Published Mar 21, 2013Suuns have just released their sophomore record Images du Futur, on which they continue to explore the darkly futuristic sounds first exhibited on their ambitious debut Zeroes QC. Singer Ben Shemie discusses the band's recording process, influences and the creative atmosphere of Montreal's active music scene.
Images du Futur seems to have a more consistently darker sound than Zeroes QC. Was this a direction you guys had planned on?
Well no, there was no real plan. We don't necessarily discuss specific directions that we're trying to go for, it's more something that kind of happens organically. I think our first record was pretty dark in a different way. I would say some of the darker bits on this new album are definitely more dark than stuff we've done before, but at the same time some of the lighter stuff we're doing is in a way brighter than some our earlier work. I feel like it's just a wider record compared to the first one, so there's a lot more going on. To answer your question, we're very aware of what we're doing and it's very deliberate, but we don't really have a plan. I wouldn't say that we're trying to make it dark; it's more just the way it comes out.
I've noticed that you guys are sometimes surprised by some of the comparisons you get to other bands or genres like krautrock for example. Do you ever find that frustrating?
You know, we're in a time where everything needs a label and there are a million sub-genres. When people talk about music ― not just journalists but everybody ― they want to have just a word or two that will kind of describe what it is. I wouldn't say it's a good or bad thing, it just depends on whatever a person's first impression is. I think we get "krautrock" a lot because of the repetitive things that we do. We get "art rock" a lot because of the experimental nature of some of our music. We also get "electro" and "minimal." The labels are surprising sometimes just because, although I totally understand where they're coming from, they're always different. Every listener comes from a different musical background.
So what kind of specific influences did you have for this record? Is it true that the Pixies are one of your favourites?
I mean we grew up listening to rock'n'roll music, we're a rock band. And yeah, they're probably my favourite band. For me, they're the first band that kind of made the transition between popular radio music and underground music. Indirectly they're a huge inspiration to me, but I mean I could never write music like the Pixies, it's just too fucking difficult. But for this record we listened to a lot of Kraftwerk and old-school electronic music. Everybody in the band kind of comes from a different place, so a lot of ideas from different sources kind of get mashed together. We listen to everything.
I've read that Images du Futur was recorded during, and perhaps somewhat inspired by the student protests in Montreal. Did you guys have any particular connection to that tense atmosphere?
It was recorded during the protests at the late summer and early fall of last year. It definitely set a sort of mood during the recording process. Most of the music was written before we went into the studio, so the protests mostly just influenced the vibe in the air. We're not really a political band or anything like that. In small ways it may have influenced the lyrics, but it was mostly just the atmosphere that was affected by the protests, not the music itself in a big way.
What do you think of the current music scene in Montreal that seems to be flourishing in a big way? Any particular artists you're really liking?
Yeah, the scene has been building for so long and now there are all these great bands coming out of Montreal. I feel like we're kind of plateauing in this beautiful atmosphere that we have here. Fundamentally I don't think the scene has changed in the sense that the city is still really cheap. I think that's a driving force for a lot of people staying in Montreal and working in the arts. There are a lot of places to play and lot of students so it seems like a perfect mix of things that would make for a good indie rock scene. As far as bands that are really happening, I really like VALLEYS, they're good friends of ours and we've toured with them. On the electronic side, Tim Hecker is one of my favourite artists.
Do you feel like you maybe represent Montreal when you play other cities?
I don't really think so, but I suppose you do whether you want to or not. Often, especially in Europe people say things like "oh a Montreal band, what's it like being from Montreal?" So I guess in a way you kind of end up being an ambassador for the city, just because that's where you're from. We're very proud to be living and working here and a large part of the reason this band exists is because of the circumstances of the city that just allow you to be creative. That being said, once you're out in the world you're just a band floating in space and I don't think our music in particularly representative of Montreal. But yeah, we are from there and that's what people often latch on to and associate us with and that's cool.