Yes In My Backyard is a semiweekly column showcasing MP3s from new and emerging local talent.
Brooklyn’s School Of Seven Bells have been on a slow burn since their 2008 debut, Alpinisms. Two years ago they were a critically championed mix of psychgaze and blustery harmonies. But now the group — ex-Secret Machine Benjamin Curtis and twin sister vocalists Alejandra and Claudia Deheza — are keepers of one of 2010’s most anticipated releases. Hell, we’ve already seen two different internet accounts of how their music makes listeners literally break into tears. Their upcoming second record, Disconnect From Desire, is probably the only record on Earth that can sensibly split its budget between emo stalwarts Vagrant Records and avant-electro crew Ghostly International (due July 13). The first taste, “Babelonia” is a next-level lushness for the band, sounding like a shoegaze record, a Madchester record, and a trance record all spinning in tandem — larger than life, almost like Happy Mondays with better pedals and better day-jobs. Not to mention the guitars that ring like actual bells! Get swept away or get lost.
School Of Seven Bells’ Alejandra Deheza and Benjamin Curtis on “Babelonia”:
What is “Babelonia” about?
Alejandra Deheza: “Babelonia” is a pretty mixed up character. She doesn’t know how to reconcile how she was taught to view the world with her own actual own experience of it. The two things don’t add up. She’s at this point where she realizes that whatever tools she’s inherited — practical, religious, whatever — are only as reliable or foolproof as the sources who gave them to her. It’s basically about accepting that, yeah, how we’re raised to see the world is beyond our control. But it’s our own responsibility to wake up and develop our own relationship with it.
What inspired its creation?
Deheza: I think this song began as this synth thing Benj was working on. And being that it’s almost impossible for me to hear a rhythm without hearing a word rhythm of some sort, I just started writing the story out. Both of us have constant little films going on in our heads. We’re just super lucky that they compliment each other.
You say the album “is a complete account of our lives this past year.” How does this manifest itself in “Babelonia”?
Benjamin Curtis: There are a lot of different colors in this record, but in this song in particular, it reminds me of some really amazing late nights out. We could maybe trace back every sound and word to some particular conversation or moment in time, but that would probably take a year. It’s a personal thing, and I think everybody is going to find something different in there.
Do I sense a Madchester influence in this particular song?
Deheza: Ha, that would not be unheard of! I mean Madchester was huge for all of us I think. It would be impossible for bits of that to not come through.
How did you approach Disconnect From Desire differently than Alpinisms?
Deheza: Lyrically and sonically, I think, Disconnect From Desire is much more direct, physical. It pulls at your body more. I think it examines things more on a micro level then on a macro level. It’s a way more personal record. It’s funny because it wasn’t until I heard it mastered that I thought, “Damn, Alley, any more you want to talk about?”
Whats’s the most memorable show you’ve ever played in New York?
Deheza: Probably one of our first shows. It was at Supreme Trading. Benj got food poisoning from a burger he’d eaten that afternoon. He was just completely incapacitated and slumped over at a table. The promoter was giving him these folk remedies with like bitters and soda, pretty much whatever he could find to make him last until we had to play. Benjamin could barely stand, but he refused to cancel the show. I don’t know how, but for that half an hour he was all energy and you never be able to tell that he was bargaining for his life. He did eventually get his life back… but after a few days.
What’s your favorite place to eat in New York?
Deheza: Joe’s Shanghai. The most amazing soup dumplings ever! For the handful of people in New York who haven’t tried it, I recommend poking a hole into the dumplings first just to be aware of what you’re getting into. Haha… But not so haha for those who learned the hard way like me. Oh, and don’t get it on your clothes, because you won’t get it off!
School Of Seven Bells play Mercury Lounge on June 9 with Maus Haus and June 10 with ArpLine and Warm Ghost