"It's been a big nightmare."
Phoenix have opened up on the challenges of creating their most ambitious live set-up yet, which has seen the synth-pop pioneers playing underneath a giant mirror.
The set was debuted at festivals last summer, and features an angled mirror that hangs at an angle, reflecting everything that’s happening on stage. It’s also been paired with varied projections and images looping on a screen beneath the band’s feet.
Speaking to NME ahead of their show at London’s Alexandra Palace tomorrow, guitarist Laurent Brancowitz revealed how it had been heavily influenced by a photo of a 1930’s Parisian theatre show, taken by photographer Brassaï.
“First we had this idea about a floor that lit up”, Brancowitz revealed.
“This was a fantasy but we realised that nobody would see it except us, so we understood it was maybe not a good idea. But that combined with a design inspiration, which is a picture from Brassai of a French show from the 1920s.
“We saw a picture of the French setup, with this big mirror – a giant mirror – and girls pretending to be, like optical illusions. Those two ideas collided and so we combined those, and then we worked for a lot of
time on this staging. It’s been a lot of fun.”
But with a giant mirror at the centre of their set, it’s no surprise that the show has proved tricky to transport.
“It’s been a big nightmare. It’s huge and it’s very complicated. So every day is a fight against the elements, against gravity”, Brancowitz admitted.
“But it’s part of the fun you know. When it’s too easy, it’s not a good sign. Now it’s kind of well oiled so I think for this show in London it should be exactly what we had in mind when we started thinking about it.”
And as for the show itself, Brancowitz claimed that there has always been a “political side” to the band’s music, despite appearing to seemingly steer clear of overly political statements.
“I think that we stay out of it because we are lumbered working or our visions, and so our visions stand out”, Brancowitz affirmed.
“In the sense that, I think that we have a lot of things we all have in common. So that would be the first thing, the second thing is I think that when you’re doing some kind of artistic work, seriously I think there’s
always a political side to it. Even if you talk about a fantasy land, if you do it seriously then something political will come out. From rejecting preconceptions, you know, opening your heart to emotions.
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“All these kind of things they are political. So I think in a way especially this album, is very political. Because the fact that it is totally absent, in this particular moment in human history you know, it has a meaning of ‘you have to escape.’ One way to escape is to build a fancy new world. Obviously there are other ways that art forms compete, but that’s our way.”
Phoenix are playing Alexandra Palace tomorrow night.