Alpines, Catherine Pockson and Bob Matthews once described their music as “night pop”. With an ethereal, icy blend of vocals over cleverly constructed beats and their nu-goth personal style – Pockson’s ebony hair flowing down to the waist and Matthews’ chiselled cheekbones – this is a band fit for a fairytale.
For Pockson and Matthews, “pop” isn’t equated with X-Factor assembly lines, powered by Simon Cowell throwing 100 dollar bills around in his hot tub in Beverley Hills. It is a term that Pockson with her high hitting vocals and Matthews a keyboard and guitar playing maestro, hope to reclaim.
“We try to be as creative with it as possible”, says Pockson describing their music. “I am fascinated by the idea that pop doesn’t have to be disposable. Today I danced madly around the bathroom listening to old school classics on Kisstory, which is my favourite hour of radio,” she explains keenly highlighting their music’s varied influences. Their forthcoming album set for release early next year was inspired by a mix of chart toppers to the ancient love story of Odysseus and Penelope.
Though Pockson and Matthews were both born and raised in Kingston-Upon-Thames they never met there. Their paths only crossed at a mutual friends wedding, 120 miles west in Bristol. “We were both involved in different musical projects, but one day Catherine started singing over some instrumentals I had made on the side. Before we knew it we had a few songs, and then things just spiralled from there,” recalls Matthews.
This year, they supported Florence and the Machine on her 2012 March tour (they met modelling for jewellery designer, Dominic Jones) and their music was used in a video for designer Hannah Marshall. Pockson has also leant her vocals to the latest Maccabees album, Given to the Wild on the track “Unknow.” It is no coincidence that these two should find themselves involved in fashion – they look the part. “I love experimenting with what I wear. I have adopted a love of classic tailoring mixed with bold, gold accessories. It is all about juxtaposition in my style and most things I do,” Pockson explains.
O: by Tank invited the pair to star in our video, modelling a selection of AW12’s finest. Watch Alpines in action and listen to their track “Deeper” from their Early Hours EP. Alpinesmusic.blogspot.co.uk
Meet the Band
Photo by Patricia Reyes
Sweden's Lykke Li made waves in 2008 with Youth Novels'
revealing turn, a pin-sharp debut striking a smart balance between
sighing, sixties girl pop and jump-rope swagger. Returning with a
darker, more direct sound which the singer-songwriter told a recent
interviewer was inspired at least in part by 'pussy power', we
grabbed five with Li to discuss her new album, Wounded
Rhymes, out on February 28.
* * *
First of all, where was the new record written and
I wrote it in New York, LA and a little in Stockholm. I went
back (to Sweden from LA) because I felt I wanted to go back to my
roots and play with the people who know me instead of working with
some hotshot dude who wants to be in control of everything. We
camped out at different studios for a few days at a time and drank
red wine and had all these African percussion instruments. It was
recorded live, a lot of the songs on the record are first takes. I
got two of my girlfriends in singing with me for backing vocals,
that was so nice. They're both singers and artists in their own
right but it was great, harmonies are really just food for your
And you worked again with Björn Yttling (of Peter, Bjorn
and John renown)?
That's right. I had some other offers but I just couldn't bring
myself to find a reason why I shouldn't work with him, I mean I had
some talks with people but they didn't say anything
Do you see what you do as being fundamentally 'pop' or
do you see yourself as operating more in a singer-songwriter
Well I mean, what is pop? When I think about the artists of
today who are considered pop I don't think I sound like them. But I
feel like that's not really for me to say. I can only do what feels
right for me. Probably I feel like people would love it if I could
make this big pop record, if I started really selling records. Like
with the last one, a lot of people downloaded that record, a
lot. But I'm not on the charts or anything, even back
One aspect of Youth Novels which was
particularly enjoyable was its minimal approach to arrangement, is
tha something you've been keen to pursue with the new
Yeah, definitely. My whole aesthetic is less-is-more - even the
way I dress, everything. And Björn as well, he's from up north in
Sweden which is very minimal, there's nothing there!
You recently collaborated on a track with Kanye West and
seem to go over well with the hip-hop crowd in general, is that
something you're proud of?
Absolutely. I love hip-hop - (Björn and I) think hip-hop when we
make music, I'll be like 'this Lil Wayne song is so dope, how can
we get this song to have as much BOOM', you know? (laughs)
You've been known to wear the Flavor Flav-style chain
onstage as well, right?
Yeah... when nobody tells me not to! Sometimes I think I
shouldn't be doing those things 'cos I'm not a rapper.
