Photo Credit: Nathan Nash
The Disco renaissance or the catharsis of making a record after a couple of years where reality was a little more off than usual. All of that and more was on the table when we sat down with Arkells to talk about working alongside the likes of Aly & AJ and Lights, being on the road, and more like their September 2022 release, ‘Blink Twice,’ in this brand new interview.
Kendra: Your September release, ‘Blink Twice,’ is the companion, the buddy, to last year’s ‘Blink Once.’ With that, if you had to compare these albums to a classic pair, which duo would you say they were and why?
Arkells: Holmes and Watson. Let’s think about those two characters for a minute, and how they complement each other: both albums and their songs have elements of excitement, mystery, curiosity, and some depressive sad moments, and are very smartly put together.
Kendra: You also worked with a lot of amazing artists on ‘Blink Twice’ from Aly & AJ to Lights. When you bring new people into the recording process, do you take notes of how everyone works and then maybe bank it for future use?
Arkells: Oh absolutely. The joy in the collaboration is getting a peek inside how other artists do their work. Lights sent back a few ideas, and I was immediately like, “That’s the bridge! That is the missing bridge.” Wes from The Lumineers had a real clear vision of how he wanted the lyrics to feel and pushed me to take it to a more exciting place. Nathan from Cold War Kids wrote his verse responding to the first verse we wrote. Each situation led to a different moment of exploration and creativity.
Kendra: One of those songs is “Dance with You” which features Aly & AJ and Cœur De Pirate. Oh my gawd, this is such a fun song with major disco vibes. This is a genre that has a definite time and place in history but I’ve been hearing it a lot lately. Do you think we’re on the verge of a disco renaissance?
Arkells: I hope so! This song is quite a sonic departure for us – which is the appeal. We’ve had a chance to play it live already and I can tell by the second chorus that everyone in the crowd is locked in. Hope it becomes part of our show for years to come.
Kendra: On the flip side you have “Human Being,” which I feel has this vibrant energy but also gets really insightful at the same time. Over the past couple of years, we’ve all been pushed to our limits and expected to just go about normally. The pressure – it’s real. Do you feel as if this song is your cathartic release from the daily pressures of life?
Arkells: Yah – I feel like the last couple of years have been a real learning experience. We’re all learning a lot about ourselves, and in the process, things can feel even more confusing. The song is about trying to be honest with yourself and the people around you – because when that happens you’re able to be lighter, free-er, happier.
Kendra: Now fans will hear all of the above and more this fall as you head out with Lights and wrap things up with K.Flay. The ability to get back on the road and tour after live music being one of the first things taken off the table in 2020, it’s got to feel amazing as an artist but how do feel fans are more appreciative of live music now more than ever?
Arkells: Ya the shows we’ve been having lately feel pretty cathartic. That’s always been our M.O.; bring joy and fun to everyone coming out to the show. The hardest thing is writing setlists. We have so many songs at this point. We want to get to all the new stuff, but there are old faves that get requested – deep cuts too! – that we don’t get a chance to play much. More shows will allow us to get to everything.
Kendra: Side note time – with September being a Back 2 School month, I’d love to know your favorite field trip or just school memory.
Arkells: I have nice memories of walking to and from school with my friends Tim and David. They lived behind my house and would pick me up in the morning. I’d be late. They’d be patient. Our elementary school was only six minutes away, but it was a nice feeling as a kid – being independent – getting to walk to school by yourself. Maybe grade 3 is when we didn’t need our parents to walk us.
Kendra: Lastly, with ‘Blink Twice’ out on September 23rd and a tour already booked, are you already looking ahead to 2023 possibilities?
Arkells: We gotta tour all these damn songs. Gotta get to all of them. We hope 2023 allows for lots more shows.