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:: Spotlight :: Interview with School Of Seven Bells

By: Carmine Pascuzzi

With their dynamic and exciting electro-pop sound, New York based School Of Seven Bells are one of the hottest bands out this year. The band comprise Benjamin Curtis (ex-Secret Machines) and twin sisters Alejandra and Claudia Deheza. They have recently completed a UK/European headline tour and are now set for a short Australian tour before returning to the UK for some early May dates and then undertaking a busy US tour from then until mid-June. Their debut LP ‘Alpinisms’ has attracted much attention for its wonderfully textured, dreamy pop sound. The rhythms are gorgeous and the sisters' vocal strength is majestic. The album was recorded in their own studio in Brooklyn. I had a brief chat to Benjamin about the band's growth and expectations. I asked, firstly, about the recent tour. “The European shows went really well. I worry that people don't turn up to our shows but we've had a great response.”

Tell us about the beginnings of the band?

We met about five years ago. Both our bands (Secret Machines and the girls' band On! Air! Library!) were touring with Interpol. We started talking about music. Alejandra had the idea for the name and the concept and it sounded exciting. The band is named after a mythical South American pickpocket training academy. It all came together in 2007. We moved in together and created a home recording studio.

Tell us about your collaboration and the special relationship with the twins?

The girls have a unique vocal quality and it's an important part of the show. It's the genre of music I wanted to instill into our act. As far as collaboration goes, we talk about things going on in our lives and what's happening in the world. A few little ideas can lead into some lyrics. The music is then built around the vocals.

That is a worthy yet unorthodox approach to songwriting - as far as the music simply being an accompaniment to the lyrics…

Yes, this is the important element. Everything else is an accompaniment. We do it top-to-bottom and it really works. We just had the idea of allowing the words, melodies and harmonies go unrestricted.

Though the sound is beautifully arranged with the dreamy, soaring harmonies and chilled electro beats, I've often thought that you could work even better with additional players. Has that ever been an option so far?

I've often thought about it but wondered whether it would work properly against the dynamic of what we currently have, and what we can control.

Did the recording process take a long time as I can imagine you being a perfectionist, to get this sound right?

The first time we recorded we relied, to an extent, on the engineer. We took a steep learning curve and decided to do our own recordings. It did take a while as things can move in different directions. However, it was all done in our studio and I engineered it. I think you‘ll find that there is a good flow to the respective tracks. 'Alpinisms’ is really the result of our first examination.

What inspires you?

I am inspired by people who do things their way, even though it might be seen as the wrong way.

Tell us about bringing that wonderful recorded sound into the live setting?

We're getting a lot better with every show we do. The dynamics change according to how we feel, but we're excited about presenting a full, layered sound on the stage. Electronics play a major role but, with the vocals, we make great noise between the three of us. The chemistry is great and it's crucial to making School Of Seven Bells succeed. I had never been in a band before that had sequenced drums so we decided to go with that and I've been happy with it. It's less restrictive than I thought.

School of Seven Bells - upcoming tour dates

April 15 - Anson Rooms (w/Bat for Lashes) Bristol
April 16 - Brighton Corn Exchange (w/Bat for Lashes) Brighton
April 17 - Sheperds Bush Empire (w/Bat for Lashes) London
April 19 - Shepherds Bush Empire(w/ Bat For Lashes) London
April 23 - The Gaelic Club, Sydney
April 24 - The Zoo Brisbane
April 25 - The Corner Hotel Richmond
May 3 - Leeds Metropolitan University (w/ White Lies) Leeds
May 4 - Queen Margaret Union (w/ White Lies) Glasgow
May 5 - Manchester Academy (w/ White Lies) Manchester
May 7 - Heaven (w/ White Lies) London
May 8 - Heaven (w/ White Lies) London
May 10 - All Tomorrow's Party Minehead
May 12 - Arts Centre Norwich
May 13 - Harley Sheffield
May 14 - ULU London
May 15 - The Rainbow Birmingham
May 20 - Bottom Lounge *** Chicago, Illinois
May 21 - High Noon Saloon *** Madison, Wisconsin
May 22 - Triple Rock Social Club *** Minneapolis, Minnesota
May 25 - Sasquatch Festival Seattle, Washington
May 26 - Holocene *** Portland, Oregon
May 28 - Bottom of the Hill *** San Francisco, California
May 29 - Troubadour *** Los Angeles
May 30 - Detroit Bar *** Costa Mesa, California
May 31 - Rhythm Room *** Phoenix, Arizona
June 2 - The Mohawk *** Austin, Texas
June 3 - Hailey's *** Denton, Texas
June 4 - Sticky Fingerz *** Little Rock, Arkansas
June 5 - Exit In *** Nashville, Tennessee
June 6 - Circus *** Columbus, Ohio
June 12 - Bowery Ballroom New York, New York

For more information, visit

www.schoolofsevenbells.com