BIG | BRAVE • Interview + Album Release Special
Montreal’s BIG | BRAVE have just released their brilliant and epic new album A Gaze Among Them and the album is a sublime piece of work that is both minimalist and expansive as well as truly cathartic.
We caught up with vocalist and guitarist Robin Wattie to talk about the new album, it’s creation and themes as well as how the band’s recent tours have gone, signing to Southern Lord Records and her influences as a musician.
Your new album A Gaze Among Them came out recently. How did the creation and recording of the album go?
The creation of the album went quite well! Mathieu and I spent four months in our jam space working through each piece – building, breaking down and reworking every detail over and over again.
What inspired the tracks on A Gaze Among Them?
With regards to concept, minimalism and tension. Doing our best to pair everything down while trying to maintain the focus of the listener.
The epic Body Individual is the centrepiece if the album. Can you tell us about the inspiration for this track?
This was born out of our love for creating an ambient space and diving headfirst into cathartic release in the second half of the track.
You worked with Seth Manchester on A Gaze Among Them. What did he bring to the albums sound?
He refined and engineered a massive soundscape. If you listen to his past records he’s produced and recorded (Daughters, The Body), they are massive masterpieces.
Thierry Amar from Godspeed You! Black Emperor also guests on the album. Can you tell us how he came to contribute to the album and what he brought to it?
Thierry had recorded on a couple tracks of our previous album. And because he is a phenomenal musician, we shyly asked him if he would do us the honour of contributing to this record. We let him choose which tracks that resonated with him most.
What has the reaction to the album been like so far?
The reaction is beyond anything we could have hoped for! It has been so positive!
Do you find that playing the powerful music of Big|Brave is a cleansing experience?
That is an interesting question. I would have to say it is definitely cathartic – screaming into a mic with a massive sound backing up the vocals is quite a powerful feeling!
How have your recent tours in the US with Primitive Man and Dreadnought gone and what have been some of the highlights?
Oh, the tours went so well!!! I am in love with kind souls in Primitive Man and Dreadnought were a great band to share the stage with! I think the biggest highlight I’d have to say is the discovery of this band Elizabeth Colour Wheel who we played with in Philadelphia. FANTASTIC performers and musicians!
Have you been playing a lot of material from the new record and how has it gone down?
We have actually only been playing the new material! Its been going so well! I believe it is our best live set to date!
With a new record out and four albums now, how difficult a task is it to pick a setlist out?
Oh! its actually quite easy for us. We never really play old pieces with the exception of one track off our second album. I believe it is because we are constantly trying to push ourselves forward musically.
What song do you love playing live the most?
Hmmm, I think Holding Pattern… or Body Individual. No. Holding Pattern.
How did your show at the Raw Power Festival go?
Oh it went SO well!!!! I was so surprised at the energy and response and how many people took the time to listen to us. Not to mention the entire staff of the Festival and the venue were some of the kindest folks I’ve had the pleasure of working with!
How did the rest of the UK and European tour go and what were the highlights?
The tour went beautifully. I think the highlight was becoming dear friends with My Disco. I feel very lucky to have not only been able to get to play with them but to also have gotten to know them. I miss them dearly.
How did the tour with Daughters go at the start of the year?
That tour went beautifully! We had a couple new folks on our team – both of whom are dear friends and so good at their craft.
You’re playing a few dates with Sunn O))) in September. Are you looking forward to those shows?
OMG I can’t WAIT for the shows with Sunn. We are very excited to see them again.
What are your live plans for the rest of the year?
We have a tour with Deaf Kids from Brazil and Thou from the US!
What has been the greatest live performance that Big|Brave have ever played?
haha! I honestly don’t know… like for real!
Who have you enjoyed playing and touring with in the past?
We’ve really toured with a handful of bands to date. Sunn, The Body, My Disco, Primitive Man and Dreadnought. And they each were super enjoyable. Like beyond imaginably enjoyable – if that makes any sense at all!
Who would you love to tour with in the future?
Elizabeth Colour Wheel and Lungbutter.
How is life on Southern Lord and how did you come to join the label?
Pure luck. We built up the courage to send Greg an email. He told us he gets hundreds of these kinds of emails – I mean imagine, it’d be humanly impossible to go through every single one of them and give them the attention he’d like with everything he has going on already. But we happened to be in his inbox that one lucky day he did decide to go through them!
What have been some of the highlights in your career with Big|Brave so far?
Oh definitely being signed to Southern Lord and getting to meet every single person we have to date (musicians and fans alike). And of course, having the privilege to get to tour everywhere we have!
Who is the biggest influence on you as a musician?
For myself, there is not one single musician. But if I were to name a few… Wendy Rene,Gillian Welch, Mica Levi, Marisa Anderson, Nina Simone, Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn.Alice Coltrane.
Words: Gavin Brown