Tag Archives: Synthpop

Annie Hart on “Twin Peaks,” Reuniting with David Lynch, and Refocusing as a Songwriter

Annie Hart

Photo by Sebastian Kim.

When Annie Hart first started working on the songs that would become her debut solo album, there was one question looming large on her conscience: What the hell is the point? “It was this all-consuming thought,” she tells us via phone from her home in New York. “Like, we’re all gonna die, shouldn’t I be helping the homeless instead of this? It just seemed like a random use of my time when I have a lot of other useful skills for the world.”

As one-third of the synth-pop trio Au Revoir Simone, Hart—along with bandmates Erika Forster and Heather D’Angelo—has spent the last 14 years making dark, dreamy songs that feel as if they’ve been plucked from some neon ‘80s otherworld. Though Au Revoir Simone has been on hiatus since 2013 (save for a brief small-screen reunion as part of this year’s Twin Peaks revival), its members have kept plenty busy in the time between; while Hart went solo, D’Angelo pursued an environmental science degree, and Forster formed protest rock band Nice As Fuck with Jenny Lewis and Tennessee Thomas. Hart also gave birth to her second child—something she says deepened her questions about what it meant to be putting out music at this point in her life.

With Impossible Accomplice, Hart channels these bigger existential questions into eight bracingly intimate songs about love, loss, empathy, and crumbled relationships. Though the album’s shimmering synths and shuddering drum machines will no doubt call to mind Au Revoir Simone’s alluring repertoire, Impossible Accomplice finds Hart taking a more minimal approach to arranging, as well as exploring deeply personal lyrics. “But you come with me again because you’re dying to be free / And I come with you again because it comes so easily,” she riffs on “On The Way Down.”

Following her recent U.S. tour, we spoke with Hart about going solo, reuniting with David Lynch, and how she rediscovered her purpose as a songwriter.

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Theda Hammel on Giving Sondheim the Synth Treatment

Theda Hammel

Theda Hammel doesn’t call herself a musician.

“I only ever refer to myself as a ‘major trans celeb,’” she says, over noodles. “If someone asks what you do and you say musician, they always ask ‘What kind of music,’ and I never have an answer. If I say ‘I do electronic music,’ they think I make dance music, or something experimental. If I say ‘I’m a singer-songwriter,’ they think I strum a guitar. So, I say ‘Major trans celeb.’ Nobody ever asks a follow-up when you call yourself a ‘major trans celeb.’”

However she self-identifies, on SondHamm, Hammel’s musical skill is undeniable. On the EP, Hammel reimagines four Stephen Sondheim numbers, imbuing the grandiose Broadway ballads with the same anxious-yet-comforting, ghost-in-the-MIDI-file sound that characterized her 2016 debut EP, Very Great.

Several times during our interview, Hammel stopped herself to ask if I found what she was saying interesting. From her arranging process with MIDI files to her thoughts on Sondheim’s lyrical discipline compared to the rhymes of Katy Perry, my answer was always yes.

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This Week’s Essential Releases: Synthpop, French Pop, Swedish Pop & More

7-essential-600-6.09.17

Welcome to Seven Essential Releases, our weekly roundup of the best music on Bandcamp. Each week, we’ll recommend six new albums, plus pick an older LP from the stacks that you may have missed.

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