Braids Reveal the Emotional Challenges of 'Deep in the Iris'

Braids Reveal the Emotional Challenges of 'Deep in the Iris'
Photo: Landon Speers
Despite the drama and the trauma behind them, Braids' new album, Deep in the Iris, proves that the now-trio are still a band who wear their heart on their sleeves in a tender balancing act of sacrifice, trust and catharsis. If their last album, 2013's Flourish // Perish saw them sifting through the wreckage, dazed by their own implosion that resulted in the 2012 departure of keyboardist Katie Lee, Deep in the Iris is all about leaving the past behind and moving forward together.
 
"I had more of an intention to reach some kind of a resolve," Raphaelle Standell-Preston tells Exclaim! over the phone from a tiny room in Montreal where she and her bandmates, Taylor Smith (bass, guitar, percussion) and Austin Tufts (drums), have squished in together. "Something that isn't hopeless. I know that on Flourish // Perish there are some lyrics that are pretty hopeless and don't really ever find that resolve. With this record, I just wanted to be as raw as possible, as human as possible and as exposed as possible."
 
Smith and Tufts shared that desire, and all three worked hard to reestablish their connection. "For this one, we really wanted to tear things down and feel that sense of vulnerability in front of each other again," Smith says. "And feel that sense of comfort to musically explode in front of each other."
 
There were tears and talking, walks and meditation, cooking and settling back into their lengthy friendships again, all of which are rooted in childhood. Once they finally started writing, Standell-Preston found a kindred spirit to serve as her inspiration: Joni Mitchell and her classic album, Blue.
 
"I was just like, 'Holy shit Joni, you are putting everything out there and are you saving anything for yourself?'" Standell-Preston remembers. "I just thought it was such a beautiful gesture how much she put herself out there and how much I could experience from that and grow from that and feel from that... I really wanted to feel what it is to be a person with feelings and show that on this record."
 
It's a simple but profound desire — be a person with feelings — and it's evident in every corner of Deep in the Iris. This is Braids in their rawest state, but also their strongest, because they survived.
 
"The band represents so much more than just a career," Smith says. "It's not just like, 'Oh, I could be in this band or I could be in any other band.' There are hardships and for many people, they wouldn't really face those head on and deal with them. Because of the nature of this project and we grew up together and have done so much together. We've all moved across the country together and done so much — changed and grown and loved and hated each other…"
 
"Not for too long!" Standell-Preston interjects, to laughter.
 
"I can never see myself walking away from this band," Smith says. "These two guys, they're everything."
 
Deep in the Iris arrive today (April 28) via Arbutus/Flemish Eye.