CMJ Preview: Au Revoir Simone


Au Revoir Simone (Ben Pier)

Au Revoir Simone Photo: Ben Pier

Au Revoir Simone’s new album, Move in Spectrums, is out now. The band will play Wednesday at the Highline Ballroom, 431 W 16th St, New York, 8 pm; $25. They will also appear Thursday at Judson Memorial Church, 55 Washington Square South New York as part of the CMJ festival, 2 pm; free (first come first served).

With the exception of maybe Kraftwerk and Hot Chip, there aren’t many bands whose members all play keyboards. Add the Brooklyn trio Au Revoir Simone to that list. Each of the musicians in the band, Erika Forster, Heather D’Angelo and Annie Hart, performs on the synthesizer and sings.

Even Erika admits that the configuration was weird at first when they started the band almost 10 years ago.

“It presents its own challenges,” she told me, “but we have a lot of fun with it. I think we’ve always just had a real connection growing up in the ’80s, we all had these Casio and Yamahas and funny sound machines, it felt natural to dive into that and see what we can make.”

For the uninitiated, Au Revoir Simone specializes in dreamy, ethereal electronic music born out of classic synths, drum machines and lush vocals. After a four-year hiatus between albums, the trio released their latest record, Move in Spectrums, last month. Having recently completed a leg of their European tour, Au Revoir Simone are embarking on a month-long series of North American dates–including a gig Wednesday at the Highline Ballroom and a CMJ event Thursday at Judson Memorial Church.

During the interim period, Erika released a solo EP as Erika Spring; Annie was involved in musical projects; and Heather was working on her environmental biology degree. “It was a wonderful exploratory time,” says Erika, “to absorb other influences and learn more and try to strengthen our skills as writers, keyboardists and singers–and then come back together to see if we can make some magic happen again.”

In some way, Move in Spectrums, which was mostly recorded in Greenpoint, represents a different approach than the band’s previous albums, sparked by Erika’s solo release. “The girls were really intrigued by the drums that I worked on,” Erika says. “We founded the band when I inherited all of these funky different instruments and this one beautiful drum machine. Most of our albums were made around these drum beats that we made from this early drum machine. I broke away from that and I was using a lot more modern ’80s sounds and I think the girls’ ears perked up when they heard that. So setting a backdrop of bigger, more boombastic, more developed drum machine beats created a new bed for all our keyboard sounds and kind of gave them a new vibe.

“Crazy,” one of the songs off the new record, also has a surrealistic video, directed by Heather’s husband, that pays homage to Martin Scorsese’s 1985 movie After Hours.

After this month’s tour, Au Revoir Simone will be doing some local gigs in November and December. Starting in January, they will embark on an tour of Asia followed by Europe again. The band has also worked on a couple of songs that could form the basis of an EP. “We are kind of starting over after taking such a long break,” says Erika. “There are a lot of people who have never heard of us. It’s really fun trying to rebuild a new fan base.”


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