Photo Credit: Tristan Dagenais
The beauty of Montreal, the performance art of crafting a music video, and so much more was on the table when we sat down with Atsuko Chiba. Of course, we couldn’t not talk about their January 20th release, ‘Water, It Feels Like It’s Growing,’ so we did! Album chatter and so much more in this new back-and-forth exchange.
Kendra: When it comes to music scenes, I really only ever got to experience LA. What’s Montreal’s like and where do you feel Atsuko Chiba fits into it?
Atsuko Chiba: We are quite lucky to be living where we are. There are so many talented artists here in Montreal. The people here seem pretty open and excited to support and experience music, and art that lives on the outside of the mainstream.
Bands are really able to be themselves here and explore ideas as they see fit. And I guess our band fits in exactly like that. Being involved with Mothland has also been great because so many amazing bands are being pulled into their orbit.
Kendra: Now let’s talk about your 2023 release, ‘Water, It Feels Like It’s Growing,’ because you really went in deep with delivering these soundscapes which, in many ways, is like painting on a canvas only using your instruments and vocals. With that, what art style do you think would wind up on the canvas if this album were an actual painting?
Atsuko Chiba: When it comes to artwork, we always naturally gravitated towards surrealist style art. But with our newest album, we recognized a shift in the music and how we put that music together. This album marked our third time working with Papernoise designs, and diving into a more abstract world was something that we all naturally leaned towards. With this album, the music is more patient, layered, and expansive; constantly changing and morphing. That’s why we fell in love with the art that Papernoise presented us because the more you look at it, the more you begin realizing plenty of things that were there the whole time but you didn’t notice right away.
Kendra: Speaking of art, the video for “Seeds” feels very performance art. Was the clip all inspired by Rodrigo Sergio’s vision?
Atsuko Chiba: Rodrigo is a good friend of ours and we have been trying to find a reason to work together for some time now. After a really great photoshoot, we wanted to continue the creative momentum, and creating a video for the song Seeds was the obvious choice. His idea to include movement artist Jade Maya in the project came quite early on. We wanted to have a video that matched the ebb and flow of this slow-moving/slow-building track, and the style of contemporary dance that Jade practices was perfect. We had a few creative meetings exploring different themes but It was, ultimately, Rodrigo’s vision for the song “Seeds.”
As he explained – The performance across a natural environment and a brutalist architectural space was inspired by the Hermetic Principle of Correspondence, “there is a harmony, agreement, and correspondence between the several planes of Manifestation, Life and Being.”. It was really great to see firsthand someone else’s vision come to life around a song we created.
Kendra: And I know with this album it wasn’t about following any particular rules or structure but four out of six of the songs start with S, was the alliteration planned?
Atsuko Chiba: Haha, that was definitely not planned at all. It just kind of happened. but there were other weird things that we started to notice. One of them being that some of the early song titles had a lot to do with plants and growth (Seeds, sunbath, water, it feels like it’s growing). It became more obvious over time that the album art and title should reflect that.
Kendra: Planned or not planned alliteration aside, what you did want from this record was to create musical experiences for fans. However, I’d love to know what has been your most memorable musical experience as one? A fan that is.
Atsuko Chiba: That happened very recently, we all went to see The Smile play in town. That was so mind-blowing for a few different reasons. They played great and sounded amazing, but the simple fact is that after all this time, those two can still continue to innovate, and push boundaries and write some very impactful music. That was a major inspiration for all of us in the band. This seems like a great opportunity to also shout out some of the amazing bands we’ve had an opportunity to see and play with. Bands like Lume, Yoo Doo Right, La Sécurité, CDSM, and Fet Nat are constantly blowing us away.
Kendra: Also, being that it’s a new year, have you set any sort of music resolutions for yourself?
Atsuko Chiba: Our goal for the future is always more or less the same. We want to write more and more music at a rapid but efficient pace. We are lucky enough to have our own studio, which we’ve been improving and working on for the last several years. Through lots of trial and error, we continue to explore new ways of writing music. The goal is always to write, record, and tour as much as possible.
Kendra: Lastly, with ‘‘Water, It Feels Like It’s Growing,’ out on January 20th, what lies ahead for you?
Atsuko Chiba: The new year is already shaping up to be quite busy! Once the album comes out, we plan on playing some album release shows in our neck of the woods, followed by a tour in the US in March. It feels great to be finally getting back into touring mode. We have so much fun playing live, and we can’t wait to share all this new music with everyone!