You've spoken about how you wanted to 'trim the baby
fat' with the new record, what did you mean by that?
I suppose it's inevitable that people judge you on the way you
look and sound, but (with the first record) I felt that was all
they judged me by. They couldn't see beyond my baby fat (laughs).
Being a young woman they write you off quite easily so I felt like
I wanted to be so much more direct, and have like people listen to
what I say instead.
Are there any contemporary musicians who you feel offer
interesting perspectives on sex and gender right now?
I like artists like Fever Ray, Beth Ditto and Antony & The
Johnsons. People who are playing with different roles, you
Meet the Band
As Stalker, Chicago-based musician Brendan Telzrow
makes a terrifying mix of molasses-thick drone and chopped 'n'
screwed hip-hop so heavy it's like having a squadron of tanks ride
a slow procession over your chest. Currently releasing music via
witch house affiliates Tri Angle, he also has the noble distinction
of being the only artist we know of that can boast remixes of both
These New Puritans and Lindsay Lohan on his CV. We checked under
the bed and got a quick word in with the shadowy cove, who is
currently recording his debut EP for the label.
* * *
So are you from Chicago originally? Or are you just
I have lived in Chicago for seven years but I'm not from here
originally. But I don't have much of an opinion on the place
because I spend a lot of time inside. I enjoy it.
What were the immediate influences on your deciding to
make music? When did you start out?
It varies, but they're commonly related to those studying the
effects and implementation of frequencies that you hear in music
and daily incidental exposure. Also, the art of pop music as a
consumer based product. (Sigmund Freud's nephew and public
relations pioneer) Edward Bernays' Propaganda could
be a framework for my interests.
I started playing several instruments when I was
younger. In high school there was a recording class, with
computers being somewhat exotic then there was less supervision
over the rest of the equipment. If you weren't a very serious
student, you would take a drum machine and go abuse the
reel-to-reel machines with about five people in a small padded
What's the significance of the 'III' legend which is
emblazoned on your website?
For a while I was treating a lot of appropriated tracks with a
general pattern. The 'III' just refers to a certain group of
them, but I think I exhausted everything I can do there.
At the risk of sounding cynical, is witch house not just
black metal for seen-it-all hipster kids? Is it a label you're
happy to ally yourself with? How about horrorcore?
I don't know, the genres name you. I feel a lot better not
thinking about that aspect. I enjoy listening to some things slowed
down, but it's not the goal for me. I'm inspired by anyone
using the tools they have to manipulate sound and media to impart
or evoke a thought.
On your remix of 'White Chords' you make the line "I've
got white chords running through my body" seem an expression of
body horror straight out of a Cronenberg movie, is that something
you can sympathise with?
Maybe it could have been in SHIVERS. I think there
can be parallels there, sure. I feel a restraint listening to
the original 'White Chords' but there is some angst
there. Likewise Cronenberg shows us similar internal
What do you find scary?
I also think These New Puritans and the acts commonly
associated with witch house share a certain fascination with secret
histories, would you agree? What's the significance of
I don't think the fascination is limited to one genre or medium
even. It's inherent to keep secrets, from ourselves and
others. To protect something. Knowing there are limitations, we
know we're also protected from something foreign inside us.
What's your favourite horror soundtrack of all
Which hip-hop MCs would you like to work with and
I'd rather work with a new and unproven MC, as long as the
chemistry is there, and I could have more of a developing role in
defining their sound. Aside from that, if I had the chance to
work with any vocalist right now I would like Ke$ha, which is maybe
not a popular viewpoint, but I've come to love her voice
You contributed to a Lindsey Lohan drag remix series
quite recently (for Tri Angle Presents: Let Me Shine For
You, downloadable here), is there anything about LiLo in
particular that you think is crying out for a chopped and screwed
It was a good template to extract different feelings from her
music and find some other themes. I didn't notice this until
recently, but there are actually seven songwriters credited for
that track ('Disconnected'). In retrospect the completely vague but
calculated lyrics make perfect sense, reinforcing the underlying
themes of multiple personality in her career and a lot of popular
culture. As much as I think about this stuff, most of the time
I'm trying to not think about anything when I make music.
Is your name derived at all from the Andrei Tarkovsky
film of the same name? If so, what qualities does the film possess
that you hope to bring to your music?
I did watch the film sometime before using that name, so
yes. It's not fresh in my mind so I'll have to address that
some other time.
What've you got going on in 2011?
I'm recording my EP now for Tri Angle, and mixing some tracks
for How To Dress Well. I hope to continue making music as much as I