Published Jan 23, 2011Hearing the swirling effects that flood Braids' debut full-length Native Speaker, it's clear there's a wildly experimental nature to the Montreal-based band's pop tunes. Tracks like opener "Lemonade" thrive on whooshing water sounds and electronic hiccups as much as they do tribal drum patterns and lead vocalist Raphaelle Standell-Preston's enigmatic cries. But despite the psychedelic sonic tapestry the band weaves, Braids' music wasn't always such a head trip.
Back in 2008 in Calgary, AB the quartet ― Standell-Preston, drummer Austin Tufts, multi-instrumentalist Taylor Smith and keyboardist Katie Lee ― was known as the Neighbourhood Council. When they recorded their Set Pieces EP, the young group didn't quite have a handle on their sonic potential.
"When Set Pieces was recorded I didn't even know that reverb existed," Standell-Preston laughs of that relatively straight-forward recording. "At that point we hadn't really dove into effects in the way that we have since then. We all got effects pedals ― that was pretty important in adding a textural element to our music."
"Now the effects are completely married to the sound," Tufts adds. "A large amount of the effects work that we do now is the foundation of the songs."
Following the Montreal move and name change, Braids began the long process of making their proper debut. Recorded on their own in garages and apartments over a nine-month period, the outfit perfected their expansive sound. From the loop-laden minimalist electro of "Lammicken," to the propulsive, drum-circle-led new wave/African highlife mash-up "Same Mum," Native Speaker is the sound of the group finally coming into their own. To this, Tufts credits the ever-growing bond and collective spirit found between the foursome as performers and as friends to Braids' stunning new set.
"There's no lead person writing the songs saying, 'you play this and you play this,'" Tufts explains. "Thus came the name Braids: the braiding and intertwining of our four musical personalities."