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Escape Velocity

It's Raining Where We Are: Yeti Lane Interviewed
Ben Hewitt , June 29th, 2010 11:37

They may not be familiar with Gary Numan, but French duo Yeti Lane have still made one of the year's most sparkling debuts. Ben Hewitt talks to them about hangovers, the sexiness of the French and whether they're becoming the new Sugababes

One of the freshest new sounds The Quietus has heard this year - stepping away from the caverns of glo-fi, chillwave and what-have-you - is the perky Parisian psych pop of Yeti Lane. The self-titled debut from the duo of Ben Pleng and Charlie Boyer was released in late January: a gorgeous mixture of summery, shiny melodies and hazy shoegaze which, buoyed by the fantastic single 'Lonesome George', marked it out as a sleeper candidate for one of 2010's most enjoyable albums.

Ben and Charlie started recording music together in Cyann & Ben, before eponymous founding member Cyann left the band; they, along with other Cyann & Ben alumni LoAc Carron, established Yeti Lane, named after duel releases by Amon Düül II and The Beatles. Now, however, LoAc has left for pastures new too. Undeterred, Ben and Charlie resolved to continue work with Yeti Lane as a two piece, heading quickly back into the studio to record their new EP 'Twice'.

The Quietus caught up with the French duo to discuss sunshine, Kraftwerk and hangovers.

Bonjour Yeti Lane. How are you today? What are you currently up to?

Charlie Boyer: Bonjour. I woke up with a nasty hangover, but I'm OK. I'm going to have a shower, then cook and eat something...

Ben Pleng: Thinking about new songs. Very impatient.

It seems appropriate that we're talking on one of the hottest days of the year so far, because to me, Yeti Lane are the perfect summer band: shiny melodies, gorgeous hooks, shimmering guitars. Is that something you'd agree with?

BP: Weird, cause it's raining where I am right now.

CB: When we started as Yeti Lane, we actually wanted to reach something brighter and more coloured than what we had done before... but as far as I'm concerned, I don't feel that our music is as summery as you say, there is of course some happy melodies and sounds, but there is also a darker side…

So, if any of our readers are still criminally ignorant of Yeti Lane, could you please introduce yourselves? And for those encountering you for the first time, how would you describe both yourselves and your music?

BP: So, Yeti Lane is duet. Charlie and I, Ben. We like sound and a lot of instruments - instruments that make strange noises. So Charlie and I play drums, guitars, synthesizers and strange machines. Maybe our music can be identified as shoegaze/space-rock/dream-pop...

CB: Yeti Lane is always evolving. We've been a three-piece for a couple of years, now we're a duet. The sound and the songs can be different, but we're still in love with vintage instruments and we're still trying to mix pop music melodies and vocals with some more original influences that could vary from krautrock to world music or noisy sonic experiments…

Could you also please give us three musical and non-musical influences?

BP: Eric's Trip, Jim Jarmusch, BioArt.

CB: Wes Anderson, Chuck Palahniuk, Neu!

And tell us a fact about Yeti Lane that no-one else knows?

CB: Neither of us can drive.

BP: I like your answer Charlie...

You're named after releases from Amon Duul II and The Beatles. How did that come about, and why?

CB: It wasn't really on purpose. We first wanted to call the band Yeti, for some reason, but someone from The Libertines decided to call his band Yeti, so we had to change. I don't know how we arrived at Yeti Lane, but we thought that it sounded OK to us. It could remind both of Amon Düül II (Yeti) and The Beatles (Penny Lane) and that's funny because pop music and krautrock are two of our main influences...

BP: Finding a name is the worst exercise I know. We've found those words written somewhere in the street and in a comic book shop, and some of us thought that Amon Düül/Beatles mix was funny.

If your favourite bands were Amon Duul II and Public Enemy would you be called It Takes A Nation Of Yetis To Hold Us Back? Or if your favourite bands were Amon Duul II and Gary Numan would they be called Are 'Yetis' Electric?

CB: We also like Kraftwerk's 'Radioactivity' and the Beastie Boys' 'Check Your Head', but we've been too slow and we discovered that the name Radiohead has already been taken by an obscure English band...

BP: Yes, it could be, but I don't know Gary Numan and don't know so much about Public Enemy. But I'm not sure that we have favourite bands at all, we like so many bands and so many different types of music.

You released your debut album earlier this year, but are about to release your new EP 'Twice'. Why did you decide to get back in the studio so quickly?

