“Experimentation in music is absolutely the foundation of what we do and how we write,” BIG|BRAVE vocalist and guitarist Robin Wattie says. Since forming in 2012, the Montréal band have focused on “minimalism, repetitions, trying to keep that space, [and] intentions,” she adds.

These elements are the foundation of BIG|BRAVE’s fourth LP, A Gaze Among Them, out May 10 through Southern Lord Recordings. “We wanted to go back to our original concept and move forward with what we know now. There is a sense of maturity, a sense of growth in this, sonically,” Wattie reveals, crediting “the experience we’ve had in writing these albums, in playing live. We took that knowledge and applied it to our original concepts when we first started this band.”

“We wanted to try to make something interesting and full while keeping it very minimal and spacious,” she explains, “experimenting with the notions of repetition and slow evolution of the same thing throughout a long piece of music.”

The biggest challenge for Wattie, guitarist Mathieu Ball, and drummer Loel Campbell was to keep the core of their sound going while expanding beyond what they had already done with the previous albums. “Each song is one chord, basically, with different parts. There’s a narrative to follow. I think the biggest challenge with that is to make something to captivate the listeners enough for them to be interested in listening to the rest of the song,” Wattie clarifies. “One common theme I’ve noticed when people talk about our music is that it doesn’t click with them upon the first listen. It takes them a few listens. They have to actively listen to get into it, and even understand it, and then, when they see us live, then everything comes together.”

“Also, with these concepts and themes, we ask ourselves, ‘How do we translate that in our live performances and the recording?’” she says. “They’re such different environments with different means of getting the songs across.”

“We wanted to keep the sound of BIG|BRAVE but not write something that would necessarily come easiest to us or that we’ve done or what would be the logical next step in where we could go sonically based on previous albums,” Wattie continues. “We were trying to keep our original concepts at the forefront with the idea of what BIG|BRAVE sort of sounds like without repeating ourselves. That was the biggest challenge. There would be times where we were like, ‘Oh, this is a very doomy part, and our last album is very doomy and slow.’ It does feel natural to go in that direction, but we didn’t want to do that or, for instance, certain things that we did in [2015’s] Au De Laor our first album, [2014’s] Feral Verdure. We noticed that we were gravitating toward structuring songs like those older songs, but we didn’t want to do that again.”

BIG | BRAVE Rachel Cheng

A Gaze Among Them was recorded with Seth Manchester at Machine With Magnets in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. “The process of creation of this one was also a bit different, because we didn’t start writing the record until four months before the recording date that we booked,” Wattie says. “Usually, we have all the songs a good chunk of time before the recording session. We play them all live for months, and we are overly prepared. With this one—except for ‘Holding Pattern,’ that we wrote and recorded in the studio—we wrote the entire album four months before the recording session. We had never done that before.”

Ultimately, the trio are proud of what they’ve accomplished. “We worked so hard on it, and we’re pretty ecstatic with the end product,” Wattie says. “This is the first album where we’re happy to share it. We’re more willing and less shy. We have let our close friends listen to it, and normally, we don’t. I think we feel a little bit proud of A Gaze Among Them. I think that’s why.”

The new album was released through Southern Lord Recordings, the label run by Greg Anderson of Sunn O))) and Goatsnake fame. “We always feel nervous sending a new album to Greg, because his opinion matters so much to us—and I know that he will support us no matter what we do, because he’s a very open-minded person musically, but we still want him to like what we make. It’s hilarious, because both Mathieu and I get easily anxious and easily stressed out about these types of things,” Wattie admits. “When Mathieu finally sent it to Greg—I think it was like an hour after we sent it, and there’s a time difference too—he was like, ‘Greg didn’t reply. Do you think he hates it?’ and I was like, ‘I don’t know. I think it’s OK, though. We’ll just wait.’ Luckily, he sounded excited, and he kept talking about it. I think that he’s very much happy with what we came up with.”

The album’s cover art, which was also created by Wattie, reflects the lighter side of BIG|BRAVE. “Our last albums had beautiful art, but they’re very, very dark. With this album, we just wanted to go for something that sort of reflected where we were, where we are, and how we feel about what we’re doing sonically,” she shares. “It doesn’t have to be dark imagery to pair with heavier, loud music or sad music. I think there can be a lot of emotion and feeling in lighter colors. When Mathieu and I were talking about the album art, I immediately went to white. I wanted something white and light.”

“I wanted something also to represent us as people,” Wattie concludes. “We’re serious when we need to be serious, and we have ups and downs like everyone, but we’re also really goofy and happy to do a lot of things. We’ve matured. We’ve reached a different level, and this album expresses exactly who we are now.”

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:: New Noise Magazine Metal Web Editor ::

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