I met BRAIDS last Saturday night at the main entrance of the Manchester Cathedral. Austin, Taylor and Raphaelle were there for the C O L U M N S music festival and had just finished dinner. They were scheduled to play on a small stage inside the massive National Football Museum, just before Purity Ring’s show at the main stage. The sky was cloudy, but it didn’t rain as we walked from the Cathedral’s
main entrance to the Museum door. They walked me to their dressing room where we had the chance to sit down and talk for a while.
I gave them some post-its and markers and asked them to write or draw whatever would come to their minds. Here’s what they did:
Then, I threw in some words, which you can read below!
After the interview, I went back to the Cathedral to see Ghostpoet, and it was around 11 pm when BRAIDS got up on stage. They opened with “Letting Go”, the first track off their new record Deep In the Iris. “Sore Eyes” was next, perfect for a cheerful crowd dancing to the sound of the suggestive lyrics.
“Miniskirt”, one of the highlights of the same LP, was a spine-chilling experience “I’m not a man hater, I enjoy them like cake,” sang Raphaelle. “But in my position I’m the slut, I’m the bitch, I’m the whore, the one you hate.” The lonely piano start turned into relentless, outpouring synths, submerging us all into this anthemic, deeply personal song: “That was the most shared that song has felt”, she said in the end. I couldn’t agree more. It was incredible.
Austin: Calgary is home.
Raphaelle: Calgary has a beautiful horizon line in the distance which is the mountains and something I greatly miss looking out on to.
Taylor: I would definitely say family. I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say home. It’s been a long time since we’ve lived there, but my family lives there.
Austin: Wow. Okay!
Raphaelle: I don’t know why but that’s the first thing I thought. I just thought like really hot european men, to be honest.
Austin: We’re still doing first things that comes to your mind?
Austin: That’s the first thing that came to my mind. Sprinter vans. Hospitality. Everyone in Europe treats bands to dang well. It’s amazing. We come over and we play for the same amount of people that we play for in North America and they treat us so much better. Every promoter is so happy to have you!
Taylor: History. I’ve been listening to a University course from UC Berkeley on European history from 1648 to the First World War and it’s very cool to drive around all that I’ve heard about. All these nations fighting each other.
Raphaelle: Being conquered by Napoleon.
Taylor: When we were on the ferry and seeing the white cliffs of Dover, I was thinking, “This channel, France and Britain going to war so often and so many naval battles.” And thinking about the Second World War and those were the beaches that were stormed like in Normandy. It’s just crazy how much history there is in this! The whole world has a history. There’s not more history here but it’s so relevant to our culture. Canada is such a new country. There’s not that much that went on and the stuff that went on is not that interesting in comparison. So, it’s cool to be here!
Austin: Now we all know where our minds are at: cheese, men and history.
Austin: Life. We just do it so much. The highs are high and the lows are low.
Raphaelle: I think about how I get to see my best friends at all hours of the day and grow fond of them and grow tired of them all at the same time and love every moment with them.
Taylor: A very pure… Not pure emotional experience.
Raphaelle: It’s intense. Concentrated emotions.
Taylor: It’s very exciting. It’s a whole lot of new thrown at you all the time.
Taylor: Or lack thereof.
Austin: Make a schedule and then have it turned on its head hourly. You can never account for all the shit that’s gonna go wrong on tour. No matter how hard you plan, something will go wrong that is out of your control that will change everything that you’re doing. Purity Ring, the band we’re touring with, so fucking organized, ridiculous, and they had three tour buses break down on them in three weeks. You never know.
Austin: I love cooking! I cook all the time, food is really exciting! It’s not just sustenance, food brings people together, and that should go in the Europe pile right here because the appreciation of spending that time to eat and to prepare food is so much stronger over here in Europe. Food is the best way to show someone you appreciate them. I can’t think of a nicer way to express your love for someone than making them a meal. And I can’t think of a nicer thing to do with someone than going out and eating together.
