There are so many things people don’t talk about. Because they don’t dare to, because it’s not common, because they think it’s embarrassing. We always want to maintain the façade, even though we feel unhappy or discontent just to not appear weak to others. But actually, what’s so dreadful about being weak? You can’t always be strong or cool, there’s always the point where the burden gets to heavy and you collapse. But as already said – people don’t talk it straight, they prefer to hide their feelings, their so called ‘weakness’.
Luckily, there are a few exceptions which prove the rule and reflect that you don’t have to be ashamed of your emotions, you’re not alone in this. One of those is Elena Tonra, DAUGHTER’s singer and lyricist. Whereas on the band’s first album If You Leave she sometimes hid her feelings behind sentences that were wrapped up in metaphors, now –on the trios sophomore record Not To Disappear- she reveals her true emotions. Emotions that many of us share with her, but just can’t put into words.
Of course questions like how does she do this, how can she not care about what other people could think of her when she’s singing things like: ‘I hate sleeping alone/Terrified with the lights out/ I hate living alone/ Talking to myself is boring conversation/ Me and I are not friends, she’s only an acquaintance’ (Alone With You) or ‘And they’re making children/And they’re making love/With their old excuses /We are built for reproduction/But I find it soothing/When I am confined/I’m just fearing one day soon/I’ll lose my mind ‘ (Doing The Right Thing) pop up.
In our interview with DAUGHTER’s guitarist and producer Igor Haefeli, he told us that it actually hasn’t been hard and quite natural for Elena to be that clear and honest:
‘I think Elena found it fairly easy because she’s always done it. Even on the first one were some lines where’s no way around understanding what she’s saying. And that can be deeply dark thoughts. It’s like a therapy, it’s exercising something and it’s taking it out and going like: I’m going to put this in a more abstract form and that’s going to have a life on its own and I will find some kind of relief within that.’
And that’s the most unique characteristic people love about the trio’s music:
‘Something amazing and comforting for us is that people have come to us after listening to the songs just like: Oh that says how I feel but I just really couldn’t say it. And that’s a brilliant thing, it has really been amazing for us to hear some stories that people have and the way they relate to the song.’
But not only Not To Disappear’s lyrics are more straight, the music also is. As Igor betrayed, they ‘dried up the reverb a little bit’ on the ‘guitar front’ and in production they ‘generally took the reverb down a bit’. He also unveiled that whilst recording and writing their second record DAUGHTER has been ‘more confident in general’. And besides they went ‘more extreme’ which naturally came with the experience of three years of touring.
No vague expressions, just total honesty
You can feel and hear the band’s strong and confident approach on the whole album. Its honest lyrics and atmospheric music melt into something homogenous, something sad, but also uplifting at the same time. In any case, it’s heart-breaking touching as the bands former work. It sound quite kitschy, but Not To Disappear captures true emotions and puts yourself in every situation Elena is singing about. Because most of us have felt like her before. Because she has the ability to put deep feelings into words, into strong and moving words.
There is one song that stands out in particular: No Care. The piece that reflects DAUGHTER’s development the most. The piece that has the most direct text: ‘There’s only been one time where we fucked, and I felt like a bad memory’. No hiding behind any vague expressions, just being totally honest.
No Care seems to me a lot more aggressive than your previous works. Where does that come from?
IH: Elena sort of had this little guitar riff and then we just had this stream of consciousness, we turned on the mic and wanted to see what’s happening. That was very much that song. Everyone thought that it’s fun and cool and not like anything we have done before. And when we went to New York we expanded on that. I made this really cheesy drum machine sounding like : tzzktzktzktzk. And then we put Remi in a room late at night and said: okay, you got an hour, go in and hit a bunch of stuff. We put all that together and Elena recorded several layers of vocals. We wanted to exacerbate that aggressiveness of it because it really is an aggressive song. Let’s milk it, let’s use it to its full extend. It is definitely sort of the order one out one the record, but one we all love a lot.
And what exactly made you do the step of moving from London to New York?
IH: The change of location was a very refreshing thing for us because we were working on the songs before in London quite intensely for over a year. By the end we were running in circles all the time and becoming quite negative about it. Because the idea was let’s work on the songs, let’s get a plan. We got a very good sense of where we wanted to go. We wanted it to be a different thing from the first album where we were spending a lot more time in the studio figuring things out at that point. But this time around it was like: okay, we’re in our little space and work on that a lot. And then we just worked on it too much. Especially me, I’m quite obsessed about those things, spending nights working on it. That was a down of the band at some point but luckily we had the opportunity to go to New York.
Going to another place focussed and refreshed us.
IH: And then we went to Brooklyn specifically because Nicolas Vhernes studio is there. He helped us producing the album. We had a really strong sense of what we were doing with this songs and we knew what the album should be like and also that I could produce the record with him. He definitely helped us achieve it in many ways in terms of sonically as a great studio, a great equipment and a great ear. And then he put some crazy ideas in the mix. Some were really silly and then some were great and helped us to be a bit more playful with certain things. On top of that he was a great engineer. He helped us achieve our vision. And it was great for me as a co-producer with him because we were very much on the same working level.
DAUGHTER not only found a skilled producer for Not To Disappear, they also managed it to get other great artist on boat. The directors Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard (NICK CAVE‘s 20.000 Days On Earth), who shot the meaningful videos for Numbers, Doing The Right Thing and one that is to follow. And not to forget the British painter Sarah Shaw who is responsible for the records beautiful artwork. A painting that is about contrasts, as Igor told us. The contrasts between ‘the black, the blue and the pink’, so to speak darkness and lightness.
And that’s fitting perfectly well to their music: their sound unifies the feelings of hope and despair. In other words: it mirrors the ups and downs of our daily life. Exactly that is making so many people being touched by DAUGHTER’s music – they show, that they are normal people like us. People who share our feelings and emotions, who experience happy and sad moments like we do. The only difference is that they have the courage to reveal their thoughts on stage. And we definitely need more brave people who do that, who help us standing to our own feelings and emotions.