Four piece Cloud Control, whose album has been critically acclaimed (and for once, this is a wholly true and supported statement) originate from the beautiful Blue Mountains. Characterizing the album are vocal harmonies, tambourines and slow, rewarding builds. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! and Local Natives sit comfortably alongside their initial sound, but what begins to shine after repeat listens is the same sense of journey and celebration that brought Arcade Fire to fame; instruments and arrangements change and evolve with every track on Bliss Release, vocals change gender and the sense that this is a band-with-four-people-and-four-instruments is non-existent. It treads a perfect line between the immediate indie pop-song and the less accessible psychedelic elements, never going too far in one direction and yet avoiding the cowardice of doing either half-heartedly. It’s immersive, sincere and well rounded. We had a chance talk to talk with Heidi Lenffer, who contributes on keyboard, tambourines, and vocals. Read on for the interview!
Serial Optimist: Serial Optimist obviously loves optimism, your music grows over the space of a song and seems to really evoke optimism; avoiding cheesy happiness but still putting out a very positive vibe; is that innate? Are you innately a band of optimism?
Cloud Control: It’s interesting that people perceive this because many of the songs came from a place of confusion and frustration, so this probably reflects how there can be beauty and certainly growth through confusion. The perception of optimism is also a subjective experience and is definitely an internalized one for us because we never intended to write a cheerful album (not that this would be a bad thing), but we did try to write the best songs possible for us at the time. It’s fair to say that the four of us share a positive outlook on life and it’s trials.
SO: Where does ‘Bliss Release’ come from?
Heidi: The lyrics deal with a variety of light and dark, so there is a sense in which the title resonated with an element of release that the music provides for these sentiments. On a trivial note, it was actually or mother that first suggested this title.
SO: Your artwork for Bliss Release and the single “There’s Nothing in the Water We Can’t Fight”, in fact all of your artwork is really consistent and stunning, it visually describes your sound. Could you tell us a little more about it and your input?
Heidi: From the very earliest stages of our band, all of our artwork has been created by one team- two brilliant artists from Sydney running a collaboration called Greedy Hen. Katherine Brickman was our first contact and we only discovered her because she had posted one of our early demos as her Myspace profile song. That was the beginning of something beautiful and we have commissioned her ever since to create our art without any creative guidance or limitations. She works purely from the inspiration of our music and that’s the way we want it to stay; art free from intervention, like two chemicals reacting on their own terms to create something new.
SO: Indie is such a big and lazy term, so if you’re to put yourself in a genre sub-category, however specific, that would include only you as a band, what might that sub-genre be?
Heidi: Genres are reductive, nonsensical and misguiding I find, so we would love to avoid them altogether!
SO: What are the pros and cons of being on tour?
Heidi: Pros: Paid Travel. The world is an amazing place. We went to Norway last week and were transported on an 18th century replica sailboat to our stage.
Cons: If you aren’t careful to prioritize downtime and space to be creative, a whole year can sneakily slip by… This is the conundrum facing many artists I think, because album sales don’t pay their way like they used to and the only way to fund your band is through touring… but if you’re always touring you can’t be writing…
SO: Well done on the Australian Music Prize, tell us about your road to winning and how you secretly always knew you would.
Heidi: The AMP was so far from being ‘in the bag’ that we thought about it as little as possible. Pitting albums against each other is a ridiculous premise in the first place, but if you take a look at the quality of bands in the long and short list- Tame Impala, Kyu, Richard In Your Mind, Gareth Liddiard…- there were so many reasons for us to miss out on this one. It’s a really great thing to be genuinely surprised, and Alister and I were in a taxi in Paris when we got the phone call. The poor taxi driver didn’t know what hit him.
Cloud Control – This Is What I Said
SO: It’s fair to say then that you’re biggest in Australia, but you’re on tour as we speak in the UK. How do the Australian crowds differ from the UK and US crowds?
Heidi: We haven’t toured the US to know how you guys behave at a gig, but we’re all humans, so I imagine groups of people everywhere crammed into tight, smelly, dark environments with flashing lights will act similarly. Of course people in Oz know our lyrics, which creates an energy in the crowd that I wouldn’t trade for a thousand support slots. We’re slowly building a relationship with the UK but we’re still in the dating stage so there’s wariness still present at times. The further you play away from London, the warmer the crowd response, for some reason.
SO: Tell us the unlikely story of the meeting of the band; it’s not the typical friends-of-friends story. What’s next for you guys? More touring?
Heidi: We came together to enter a silly uni band competition. We’d never written songs, Alister and I had never sung, Ulrich had just purchased a drum kit, but we had two weeks to pull something together. It was meant to be all over in a month, but something clicked and we learned how to be a band to the point that we find ourselves doing it full-time in London. I love the twists and turns of life.
We’re living in East London for the meantime, but playing shows around the world so who knows where we’ll end up next year?
Cloud Control – There’s Nothing In The Water We Can’t Fight
SO: Describe growing up in the Blue Mountains.
Heidi: There was isolation if you sought it and always space to be yourself. We were all quite protected and privileged in the stability of our homes and enjoyed a strong sense of community. Our houses backed on to bushland that sloped steeply down to the valley gorge with waterholes and snakes. The perfect place to raise a family. Well done to our parents.
SO: Who are some of your favorite bands you have had the opportunity to tour with?
Heidi: Arcade Fire, Kyu, Richard In Your Mind, The Local Natives.
SO: You have to sum up your sound in one word, go:
Heidi: Optimistic. See para 1 for context.
SO: Love it. Best of luck and thanks SO much!
SO Note: For all Cloud Control info and music visit there website at cloudcontrolband.com, and follow them on Twitter .