Not To Disappear
ELENA TONRA: We officially started writing it about two years ago. We had come off touring for an extensive and intense amount of time. We stopped touring as much, we rented a space, and put all of our instruments, microphones and equipment in this space and made it a writing and demo-ing situation. It was great because we could go in at any hour we liked and if we had any ideas, we could make them there. That was kind of the start of the process. Each song had a different way of coming about. In some, the music was written first while others it was the lyrics. We didn't want to overthink anything too much—we just wanted to, writing-wise, chuck out as many ideas as possible. It was really cool that we had a lot of different stuff going on in our heads. There were some tracks that were really far away from what we've done before and some that were really folky, and others that didn't make it onto the records.
IGOR HAEFELI: This time around, we got to cherry pick.
REMI AGUILELLA: We went in the studio with a pretty clear idea of what we wanted to do. There was more preparation in terms of not having to freak out in the studio as much.
KAPLAN: If You Leave, was extremely melancholy. I think anyone who has heard it probably cried at some point during it. Do you think Not To Disappear will have the same effect? Is there an upbeat side to this record?
TONRA: It's a bit different. For me, there's stuff that's sad because it's such a personal record. I'm not sure, if you're the listener, if it'll have the same effect. Our first record was maybe more emotional because it wasn't really a breakup album, but it was that weird 'pre-everything going to shit' album. I think that sentiment was beautifully recognized by people saying I feel the same way. This record is a bit more aggressive and lyrically, I think it's a bit more straightforward. I don't think there's as much poetic license or hiding places within my lyrics. It's quite direct about my feelings.
KAPLAN: Why do you think that is?
TONRA: I don't know, actually. To be fair, it really worried me initially because I was writing very stream of consciousness stuff. I just wasn't writing the same way, and I really worried that I couldn't write anymore. I worried that it was the end of the band. [laughs] I just had to embrace that what I'm thinking and feeling is more confident, in a way. It's confident in its lack of confidence.
HAEFELI: It's definitely about Elena finding strength in the lyrics on Not To Disappear. To me, the title evokes coming from a place where you've nearly faded away and trying to fight back.
TONRA: There's always fighting and bringing that person out of a miserable hole on the first album.
KAPLAN: Do you mean disappearing from depression?
TONRA: I think disappearing in different ways. You can disappear inside of yourself and become an empty shell with depression in mind. It's that feeling of being invisible. Sometimes when I wake up I don't feel like my head is attached to my body—there's nothing. On "Numbers" it's basically a repeating mantra of ‘I feel numb.' It's not disappearing in that sense, and it's not disappearing in an artistic sense—trying to make something beautiful that means something. If it's something beautiful that means something just to us, that's enough.
AGUILELLA: I think we talk a lot about reminiscing about alienation and looking through a specific person's eyes. I think it's figuratively disappearing, but not so much in your entire self.
TONRA: You can take it in all different ways.
KAPLAN: What's the most personal thing you've written about thus far?
TONRA: Everything is super personal. Basically all of the songs are 'this is my life and what I feel about it.' That's how my brain works and thinks about things. It's really strange because I never really think about what I want to write about—it sort of just comes out. I literally say whatever is in my brain. "Doing The Right Thing" is a song that was really hard because I started writing it and wasn't really thinking about it. I just started spouting out whatever I could think of and it became this song about my grandmother and my mother. It was something I didn't realize affected me as much as I thought. I find it interesting when I look back at songs and it's what I've been thinking and feeling for the past two years. There's some sexual stuff in this record and I'm sometimes like, "Is that too far?" There's a confidence in it. It's over-sharing, but in a really therapeutic way.
KAPLAN: There's obviously the sophomore slump idea that second records are often a disappointment to fans. Does that concern you guys?
TONRA: I think we try to let it not concern us. There's this weird pressure also because our first album totally exceeded everything we expected; we didn't really think people would be as beautiful and kind about it as they were. For us, that was really surprising and amazing. Now, we're going into the second album and trying not to compare it to the first album and seeing it as a completely new stage. If you have that outlet—and we shouldn't confine ourselves to music or genre—it's really great because you can literally do whatever you want. Obviously now that it's finished, we're thinking of the technical side of things.
AGUILELLA: I think you need to trust your sensibilities. We're all coming from different directions, and it just ends up being what it is. If we're happy with it, then that's a big achievement. We do it quite selfishly in a way—for our pleasure. It's amazing people relate to it. I think Elena's lyrics have a lot to do with it.
HAEFELI: We had played the songs from the first album over and over again and some of them became more aggressive on stage. I think that, in an interesting way, influenced our second album.
KAPLAN: When we spoke two years ago, Elena, you and Igor were romantically involved. Are you two still together? How has that affected the music?
HAEFELI: No. It's worked out as a record. It wasn't an easy record to make—maybe a little bit of it is how that change happened. Maybe it's what brought us together in another way, as friends. We're still very creative together.
AGUILELLA: Because you guys weren't together, space had a lot to do with the making of this record. Being further away to concentrate on something that didn't have to do with the band was good. It was a healthy way of dealing with music and life, rather than being in a tour bus all together. It was needed.
KAPLAN: It's very admirable. How did you decide on releasing "Doing The Right Thing" as the first single?
TONRA: It was quite hard for us to decide. When you're making something, you obviously like every song. It's sort of like what song represents the album or what song represents the change we made, musically. We had a couple of people who were like, 'we love this song!'
AGUILELLA: I just think it's just a nice song to start with.
02 – Numbers
03 – Doing the Right Thing
04 – How
05 – Mothers
06 – Alone With You
07 – No Care
08 – To Belong
09 – Fossa
10 – Made of Stone