Today’s track of the day comes from the forward-thinking Portuguese outfit The Gift, with their single ‘Love Without Violins’ featuring the legendary composer Brian Eno.
Always keen to push their creative boundaries, the four-piece are one of Portugal’s biggest musical exports having been at the forefront of the country’s DIY scene for twenty years. This latest track ‘Love Without Violins’ is sure to gain international interest however, showcasing the band’s desire to experiment while bringing Brian Eno’s immediately recognisable vocals on board to complement Sonia Tavares’ dramatic vocal delivery. Starting off darkly with sinister synths and percussion, the track lifts halfway through with soaring pop melodies, neon atmospherics and layers of pulsing instrumentation.
In a huge coup for the band, Eno has collaborated on several tracks from their forthcoming album, of which ‘Love Without Violins’ is the first cut. GIGsoup caught up with the band to hear about the song, working with the composer, and their career so far.
Can you tell us about the new single ‘Love Without Violins’? What is it about?
The new single is a song that speaks about a relationship between two people, where one of them has a dominant hold over the other. Sonia and Brian did a wonderful job singing the words to those two characters.
Aesthetically it is a song with a structure with three parts that are all different. It starts with a dark electronic environment with Sonia singing those dominant words, and it then continues to an instrumental part that leads into Brian´s incredible singing.
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What has it been like working with Brian Eno? How did the collaboration come about and how did his involvement affect your creative process?
The first time Brian saw the band live was in Vigo, Spain, and we had no idea that we would be working together in the future. A few months later we invited him to meet up with us to create something together, without knowing if the collaboration would lead to a full album.
Luckily we all had an amazing time and decided to meet up again 4-5 months later, and then we continued to work together for 2 and a half years.
Working with Brian was the most pleasant, unique and enthusiastic experience of our lives. We were always very relaxed, focused on experimenting and trying new solutions for the initial ideas of the songs. Brian has a very unique way of looking at the structures of the songs, the chord variations and the concepts of every song. He ended up co-composing and co-writing the lyrics with the band so his involvement was obviously determinant to the final result.
What can fans expect from the new album? Does it differ to the previous album?
The new album is still being finished at this point and people can expect an evolution in the sonority, in the lyrics, in the composition and in the recording of a very inspiring moment of our lives. Having the chance to live with Brian and share experiences, musical ideas, different approaches on the structures of our songs and on our performance immediately made a huge difference to what we did before.
You’ve had a pretty impressive career so far; what has been your greatest achievement?
When you have a band you can always separate your achievements in several areas – studio, live shows, special performances, etc…
We come from a very small town of 6000 people in a peripheral country like Portugal. Playing to big audiences throughout this year in Portugal, Spain or Brazil is a big achievement. However, we also consider it to be a big achievement to be playing for smaller audiences in North America, Europe, Asia, South America and Australia, and being able to show our music in so many stages in an independent way is very important for us. Artistically maybe this collaboration with Brian Eno is the greatest achievement in our career so far.
You’ve been at the forefront of the DIY scene in Portugal for years. How important is it for you to have control over every aspect of your career? Do you think more artists should go down this route?
We were forced to use the DIY method because in Portugal the labels didn’t want to sign us. After a while we started to appreciate the fact that we were in control of the albums, timings, video clips, booking of shows, management, budgets and strategies for the future – we have our own label, we are our own agents and managers at the same time as we are musicians.
In some ways it’s pretty complicated to have so much responsibility when artistically it’s good to be free and maybe even irresponsible, but bands need to understand that it’s possible to completely separate the artistic part from the business part. If they’re able to do this it might be a good idea to follow DIY! We have always had an energy and chemistry that worked very well, and we have been able to balance the artistic part and the management part perfectly throughout the years.
However, doing it this way is slower, as it is very difficult to conquer a larger audience in several countries working ‘alone’. The amount of work is much bigger but you are the sole owner of your work, of your ideas and all the members of the band are always aware of everything happening. More artists could go down this route if they can separate the two worlds and balance the band energy and the business structure perfectly; if not it is better to have someone helping them at a label, management, booking, publishing and for the band to focus on the artistic part only.
What music is exciting you right now?
We are always listening to a lot of music. When we were younger it was so difficult to get a hold of new music in our hometown, and now we have access to music from the whole world! This week the band is listening to the new Nick Cave album, and we are still listening to the latest Radiohead album. Love & Hate by Michael Kiwanuka is on some of the band’s playlists too. I was listening to Angel Olsen’s new album and Poison Seasons by Destroyer, and next week we will be listening to some other albums and songs, old and new!
What are your ambitions for the future?
Our future is always now or the next few months… We are very enthusiastic about the idea of promoting and playing our music to new audiences, such as interviews like this or any form of shows like the ones we will do in 2017 to promote our new album. Our ambition has been the same since we started the band – to play more and to bigger audiences. Hopefully 2017 and 2018 will be the years where we can show our music in more countries, more festivals, more clubs, more theatres, more venues and bring more audiences to listen to our music.