Download: Victoire, “A Song For Mick Kelly”


Yes In My Backyard is a semiweekly column showcasing MP3s from new and emerging local talent.

Brooklyn five-woman chamber-rock collective Victoire is a wistful tuft of wailing strings, somber drones, post-rock propulsion, and all sorts of bleak electroacoustic mayhem. It’s the moodier, anxiety-ridden end of the newish wave of New York indie-composition that’s fostering artists like Nico Mulhy, Bing And Ruth, and itsnotyouitsme. Led by composer Missy Mazzoli, Victoire’s fragile sound lies somewhere between Philip Glass motor, Rachel’s drift, and dark-humored Godspeed sound collage. Their debut Cathedral City (out now, via New Amsterdam) is a tense, rewarding slurry of samples and static drifting through Mazzoli and Lorna Krier’s keyboards, Olivia de Prato’s violin, Eileen Mack’s clarinet, and Eleonore Oppenheim’s double bass. “A Song For Mick Kelly” features rollicking strings bounding around some guest strum by The National’s Bryce Dessner–the piece reaches its ecstatic peak with a monster drone that bursts in a thousand directions.

Download: [audio-1]

Q&A: Victoire’s Missy Mazzoli

What is “A Song for Mick Kelly” about?

“A Song for Mick Kelly” was inspired by the main character in Carson McCullers’s novel The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. Mick Kelly wants to be a composer but it’s not quite in the cards for her; she’s a girl from a poor family, growing up in 1930s Georgia. She listens through her neighbors’ windows while they listen to Beethoven, makes a violin out of a cigar box and graffitis the word “Mozart” around town. I wanted to imagine the kind of music she would write. It’s this persistent, melancholy, but ultimately hopeful combination of skittish string lines, droney organs, and fragile guitar chords. The amazing poet Farnoosh Fathi and I wrote the words from Mick Kelly’s point of view.

Do you have to get in a special mindstate when you play these fragile songs?

We work ourselves to death all the time, especially when we’re recording. This was the last track we recorded, and it was done late at night when we were exhausted and happily overwhelmed. It helps that Clinton Studios, on 9th Avenue, feels like this quiet, protected cocoon in the midst of New York’s chaos. I think it’s important to forget about the rest of the world when we’re recording, to forget about the pressures of time and criticism and allow yourself to imagine a completely new sound.

How was working with Bryce Dessner?

I really wrote this track with the idea that eventually Bryce would play it. He can play anything, but more importantly, he understands the “classical/distorted/strange/impossible-to-describe” sound I’m going for. He adds a certain quiet intensity to the track, a rock sound that fits in with classical instruments and doesn’t overwhelm the violin and the voice.

How did you construct the monster drone at the end?

For a change I stopped trying to control everything and asked everyone to just “freak out towards the end.” Bryce created layers of delay and looped samples, and played some beautiful “wrong notes” that we ended up keeping in the final recording. We recorded Mellissa Hughes singing the melody line, then took out all of the consonants so you get this ghostly, not-quite-human vocal sound.

What’s the most memorable show you’ve played in New York?

Our CD release party last month at Joe’s Pub was a very moving night for us. We fancy ourselves a classy bunch of ladies, and the beautiful environment at Joe’s Pub reinforces this misguided perception we have of ourselves.

What’s your favorite place to eat in Brooklyn?

Tom’s Restaurant in Prospect Heights! Hands down. Followed closely by Abistro in Fort Greene.

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