Raphaelle: I was just thinking of food bringing people together. And I guess that, as how busy my life is in Montreal and even on the road, I sometimes find food an inconvenience. I enjoy when things taste good and I enjoy when it is in front of me but searching it out and making sure that I eat a balanced, healthy diet is just a lot to think about and kind of inconvenient. I’ve always told these guys that if I had a superpower it would be to make amazing meals appear instantly at the snap of my fingers!
Taylor: At home, food is an inconvenience and a huge source of stress, but on tour, food is the most exciting thing. It’s so fun! Also a source of stress though, because we often forget to eat or our schedule is too rammed to be able to really eat. Like it’s either you eat or you sleep and when the alarm goes off you inevitably take sleep.
Raphaelle: Except when your stomach is like a clenching fist.
Taylor: But we’ve gotten really good at training our bodies not to expect food until 2 pm in the afternoon, which isn’t great.
Raphaelle: Food on tour is this thing that just comes and goes. When it comes there’s an abundance of it and when it goes you just like don’t eat for like 12 hours.
Austin: Or when you do eat it’s just a sandwich with mayo on it.
Raphaelle: Ew! Shitty baguette!
Austin: That was really gross.
Raphaelle: And that’s all we had for hours.
Austin: At the ferry terminal in Calais coming over to Dover. It was the worst sandwich ever.
Taylor: I don’t know though.
Raphaelle: That was the worst sandwich I ever had in my life.
Taylor: Think about like a vending machine sandwich.
Raphaelle: I would have rather had a vending machine sandwich.
Austin: It was not the worst sandwich ever.
Raphaelle: It was the worst sandwich ever.
Austin: It was expensive and the guy made it fresh for us there. He was really enthusiastic and excited about it.
Raphaelle: I thought he was annoying!
Austin: And he put so much mayonnaise on the sandwich.
Raphaelle: There were these huge jars bigger than our heads and there was like a pump.
Austin: And he put like three full pumps of mayonnaise on each sandwich.
Austin: It is so important to be present. If you can be present in your everyday life I think it alleviates a lot of the bullshit that you don’t need to worry about. People stress out about the past and the future way too much. For me, the present is always the least stressful tense. There’s always shit that’s happened that I wish didn’t happen or that I feel sad or nostalgic about and there are always stressful things that are happening in the future that I know are going to stress me or that I’m nervous about, but pretty much dealing with the present is the easiest and most important thing that anyone can do, I think.
Raphaelle: I think that if there’s something that brings me to the present is the breath. As soon as you focus on the breath you just become very present in the moment, breathing in and out and focusing on that. That’s something that’s always with us. From each moment that’s the one consistency we have as human beings. Our breath is always there, otherwise we’re not alive.
Taylor: Happy birthday!
Raphaelle: To you!
Austin: Happy present!
Raphaelle: Present tense: Wild Beasts record, it’s such a good fucking record. “Wanderlust”, the first song on the record, it’s a great song.
Raphaelle: Unknown, always a great unknown, and if it were known it would be very boring.
Austin: I feel that it’s hard for somebody in our lifestyle position to have any clear idea of what the future will actually bring for us. We dream a lot and have a lot of ideas and aspirations, but there’s so much uncontrollable just for our lifestyle. And I think that if the present is the least stressful tense, the future is definitely the most exciting tense, because there’s just so much to look forward to.
Taylor: I try not to think about the future too much, because it’s needlessly stressful.
Raphaelle: But you do plan with money.
Taylor: Yeah, but that’s not…
Raphaelle: That’s not thinking about the future. That’s being in the present and saving money.
Taylor: I guess it’s thinking about the future, but I guess trying to keep one’s mind focused on the present is very important and ultimately leads to like, a more fulfilling life.
Raphaelle: It’s all that we have, which is so strange to think about. We don’t have the future and we no longer have the past. We don’t even have two seconds ago. It’s gone. All gone. I’m really tired. Do you have one that’s sleep? Can we talk about sleep?
Raphaelle: My focus, my creativity, my expression, my best friends.
Austin: The best thing I’ve ever done in my life.
Raphaelle: Start a band! Start BRAIDS, yeah, totally. That was a good idea.
Me: I agree!
Raphaelle: Way to go guys! Good idea!
Taylor: I just think of you guys and getting to share experiences together, and having music be the vehicle for that.