Just before the release of “Anarchytecture”, Skunk Anansie came to Paris to discuss the album’s making. Here’s our interview with Skin.
Your new album “Anarchytecture” will be available on Jan 15th. What’s your state of mind at the moment?
Skin (vocals): I’ve been relaxed about it. I’ve been living in Italy doing a TV show so I focused on that. I’ve been doing so much other stuff that I haven’t really thought about it that much. I’m really happy because everybody seems to be really excited about the album. It’s getting an incredibly positive response. We did it really quickly, we worked really hard on it, and then I’ve been doing other stuff and forgot about it. (laughs)
It’s been a while since your previous album came out, what happened in the meantime?
S: I think we just needed a break from us, we needed a break from everybody. I’m doing a lot of other stuff, like I also DJ techno music, I made a movie, I do some modeling now. I just wanted a bit of time to do a bunch of other shit. It really was about taking a break and taking a bit of a backstep to see what kind of music, what kind of album we wanted to do next. Because we wanted to come to electronic stuff but it takes time. We’re a rock band. But I love electronic music, Mark loves electronic music, Cass loves electronic music… Ace doesn’t, Ace hates it. (laughs) So we had to really experiment to get it right, so everyone in the band was happy with it, and it takes time. We would get together every two months to do like one or two weeks of writing. So this album probably took a couple of years to write.
Was the writing and recording process any different from the previous albums?
S: Not really. In the 90s I used to write a lot on my own and this time I’m just writing with the band. There’s a couple of songs I wrote on my own. We usually just get in a room and thrash out our ideas and we just record everything on one of these (points the recorder), we have the same machine. And then we just experiment really. I think now we’re much better at soundwriting together. We don’t waste time, if something’s not working, we don’t waste time on it. Once the fire alarm went off while we were recording, so we recorded a riff called “Fire Alarm”. (laughs) So we can be inspired by absolutely everything! “Charlie Big Potato” (ed. 1999) was inspired by Ace listening to a fax machine that was going “ta-ta-ta-ta ta-ta” and he wrote that riff.
So you didn’t have any particular idea of what the album should sound like when you started it?
S: I think that we just got to a point where we knew we had enough really strong ideas and songs that we could go record an album. We had a deadline though. (laughs) The album had to be done by august. Because I was too busy after that to do it. (laughs)
What were your main difficulties, if any?
S: I had a bit of writer’s block because I was doing a lot of different things. And it was really difficult to write under those circumstances. So I was litterally writing lyrics on the mixing desk and then go in to sing them them. And I’ve never done that before. I changed a lot of things, even the songs we thought we nailed I was like “you know, this is not good enough”. “Bullets” and “Death To The Lovers” are two songs we wrote completely in the studio. Normally, almost all the songs are written when I get in the studio, or at least all of the choruses. This time I only had two songs written. I tend to work really well under pressure, when I’ve got to dig myself out of a hole, when there’s a challenge. When things are easy, my laziness comes out. I’m totally a lazy person, you’d never know it.
About the album itself, how did you get the idea for the title “Anarchytecture”?
S: It comes from the smash together of two words, “anarchy” and “architecture”. And I think it just really describes my state of mind and how I feel about relationships. I guess I’d describe relationships like: building a glass wall around a riot. (laughs) You try to build structure, to find some solidity in your life. But when you’re with another person it’s just madness and you never know what’s gonna happen.
What about the artwork?
S: The artwork is great. It’s by a guy called No Curves. He uses tape to construct portraits and paintings. He started out as a street artist and he would just use tape and put it on the side of phone boxes and buldings. We discovered him through my make up artist. He came down when we were doing a photo session and he showed us what he did and we thought “woah that’s really cool”. He just uses straight lines, but the way he uses his tape looks like he can do curves. So he did this great painting of us, and then all of the artwork.
It’s very colourful, compared to your previous records.
S: Yeah, very different. It’s kind unusual for bands to work with artists in this way. Because you know, most of the time when you look on iTunes it’s just a picture of the artist’s face. Because you want to catch someone’s eye, and you’ve only got this small size. So we thought “we’re gonna do a proper artwork, and we don’t care if it’s only little, we’re gonna spend some money and do something really cool”. Because it’s still a piece of music, and when you get the vinyl you can really enjoy it.
What message or feeling do you want people to get when listening to the album?
S: Well, every song is different. It’s a surprising album, like “is this a Skunk Anansie track?”. (laughs) So I think people should just be open minded, not like “this is not Skunk Anansie, I like the Skunk Anansie of the 90s” or whatever. But if we were doing the same thing over and over for 20 years, people would also complain and say we havan’t developped and we haven’t changed. (laughs) I think it’s interesting for us to create that debate.
Last question : our website is called “RockUrLife”, so what rocks your life?
S: Good question! What rocks my life… I think the first thing is propably just… I think it’s just more fun to be interesting and interested with people and people’s stories. I just really like to be open and positive with people. Try to create a great environment.