Dressing up elaborately for Halloween has become an annual tradition for Molly Rankin and Kerri MacLellan of the Canadian band Alvvays. Speaking to Young Post more than two weeks before the spooky celebration, lead singer (and one of the guitarists) Rankin was anxious that things hadn’t quite come together yet.
“We’re been plotting for days now and we’re very stressed out about this. We were thinking Kerri could be an alien and I could be her newborn baby alien with the umbilical cord still attached,” said Rankin.
The band (pronounced “Always”) will visit Asia for the first time next month when they perform at the Clockenflap music and arts festival, airing their two albums’ worth of lo-fi indie pop against the Hong Kong skyline. Chatting over the phone during their down time in between shows, Rankin said fans should expect to hear the best of the band packed into their Saturday set.
“There’s definitely something to be said for trying to summarise yourself in the most concise way for a festival set in a place you’ve never been to before,” she says.
She also had some more serious issues on her mind. This year’s Clockenflap line-up is remarkable for including a greater representation of female artists than usually found on festival bills. Although still far from equal, it marks definite progress in the music industry’s mindset when it comes to gender equality; progress that Rankin says has also extended backstage, to make playing live a friendlier experience for women in particular.
“There’s been a shift in the crews working at festivals; it seems to be a bit more accommodating. I feel like less of a groupie playing at festivals now,” she says.
However, Rankin adds, she is undecided on the notion of forcing line-ups to be split equally, or in any sort of tokenism – where acts are included simply because they’re female. “A lot of the time you want to be booked on the strength of your music, not your gender,” she says.
Rankin hails from Nova Scotia, a picturesque coastal province in eastern Canada, so the environment is another issue close to her heart. “There are a lot of environmental waste issues we see all the time that make our stomachs turn and make us feel guilty about the waste that goes into what we do,” she says, adding that fixing the problems can be done in stages.
“It doesn’t seem like a monumental, laborious thing to push on people. If we could get rid of bottled water at festivals, that would be amazing.”
The band has barely stopped performing since the release of their second, critically lauded studio album, Antisocialities, in September last year. On leading tracks such as the sparkling Dreams Tonite, the five-piece add a little polish to the sound they created on their self-titled debut, but the group was adamant they wanted to retain some of their original grit.
“With our latest record, we had access to a lot of frequencies [soundwaves] we didn’t [use]on the previous one. There are more degraded sounds on Antisocialites than there are on the first one, in some sense. I don’t want to make a pristine pop or rock record because … it’s nice to offset pop with noise,” she said.
As the group’s main songwriter, Rankin has found that isolating herself helps ideas flow when conjuring ideas for new tracks.
“I usually set up everything I like in one room: I have my favourite keyboard, amp, mixing board and PA,” she said. “Then I play, then go for a walk or a bike ride and listen to my favourite music and do that for several days. Talk to no one; feel feelings.”
Alvvays will perform on Saturday. For tickets, head to clockenflap.com
Edited by Nicole Moraleda