“Putting out a record for Avalanches is always a big event,” says Robbie Chater of the Aussie dance pioneers. “They don’t happen very often so we’re stoked.”
No shit! With a 16 year wait between their game-changing debut ‘Since I Left You’ in 2000 and follow-up ‘Wildflower’, fans were pretty chuffed to learn that new record ‘We Will Always Love You’ was on the horizon. “We’re making real progress here!” laughs bandmate Tony Di Blasi. And how! We can taste the fruits of that today as The Avalanches announce that their third album will arrive on December 11, as well as sharing two new singles in the form of ‘Music Makes Me High’ and the guest-heavy ‘Take Care In Your Dreaming’ – featuring Denzel Curry, Tricky and Sampa The Great.
NME caught up with The Avalanches to talk about their new creative streak, looking to the stars for inspiration, sliding into Tony Hawk’s DM’s, and what to expect from album number three. Watch our interview with the above, and check out the new tracks below.
Hello Avalanches. ‘Music Makes Me High’ is a banger with some pretty interesting samples. What can you tell us about the vibe of that track and how it came together?
Robbie: “It was almost like a throwback to the music we grew up and were listening to before we made ‘Since I Left You’ – that classic house feel of the Crydamoure label and the first Basement Jaxx album [‘Remedy’, 1999]. When we found the Salty Miller sample, ‘Music Makes Me High’, it reminded me of ‘Red Alert’ by Basement Jaxx and ‘The music keeps on playing on and on’. We thought, ‘Can we turn into that kind of thing?’ It took a while actually, but then we found the Devoted Soul sample and it just started to click. We’ve got better at making sample-based music. We would have tried to make this song way back when and it probably wouldn’t have banged as hard.
Tony: “We don’t want to be too retro. It’s a nice little throwback to that era.”
What can you tell us about bringing together the all-star cast on ‘Take Care In Your Dreaming’?
Robbie: “We cut the vocal with Denzel Curry last year in Sydney, then the vocal with Sampa The Great and Tricky this year. It’s all a bit of a blur, to be honest.”
Tony: “We’d just come back from LA when Denzel came down. It had been a really big trip, we were jetlagged and he was only going to be in the country for one day. We flew out to Sydney, spent the day in the studio with him and that was quite amazing.”
And what about Tricky – it must feel surreal to have a legend like him involved?
Robbie: “God, we were just kids learning how to sample and with his first record we were just like, ‘What is this?!’ I can’t tell you the amount of times we’ve listened to that record. We started chatting on Instagram when he was in Berlin making his new record. He was on a real hot streak because that record is incredible. We did like six songs in two weeks and two of them have made this record. It was a beautiful alignment where he just happened to be on fire.”
And Sampa The Great is amazing. How did you come to work with her?
Tony: “We did a gig with her at 2017 at the Sydney Opera House with this amazing backdrop and wanted some special guest vocalists so we asked Sampa and she was amazing. We had a couple of hours rehearsal and she popped in. She’s pretty tiny but such a powerhouse with so much charisma. We were like, ‘Man, we’ve got to do a track with her at some point’.”
The ‘We Will Always Love You’ artwork is a pretty striking image of writer and director Ann Druyan, who was also the partner of Carl Sagan. What can you tell us about this image and it’s connection to the album?
Robbie: “This record has a lot about who we are as people and what we’re made out of. We’re exploring different kinds of energy – whether it’s soundwaves, light or our energy as people. We fell in love with the story of how Ann and Carl met and fell for each other. They were chosen to compile different songs and sounds of planet earth to put on to this golden disc and send out in to the cosmos on the Voyager spacecraft in 1977. It was designed to last 1,000 years and it’s still out there floating around. The idea is that one day intelligent life will find it, discover it, and learn a little bit about planet earth. When they were compiling this record, they fell in love. She had planned to record her own heartbeat and put it on the golden record, but the day before she was due to do so he proposed to her. She realised that the sound of a young woman madly in love was captured forever on this golden record. Now it’s floating out there forever in the cosmos! We just thought that was the most beautiful idea.
“We were speaking to Ann about recording her voice to join the songs together on the record, but it didn’t end up working but she allowed us to use this photo.”
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We're very happy to share with you the cover for our new album, "We Will Always Love You". Designed by our dear friend Jonathan Zawada, the sleeve features Ann Druyan, (Creative Director of the Voyager Golden Record Project) , who’s cosmic love story inspired this music. In keeping with the album's theme of everlasting love as an undying vibration, Ann's image was run through a spectograph, turned into sound, and back again. The image remains hidden, deep within in the grooves of the music, for you to discover if you wish. An exploration of the vibrational relationship between light, sound and spirit, "We Will Always Love You" will be available for pre-order next week, with more details to follow soon. Interstellar Love, The Avalanches . Design by @zawhatthe
So the record has quite a cosmic vibe?
Robbie: “Yes, in a very personal way but also in the biggest possible way.”
And what you tell us about collaborating with Tony Hawk to release a vinyl featuring his X-ray?
Robbie: “He posted ‘Since I Left You’ to his Instagram page, then friends of mine who are mad skater fans told us that he loves us. We had already used some of Tony’s X-rays to make a bone record and then he posted his own X-ray.”
Tony: “Then the collab came from dropping straight into his DMs.”
Can you guys skate?
Robbie: “No, not now!”
Tony: “I follow a page on Instagram called Wicked Slams and it’s pretty much all skaters stacking it. I’ll never skate ever again.”
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Lovers of life! In a tribute to the 'bone records' of the 1950's Soviet era, (where banned western records were cut onto X-Ray film and smuggled into the USSR to avoid authorities) we've come together with the one and only @tonyhawk for a unique one off pressing. Printed onto film and mounted onto transparent PVC, this X-Ray of Tony’s June skating injury is limited to one only, and plays our new single 'Reflecting Light' (ft. @sananda.maitreya & @vashtibunyan ) in all it's translucent 45 rpm glory. Donate ANY amount to Tony’s ‘The Skatepark Project’ via the link in our bio, and you will automatically enter the draw to win this one – off 7” record. Thank you @tonyhawk for the work you do and for so kindly offering your X-Ray for this project. @theskateparkproject supports disadvantaged communities and at-risk children, and to-date has awarded over $10-million to more than 600 public skatepark projects across the U.S and $150,000 in support of the Skateistan program in Afghanistan, Cambodia, and South Africa. Thank you @smallrunvinyl
‘Wicked Slams’ should be the name of your next record. Obviously there was a lot of anticipation and expectation in those 16 years between the first two albums. How would you describe the approach to this album and the four years leading up to it?
Robbie: “We definitely felt freed up after finishing ‘Wildflower’. It’s been so joyous to have followed up ‘Since I Left You’ and then be free to make whatever we feel like. This record doesn’t sound exactly like what we’ve done before, and that’s probably the result of following up a sample-heavy epic album with another one and then just knowing we wouldn’t do another one like that. They’re brutal to make.”
Tony: “That 16 year effort was a quest, it was insane. The pressure of 10 years was huge and then it just grew and grew. To get that off our backs was such a relief, and now we just do what we want.”
The Avalanches release ‘We Will Always Love You’ on December 11. Pre-order it here.