INTERVIEW: Daughter | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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“I can let go if someone’s not crazy about it because I know that it’s my child. You can say my child is ugly but I still adore it!” That’s Daughter singer Elena Tonra’s take on the coming release of their second album; it’s one of many moments of pure, disarming honesty from the leader of a band who sometimes shroud themselves in soundscapes and distractingly delicate instrumentation.

Not that Elena should ever have any cause to worry about people thinking that Not To Disappear is ugly in any way, shape or form. In fact Daughter’s second LP is even more confident and comfortable in itself than their first release, If You Leave.

Written and rehearsed in a small London studio between two years’ worth of tours, speaking to Elena it becomes apparent that Not To Disappear’s identity comes from the band giving themselves the time to explore new directions and not being afraid of where they might lead. “We’d been touring for so long that we were itching to get back into that other process of making another record.” Explains Elena. “We wrote loads of different songs and it was kind of strange in that we all went off and did our own thing for a while. There were some songs that were electronic and some that were really loud and it was interesting to decipher what was going on.

“I felt like we didn’t really have a plan which was great; with each song on the second album we chose them because we love the songs and when we came back together it was to work on them to see how good they can be.”

It turns out that the three members of Daughter (Elena, guitarist Igor Haefeli and drummer Remi Aguilella) could make the songs very good indeed. Not To Disappear is not only tighter and more focused than its predecessor, but it expands the band’s comfort zone. It’s also more direct and less ambient, so given how successful the formula was first time round, did the band approach their newest creations with some trepidation?

“We tried not to think too much about what people would think of the new songs compared to the old because then you start over-thinking and changing things. It would seem very unnatural and it was important to be quite selfish in a way, selfish about making the best album with the songs we’ve written. What would we love to listen to? What would we love to play live? You have to make the record that you want to make as a band and as creative people and if we really worried ourselves sick over whether people are going to like it, it wouldn’t be the record we wanted to make.”

Speaking of playing live, it’s been a busy couple of years for Daughter, with plenty of festivals and an opening slot with Sigur Ros at the Eden project, not to mention a US tour with the kings of anxiety ridden, beard stroking indie (and 4AD label mates), The National. Enviable gigs for sure, but has touring with cult heroes had an effect on the second album?

if we really worried ourselves sick over whether people are going to like it, it wouldn’t be the record we wanted to make

“I think touring helped a lot, especially because I feel we’re, hopefully, better musicians for the fact that we played live so much for those two years. It’s a really weird thing, we were saying that if we’d recorded If You Leave after touring those songs for two years it would have been really good! We still love If You Leave but you just think I wish we’d recorded it now when we could actually play it!”

Whilst musically more diverse and assured, Not To Disappear is also clearly a deeply personal record lyrically and that’s down to Elena, which is no surprise given her honesty and openness. It also feels cathartic, which, again, is no surprise for an emotional writer. “I think I’ve got quite a strange way of writing in that I don’t write for a long time and then I go around collecting stuff and keeping it hidden in my head for a while. I end up learning more about myself through reading the lyrics that I’ve already written than what I would by just normally standing around. I learn how I feel about things.

“I think sometimes I can be a bit emotionally guarded, which seems strange because I write all my emotions out in songs, but it’s a good way of understanding a time and how I was at that time and I think with the first album, I wrote all these songs and it wasn’t until a year later that they all started to make sense.”

So with big name tours finished, album number two recorded and eagerly anticipated ahead of release and a headline tour booked for next year, things look like they’re going to stay busy for Elena and Daughter. But do they have a plan for what they want to achieve by the end of the year?

“Oh I’ve no idea! I don’t know. I don’t like to think too much about that sort of thing. We were very surprised with how the first album did in terms of how many people listened to it and the amount of people that were turning up to shows, I think we were all just pretty blown away by it. At the moment I’m just happy that we’re happy with the album. You write stuff in the dark and don’t think that people are going to listen to it so it’s really nice that they do. I have no big wild ambitions, I just want to make music.”

Daughter play O2 Academy, Newcastle on Monday 25th January. Not To Disappear is released on 15th January via 4AD.

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