Elektron Octotrack as another ‘brain’ option. 6
Are you planning to tour the album with any live shows?
LW: We are planning some shows in Sydney and Melbourne in September. We’d love to go further afield if people want to have us.
You experiment with helium on the track Balloons … Are you planning any other substance experiments for the next album?
LW: For Balloons (http://vimeo.com/arb/balloons) we have a digital setting that makes Elle’s voice into helium-speak when we don’t have a balloon onstage. The main challenge with inhaling helium is to get the lyrics out without laughing — the first time always gives you a fright! The next album already has a title and quite a few tracks. It aims to be quite earnest, quite post-ironic, so maybe as a substance we will try Bovril.
Storytelling with songs – can you relate one of the stories that inspired a track on this album?
LW: The most story-like one is probably Anywhere. It is recounting leaving a relationship for another potentially better relationship (maybe like the actual Russian bride!) and leaving the first one in such a mess that skipping town is required for a while. You leave with your new love and your hormones are irresponsible and you can’t focus on what the consequences might be and you just feel invigorated and free. That — possibly clichéd — state where anything is possible and it doesn’t matter to you where you go. The song is a road trip song about this particular type of running away and is incidentally fun to listen to while driving.
Also do you have a fave narrative song (and why)?
LW: Not a favourite, but in this genre Elle thinks of Björk’s Hyperballad and I like Loch im Tag by Quarks (in German), a melancholic, beautifully crafted pop song about having a pointless day but observing everything that happens in that day in its absolute minutiae. ′
Actual Russian Brides present Wife Beats, EP released by Clan Analogue: www.clananalogue.org
Artist sites: http://actualrussianbrides.com