With two very decent albums of attacking post-punk and cold wave, you might say that Battant did their best to light up the deteriorating fag-end of late Noughties London with their brand of pop nous. But then they disbanded in 2011, following the tragic death of band member Joel Dever at the silly age of 25.

 

But hark, nowadays their French-Canadian born singer Chloé Raumet is back with a new project C.A.R, which released an album My Friends, on Battant’s old label Kill The DJ last October.

 

Fans of Anglophile continental-influenced pop should also check out her new EP, out this week on the same label. Glock’d, the EP’s excellent lead track, progresses to a sophisticated pop fanfare with a hint of not only Stereolab, but also Broadcast in its wings. Whilst, elsewhere on the album, there’s an array of homemade beats and a hazy Fantasia of woodwind sounds. It’s great!

 

Artrocker sat down for a chat with Chloé in a Dalston café.

 

 

Artrocker: The album’s lyrics sometimes deal with observations from London but often as a starting point for digressions. But what are your favourite things about London? And how good is it nowadays? 

 

I moved here when I was 16. It’s a tough city and I had a really hard time of it at first, but I’m sure like many other non-native Londoners you get this sense of empowerment for sticking it out, you know? Once you’ve landed on your feet – stable roof over your head and full belly, employment – there’s so much to see. Even after 16 years, I still spend a lot of time cycling around, exploring neighbourhoods I don’t know. I’m not so into finding the newest restaurant or checking out cool shops, it’s more bricks and mortar that captivate me. The history. And the parks. I love the marshes – watching them transform through the seasons. I also like the anonymity that comes with living in such a big city. Moving amongst all these millions of lives, each as (in) significant as the next, each with their own struggles, joys, beliefs..it’s humbling and it makes me feel human. But I get how people can find it overwhelming and cold too – although once you do engage with people, for the most part Londoners are pretty decent. (True that!  Ed) And it’s grey, and bleak, and dirty, and expensive and becoming more and more inaccessible to the people who make it what it is. But even in that sense, it’s symptomatic of what’s happening all over. London tells stories. It’s full of them. You can see where we are, where we’ve come from and you can almost taste the decline.

 

Ten Steps Up, on the album, that’s about your neighbour isn’t it?

 

Yes, it is. It’s more about my neighbourhood though. It’s all about this guy who’s been living in E8 for years and about how he’s always out on his stoop, watching people go by. And about my neighbours who live right over the road, they’ve been there a few years now. It’s just about how neighbourhoods change and about how people come into them. I’ve always lived in Hackney and I’ve seen a lot of things. I’m part of the change but I feel I can comment. Well, not comment exactly – It’s just kind of poking fun and, more generally, about how I’m getting older! And you see the way there’s this clarity and confidence in youth. The narrow-mindedness of youth!

 

 

Who are the personnel? Both on your records and performing live.

 

I wrote all the songs and recorded most of the instrumentation myself and then worked with an arranger, Rupert Cross to make it all more coherent. Timothy J Fairplay re-played a few of the shakier guitar lines for me, Mark Kerr played drums on ‘Sophomore & Angelina’ and the lot was mixed in Paris, with Ivan Smagghe in the studio helping out.

I started playing live alone but pretty quickly realised my frantically trying to trigger elements and effects whilst playing keys, percussion and singing wasn’t gonna make the most engaging show. So now I work with this lovely Icelandic guy, Thor. He does all the Ableton stuff which frees me up to perform. And the live stuff is evolving. I really enjoy being onstage with someone else. We work together. He’ll change the effects or extend bits of songs, which keeps us both on our toes. And it’s fun reinterpreting things off the album. I’ve always believed it’s important to do something different live, you know? We’re about to introduce some live drums and bass for some of the bigger festival dates too, which is exciting.

 

There seem to be some interesting retro instruments on the album and EP. Is that real woodwinds on ‘La Petite Filles du 3ieme’? And string synths like mellotron elsewhere?

 

The real instruments on the album are bass, guitar (electric & acoustic), piano, violin, a bit of harmonica, slide whistle, glock, some drums .. and a few other random wee bits of percussion. The rest are synths and drum machines, (including the flute in ‘La Petite Fille du 3eme’ & mellotrons) – for the most part as I have yet to make enough money to build up a proper studio. In saying that, bar a few classics, I’m not particularly fascinated by an old kit nor am I much of a collector, so I can’t see it happening any time soon!

 

 

So, following on from this, is there an artistic decision to evoke old-fashioned futurism? 

 

The whole album was written in a pretty organic way. I didn’t set off with a particular plan or vision. I chose the instruments cause I liked the way they sounded, and I guess they reflected the way I was feeling at the time and fitted with the words I was writing. Although I love to step back and see content and meaning in art, I can’t say I’m as clever when it comes to executing my own. That happens after the fact. Hopefully I leave enough room for interpretation so other people can intellectualise what I’m doing.

 

Are you interested in hauntological music, like the stuff on the Ghostbox label at all? Or stuff like Demdike Stare, which kind of repurposes 70’s futurism?

 

Doh! You’re locked in! Nope, not really I’m afraid. I mean I can dig some of the music, but I don’t know much about it as a scene. It all seems a bit too furrow-browed-chin-stroking for me. More generally, I’d say I’m no particular fanatic or connoisseur. I’d like to think I could dip my toes into all sorts and take little bits here and there.. With NTS [Radio], I’m fortunate to have a platform to play around with it all and see how different things can fit together.

 

So, how about the album’s ‘narrative’? 

 

There’s no narrative. Well, not until it was finished and then I started looking at the sequencing. It started out as cathartic. I was going through some really dark stuff, especially with the death of my best pal Joel. And it was quite naïve, as I’d never written on my own before. But by the end, with tracks like ‘The Thick Mud of My Heart’, where I begin singing a capella, it’s become pretty joyous.

 

 

You mentioned NTS. That’s NTS Radio, right?

 

Yes, we do a show on  NTS, on Gillett Square, E8. That’s every second Thursday, we’ve got a slot from 1-2pm and play, I guess, mostly electronic stuff, the real pure, strange electronic stuff.

 

How was the gig at the Old Blue Last? 

 

Um, ah, it was good. We were playing with our new friends Dream Wife, who’re amazing. No, it was cool. It’s always a funny one that sort of a gig on a Saturday in Shoreditch. You get, I dunno…I don’t really go out anymore on Saturday nights! It was a very random crowd. And, like I said, Dream Wife, are definitely ones to watch. They’re these three girls and this drum machine, bass guitar and guitar. The lead singer is Icelandic, the other two, I think one’s American and the other’s English. They’re actually art students from Brighton and they’re so good – and really, really funny!

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bdJ9EM8kizs

 

You’re playing the Great Escape festival in Brighton? 

 

Oh yes, the beginning of May.

 

You were asked to play the Hermes et Hjeres Fashion Festival? How did that come about? And what is it?

 

That came about through, I was recording .. and I managed to get a session recording at the Red Bull studios in Paris. And the guy that runs Red Bull, he was doing a music programme for Hjeres, so he invited me to the festival. It took place in the South of France in April, it was amazing! And we were with Jaakko Eino Kaveli (the tram-driving dream-popper from Helsinki. source, The Guardian – Ed) and Chloe Howl! It’s a fashion festival, but for young designers.

 

Sorry, Chloe Howl. Is she a designer?

 

Chloe Howl? No. she’s a recent UK pop export. I wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t looked it up! But she’s big. Well, she was big this time last year. That’s where we recorded ‘La Petite Filles Du 3eme’, and, actually, this new track Silk, which is on the new EP. I just sat down at this Rhodes and funked out this song Silk.