ARTIST INTERVIEW: Carmen Villain

Carmen Villain

Carmen Villain’s voice projects the vibes of a psychedelic witch, singing in a spooky fog-covered lagoon, especially in her new track, “Quietly.” Its counter track, “Let it Go”, sounds like its mostly-instrumental sequel. This half Norwegian/half Mexican babe is about to embark on an UK tour with Neneh Cherry, and there is no doubt that she will be wooing audiences with her hypnotizing dream-like performance. I had the chance to ask Carmen a few questions about her growth as an artist, style inspirations, and cover song choices. Take a gander.

AudioFemme: How has your sound changed and grown since the release of Sleeper?

Carmen Villain: It’s still evolving all the time, but there’s definitely some elements that have been left behind, but I have also taken some of them further. I think there’s a bit more light in my music now. Really trying to let most of it pass the song test: whether they can be stripped back to their core and still work. Also been working with different recording techniques and been re-amping a lot, sampling, and also adding some new instruments, like the piano.
AF: What things inspired you while recording the “Quietly / Let it Go” 7”?
CV: Just life and my surroundings. I had just moved back to Oslo from London when I wrote these, so they are definitely influenced by these changes. “Quietly” came about by just messing about with different tunings and just playing for hours in my apartment during winter. “Let Go” was the result of a walk by the seaside (I had missed this a lot in London!) in which I recorded all these seagulls and my dog going bananas. I later took these recordings and played around with drones and different frequencies, and the melodies came from there.AF: A while back you covered Kurt Vile’s “Childish Prodigy.” Are there any other artists you have been covering lately or would like to?

CV: (We covered “He’s Allright”!:) ) I haven’t covered anyone for a while, but at rehearsals we sometimes finish off with TLC’s “Creep” just to blow off some steam!

AF: Based on videos, it seems like in the past you have had other musicians playing with you on stage, and more recently you have been performing alone. Are you going to be solo for your upcoming dates with Neneh Cherry?

CV: Yeah we used to be a four piece a while back to be able to play the way the songs were arranged on Sleeper, but the new stuff is a lot more flexible, so can be performed in different ways. Sometimes solo, sometimes three of us, and right now on this tour there’s two of us, myself and Mona.

AF: Tell us about who you chose to be accompanying you on stage on this upcoming tour.

CV: I’m really lucky to have Mona come along with me on this one, she plays additional guitar, keys and sings. Mona is also part of a duo of her own called Mona & Maria, they make beautiful folky pop. Maria used to play with me, but she’s on maternity leave right now.

AF: Your style rules. Who are some musicians that inspire what you wear while performing?

CV: Why thanks! Hmm can’t say there’s anyone well known in particular, maybe mostly my friends. I guess I just wear what feels comfortable at the time.

AF: If you could go back in time to be an artist during any era of music, which would it be?

CV: I’m good where I am!

AF: What’s on your everyday playlist as of 2015?

CV: Dean Blunt, Jessica Pratt, Grouper, Connan Mockasin, Todd Rundgren, Crosby Stills Nash, Ras G, Kurt Vile, Alice Coltrane, Harold Budd…

AF: Any talks of a tour or any shows in the US in the near future?

CV: US tour is right at the top of my wish list, so going to be working hard to make that happen!

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