The finest things we experience take their own time to truly evolve. A fine wine, for instance. It matures for years, cultivating its unique aromas and tastes. And some bands do much the same—they follow their own muse, creating masterpieces instead of churning out an onslaught of half-conceived albums.
Ra Ra Riot, the former baroque-pop darlings, reflect this refined maturation process. Two years after the release of their captivating album The Orchard, they return to us with a lineup change and a new album, Beta Love. We had the opportunity to discuss the venture into electronic elements with bassist Mathieu Santos.
You’ve just released the newest album, Beta Love, and it’s a bit of a departure from 2010′s The Orchard. What do you think shifted the band’s sound?
I think a lot of different things. The biggest part was that we knew we wanted to approach the writing and arranging of this record differently. When we first started as a band, we had all these different instruments at our disposal, and at first, it was a strength of ours, but I think over time we sort of got into this rut. We learned how to write and arrange together so well that we just approached the songs in the same way; we were always adapting the songs to the band. It was like, “Oh, yeah, what’s the violin part going to be? What’s the cello part going to be? What’s this? What’s that?” We just started doing the same thing in every song, I think.
When we approached this record, we wanted to listen to the songs once and say, “What does this song need?” Just let it develop more naturally. We also wanted to embrace things we might have been too self-conscious to embrace in the past, like a lot of the electronic elements or the thematic elements. Shortly before we started working on the record, we had a lineup change, which shakes things up. We let a lot of the decision-making happen in the studio as opposed to figuring it all out beforehand. There was a lot of spontaneity and improvisation in the studio, which also helped shape the music.