Eleanor Friedberger established her profile in the music industry in the early to mid 2000’s, off the back of the indie-rock band she formed with her brother Matthew, The Fiery Furnaces.
Sonically adventurous and renowned for their ‘kitchen sink’ approach to crafting music, The Fiery Furnaces married sounds as disparate as idiosyncratic pop and garage with left field, progressive flourishes. The band enjoyed a healthy following in Australia, touring at least twice during their mid 2000’s heyday.
With both siblings now engrossed in their own solo projects for some time now, Eleanor Friedberger has just delivered solo album number four, ‘Rebound’.
When I put the call through to Eleanor to chat about the new record, she was hanging out in her bedroom at 8pm in her home base of New York City.
‘Rebound’ takes significant inspiration from Eleanor’s recent time spent in Greece, where she traveled to see family and immerse herself in the culture. While there she discovered an obscure, late night gothic dance club called Rebound, which as well as providing her with an album title, also delivered inspiration for the fledgling album demos. Says Eleanor of the experience;
“Before I took the trip (to Greece) I bought a Casio keyboard, with the idea of getting myself a new song writing tool, to spark some inspiration. I thought, if I even write just one song with it, it’ll be worth the price. But I wrote a ton of songs, but in a way that I’d not written before, writing melodies and turning them into a bunch of elaborate demos and writing the lyrics after the fact. So I had a bunch of these songs written, without lyrics, and that’s when I went to Greece. And when I came back, that’s when I finished the songs.
But discovering that club (Rebound), really set the tone for how I thought things should go. Going to this place that felt so foreign yet so familiar at the same time. It really captured a sense of alienation, a place that was a little bit sad, but also really exotic and exciting in some ways. And I was just trying to capture that feeling.”
I asked Eleanor how she enjoyed this different creative process around the coming together of the album.
“It was nerve wracking, but liberating. It was such a treat to give myself the freedom to noodle around on the guitar for five hours. I never would have given myself that luxury in the recording studio..or tortured somebody else to listen to that, haha! So it was good to experiment and push myself to see how much I could do like that.”
With it’s keyboard driven, ‘80’s ‘goth-disco’ (in the words of Eleanor) vibe, I ask her if she was listening to a lot of gothic style music by way of inspiration at the time.
“I’m a big fan of the Canadian band, Destroyer. There’s a song on their last album, called ‘Tinseltown, Swimming In Blood’, which has kind of a Joy Division type vibe, which I literally listened to 100 times! Aside from that though, I wasn’t listening to anything in particular. I try to do a lot of reading when I write, rather than listening to music. For me it’s about getting into a certain state of mind, so I read as much as possible.”
In today’s world of digital downloads, short attention spans and a plethora of easily accessible music at ones fingertips, I put it to Eleanor if she feels disheartened to be making music designed to be listened to in more of a holistic manner?
“I think it’s sad, but I try not to think about it too much. I still listen to whole albums. If somebody hears one song and they latch on to that without listening to the rest, that’s fine. But I still make albums as a whole piece of work, because that’s what I think is important and that’s what I grew up listening to. I’ll continue to do that. I think of myself as someone who makes albums as a bunch of songs that all are supposed to be together. It’s like writing a book of short stories. But many people don’t listen to it like that, probably..”
And as for her memories of touring Australia, Eleanor is definitely an enthusiastic advocate.
“Oh my god, yes, I love touring Australia so much! It’s a strange thing, because it’s such a long way to go, but it’s so familiar too. Because I’m half English and half American, it’s very much like the perfect blend of feeling an English vibe, with a Californian type culture, with the food and weather. And the music fans are some of the most enthusiastic I’ve met anywhere in the world.”
Eleanor Friedberger’s fourth solo album, ‘Rebound’, is out now on Frenchkiss Records.