CB: Our album came out in France in September 2009, but not until January in the UK. We had a couple of new tracks that we planned to record as soon as possible, but LoAc left the band, so we had to change the plans. We decided to continue as a duo, to work on brand new material and on a new live show. In fact we just kept the recording session scheduled, and we recorded this EP, which is a link between the album, and the new version of Yeti Lane.

BP: The fact that someone left the band is the principal reason. We were thinking about going back in the studio and this just accelerated the process. We wanted to show what kind of band we were now. A new beginning.

Let's talk about the EP. In what way does it mark a progression in your sound?

BP: In this EP we used more electronics. The songs are more stretched and we've been more interested in krautrock and spatial music.

CB: First of all, it's the first recording that we do just Ben and I. The line-up is different now, we had to find a way to play the music that we had in mind, with just the two of us.

For me, the track 'Wave' is the most noticeable departure; and any track which touches upon 'Neon Lights' by the mighty Kraftwerk gets a thumbs up from The Quietus. Were you listening to a lot of German music at the time?

BP: Charlie and I listen to a lot of different music and German music is a really interesting part. We're huge fans of Neu!, Kraftwerk, Can... but didn't listen to this especially when we were working on this EP. It's with us since a long time.

CB: Yes, we were, and we're still listening to a lot of German music. Kraftwerk, Neu!, Cluster, Tangerine Dream, Faust. All these bands have been such a strong influence on me, and I'm still discovering new amazing records from this period. I just bought a Harmonia album for instance. And I saw Faust playing at Pavement's ATP a few weeks ago and it was just terrific. I'm still excited!

We hear you're currently working on a new album. Is 'Wave' an indication of the direction you'll be going on? How is the recording going so far? When can we expect the new album?

BP: We've been starting to work on new songs. We're very impatient people and spend a lot of time playing music together. I'm glad you like 'Wave', it could be a new direction but we never refused ourselves a new sound or any new directions. So it could be something different too.

CB: It's still a bit early to tell how the next album will sound. At this stage, we're just collecting new songs. We jam, we try different directions, but we just have a couple of drafts that are not representative. But we're still working with the same line-up, which is drums, spacey guitars and a bunch of vintage analog synths and echoes... We don't want to rush, we'd like to record it with a good person and at a good place. So if we manage to record in October or November, it might be ready for a release in 2011..

There's been a few line-up changes in the band as of late, with LoAc Carron leaving the band. What's the story behind that?

BP: It was his choice and we respect it.

CB: There is no particular story. LoAc has a wife and two kids, and after almost 10 years of music, with Cyann & Ben then with Yeti Lane, he felt tired and decided to stop. That's a hard decision to take, and we respect his choice. We're still friends, and we still hang out sometimes, even it's less than before...

Rather than replace LoAc, you've chosen to carry on as a two piece. Why did you decide not to recruit anyone else, and how has his departure been both a positive and a negative?

BP: Charlie and I have been playing together for a long time, maybe 15 years. So to integrate someone new is something that could happen, but it's not the first idea we had. Being a duet appeared to us as a new game and we thought it could be a strength.

CB: As Ben said we've known each other for years. We really trust each other and, after the departure of Cyann, then the departure of LoAc, we didn't wanted to recruit someone who might leave, and who wouldn't be as involved and in the same state of mind than we are.

Before Yeti Lane, you were a four piece under the name of Cyann and Benn, before the eponymous Cyann left. Are you worried that one of you may also leave soon? It's starting to resemble a Parisian psych pop version of the Sugababes...

CB: Ha ha, yes now if one of us leaves it's going to be a real problem. But it won't happen, we're so excited about how the new line-up sounds and about the forthcoming songs – we're now stronger than ever!

What new French music should we be keeping an eye out for?

CB: There is a lot of good stuff here these days. Our French label Clapping Music releases a lot of good records (Karaocake, Clara Clara, Centenaire …), Team Ghost is also very promising, and our friends Herman Dune, Zombie Zombie, Turzi, Elboydie, The Berg Sans Nipple, are so good !

BP: Apart from us you should keep an eye on Zombie Zombie, Karaocake, Clara Clara, Team Ghost, Turzi, King Q4, Centenaire, Elboydie, ...

What is it about the French that makes them so good at making sexy pop music? Have Yeti Lane ever considered making a breathy, sexual ditty?

BP: Sorry, but I don't know what band are you talking about. I don't really know this side of French music. And for the consideration of making a sexual ditty, maybe it could be already done...

This is the kind of thing The Quietus was talking about: