Feral & Stray launch new album, "Between You And The Sea," and play final Montreal show at The Plant tonight
Feral & Stray is the latest project by singer-songwriter Erin Lang, international rambler and old friend of our podcast. They will release their new album, Between You and the Sea, tonight at The Plant, just before Lang picks up and moves to Berlin. I took this occasion to chat with Lang about what she's doing, where she's going, and what we can expect from her and her music.
Listen to the album's first single, "Falling," and read my interview with Lang below.
What is Feral & Stray and how is it different from your previous projects?
Feral & Stray is a pretty natural evolution from The Foundlings but came at a moment on our last tour in Europe when I decided to go back to my first instrument, electric bass, and was playing more with drums, and things started to get darker, fuzzier, and heavier. It just felt totally natural to evolve the name with the music. It is the same project and still relating to the magic of sounds coming together through different players and friendships and walks of life. Only now we are trudging more through the back alleys and we are at home here.
Who are you playing with? How does that affect your music?
Well there it is a kind of mix of people involved. In Montreal I have worked with the greatest group, evolving from Pat Latreille on upright bass, Daniel Pencer on clarinet, and Mona Varichon on French horn, to John Corban on violin and Electric bass with David Lacalamita and Erla Axeldóttir on French horn, as Mona moved to San Francisco for art school and Dan to Boston to study music composition. David came with me on the last tour to Europe where I often play with different musicians but he is originally a keyboard player and our road conversations evolved the project to where I was back on bass and we were also playing with a drummer from Germany named Andreas. Back in Montreal, John is still on violin and the intensity with which he plays inspires me with every rehearsal and show. Louis-Alexandre Beauregard is the newest addition to the group and is the drummer from Big Brave, he is playing with us for the launch and he has brought a whole other energy as well. Its funny the effect one member has on the group but he plays the drums loud and hard and it brings out something different in me and all of us i think. Really exciting! I am really lucky to have worked with everyone of these musicians and it is sure that the future holds more for all of us together despite distances.
What was the inspiration for "Between You and the Sea"?
There is a funny parallel in all this. The record was originally about returning to North America from living in the UK for a long time, but as we celebrate the launch suddenly, it is resonating the other way with my plans to go back to live in Europe. But in a more detailed way, the record really talks about the expanse of the physical distance between here and there, the risks of those journeys, but also the more vast emotional distances that grow despite your clinging on to them over that space and time, then building new relationships in a new land but with your heart still anchored somewhere in the dark depths of the ocean between your old home and the new one you attempt to create. There are a lot of dark habits and desires described on the record along with the understanding of connections that run under oceans and through power lines and that walk on water, creating psychic links in ghost whispers and unions that are written on palms. Or its just a bunch of love songs about letting go or wishing people would.
You said you were moving to Berlin soon - will this be your last show in Montreal for a while? What about Berlin draws you in?
Yes, sadly, this will be our last show in this inversion for a while. I have been touring so much in Europe and am working with a great label based in Berlin (Mikrokleinstgarten) who are releasing the album trough Cargo in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Belgium, that it just seemed a natural move but is isn't out of any lack of love for Montreal. It has been an amazing four years here, incredibly welcoming and supportive, and rediscovering my childhood home has been such a trip, but I feel good about a change and a challenge and a new language. Berlin has no specifically special place in my heart just yet but I think that will grow. I have only spent fleeting tour days there with the insides of bars and clubs and speeding through the city late for soundcheck but it has smiled enough on me in those moments that it feels right.
Will you be touring for this album? Any specific plans?
Yes! A lot of touring to come! I will be touring Europe the rest of the year around the European launch on October 18th 'til December with a little solo tour of Switzerland before that, and then hopefully back to South America next year, and I would love to be in Asia late 2014. Fingers crossed!
What are you listening to these days? Any recommendations for readers?
Oh, I am always listening to kinda strange things. A friend recently introduced me to Sublime Frequencies, a label based in Seattle that releases a lot of rare things mostly from Southeast Asia, North Africa and the Middle East. Really haunting things, street sounds and radio collages I really love, it but i think my favourite of their releases is Shadow Music of Thailand. I also recently discovered the Mighty Sparrow, the king of calypso from the 60s, I guess. (Check out the song Oriental Touch, it's so great.) The last year or so have seen a lot of two specific Arthur Russell albums on rotation: World of Echo and Another Thought. Constant play in the Volvo tape deck is Simple Minds- New Gold Dream, Bobby Vinton, and the Mills Brothers. For around here this last year, Montreal has inspired me live with Tim Hecker and Colin Stetson. We just played Passovah Fest with Saltland, Maica Mia, UN, and Yamantaka// Sonic Titan. All really amazing!