Since the mid 2000s, Erika Spring has established a dream-like signature sound with her synth-pop group Au Revoir Simone. Full of reverberated chords and pattering drums, it’s so ethereal that filmmaker David Lynch has given it his stamp of approval several times. When that band took a break from touring a couple of years ago, she took that sound even further with the music she recorded for her self-titled debut EP, which you can hear below. Punctuated with sharper pop hooks, stronger beats and a sublime Eurythmics cover, it presents a different angle of her sound. “If you’re in a band and you say you want to sound like, say, Blondie — as hard as you try, you’ll always sound like you,” she explains. “I feel like I already understood that concept, so I wanted write something that sounded cool and excited me and honored the songs I’ve been writing.”
As for Au Revoir Simone, Spring and her bandmates will be putting out a new album around the beginning of next year. “We needed some other elements to break up our lives,” Spring says of the trio’s hiatus. “It was such a blessing to settle back in and be a New Yorker again.” Spring was kind enough to let us interrupt her and her bandmates’ progress on the album to talk about the genesis of her first EP.
It’s rumored you wanted this EP to be more of a folk project. What brought you back to electronics?
I had gotten this dulcimer that I was strumming and trying to write songs on. I was just trying to inspire myself and break out in different directions. Ultimately, I write most of my songs on keyboards, so it just brought me back to that. The EP does have electric guitar, bass and live drums, though, but it’s a different set of drum sounds. It definitely filled that “I want to do something new” category.
When you began writing, were they much different than what you recorded?
More than anything, my early demos were more distorted, more aggressive, more … I hate to use the word “experimental,” but they were less straightforward. I was distorting the vocals so it wouldn’t sound natural. I didn’t want it to sound like you’re in a room with someone cooing you a love song, I wanted it to sound more aggressive, more strong, more abrasive in some places. It was just the energy I was feeling from the keyboard sounds I was getting into.
When you decided to abandon the distorted vocals, and work on the EP as it is, did you find yourself saving songs for Au Revoir Simone?
I did. It was funny. When I was writing songs, there was a real distinction. There was one song that we’re working on now that I wrote that just from the beginning I felt fit the format of an Au Revoir song.
Have you always wanted to cover the Eurythmics’ “When Tomorrow Comes”?
Embarrassingly, I didn’t even know that song until a couple of years ago. I discovered it at my friend’s house. He had one of those 100-disc changers, and I was trying to find something to listen to on it, and I saw Eurythmics’ Greatest Hits. And that song came on, and I was just so captivated, I had to learn it. I just loved it. I could relate to the words. The idea of loving someone and being completely happy in that love — not feeling the need to have it reciprocated or go anywhere — I feel like it’s really beautiful. Just lying next to somebody and being happy that you’re there. I loved that and felt like I wanted to repeat those words.
When do you feel most inspired to write your own songs?
I have a lot of song ideas just while I’m falling asleep at night. So either those kinds of things or just turning up my amp really loud at my practice space and listening to different sounds and getting excited and making patterns, sort of the same way I’ve always written songs. The lyrics were pretty abstract. A lot of the lyrics I ended up keeping were lyrics that just came up when I was first writing the melody. At the time, they didn’t necessarily mean anything, but in retrospect I can look back at them and go, That’s what my subconscious meant by this.
Is coming up with music while you’re falling asleep something that’s very effective?
Not all of my half-asleep ideas are good. I feel like if they’re speaking strongly to me, though, I can trust them. Like, there’s something in this, something is trying to tell me something.
Erika Spring is out now on Cascine. Stream the entire release below: