THE RAVEONETTES is the project of Danish duo Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo, and this year marks the tenth anniversary of the release of their debut EP Whip it On. Their latest album, Observator, sees them being reunited once again with producer Richard Gottehrer (known for his work with Blondie and The Go-Gos), who worked with them on their earlier 60s-girl-group-inspired LP Pretty in Black. Observator adds a darker contemplative streak to the Raveonettes’ repertoire, using subtle delicacies of piano weaved into guitar riffs for good measure, but still throwing in that familiar 50s’ surf sound drizzled with noise. Following in the footsteps of Jim Morrison, the new album took the band to the legendary Sunset Sound Studios for recording. Whilst they found this experience inspiring, the band claims Observator did not become ‘The LA’ album, “It’s a collection of observations that occur in life…and life happens everywhere,” Sune tells me.
Although he’s just moved to Los Angeles from New York City, and is still surrounded by boxes, I manage to grab Sune for a quick cross-Atlantic chat to find out more about the magic and meaning behind that Great Love Sound.
Bido Lito!: We know you’ve spent a lot of your life in the States, but tell us about the Danish scene when you were growing up.
SRW: At the time there was a lot of good music in Denmark, and there were lots of bands who I was inspired by. I think that because I grew up in Sønderborg, a small town near the German border, I always had an urge to move outward and discover the world… So that was the driving force behind it all, really.
Bido Lito!: Do you think you bring a particularly Danish stamp to your work? Did you come from a music background or were you seen as the breakaway child?
SRW: [laughs] I didn’t grow up with music on my parents’ side, so I had to discover it myself. Being a child of the 70s and 80s I was introduced to hip hop music. I really fell in love with it and I’ve been in love with it ever since! After that I had to discover more music. I went to the library and read a lot of books about music history. I stumbled upon a lot of music from the 50s and 60s, and so I fell in love with that type of music as well.
Bido Lito!: How much would you say you’ve been able to incorporate this love for hip hop into your music? Your third album Lust Lust Lust is pretty drum machine-heavy and uses a great mix of beats and noises.
SRW: Yes I think we’ve always done that…we sample a lot of old records and use break beats, and then twist them around a little bit. I got a drum kit when I was five years old so I’ve always loved the whole drum part of music… Using samples you could always get the sound you wanted for each song so all the songs sounded different in their drum approach, I’ve always found that very appealing.
Bido Lito!: Whatever the blend of genres, there always seems to be that recognisable thread of the ‘Raveonettes Sound’; your voices and use of harmonies are so distinct. But each album sounds unique at the same time. What do you think ties the albums together?
SRW: We were always very much interested in all things electronic. People thought we were this garage sort of band who would only listen to a certain type of music, and that we always used instruments from a certain era, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. All our music was made on computers and used samples, even the guitars weren’t played with amplifiers, they were just played directly into the computer. So we were always much more electronic than most people think.
Bido Lito!: On both Whip it On and Chain Gang of Love you wrote all the songs in a set key. What was the thinking behind that?
SRW: I was experimenting with different guitar tunings at the time, and I found that tuning the low E string down to a B flat made a really nice sound. It was good to challenge yourself as a songwriter… It forced you to come up with something that was different from whatever everyone else was doing. So yes, I guess it was a conscious decision after I figured out what the key was!
Bido Lito!: Did you have a clear idea of what you wanted to achieve with Observator?
SRW: Not really, the new album was kind of open. We don’t make anything complicated. I was always in love with simple music, everything from Buddy Holly to Suicide to the Velvet Underground. You know Hank Williams made a legend for himself by just using three chords? And for that matter so did The Ramones. It seemed very honest and simple music and I always admired that.
Bido Lito!: So, after releasing your sixth album are you tempted to get more into film?
SRW: It’s something I’d like to explore, but these things take time. Now I’m in LA I’ve got many great contacts [for] film music; it’s definitely something I want to do more of. But The Raveonettes will always be my first love, no matter what I do on the side.
Bido Lito!: You released a solo album in Danish a few years back, would you do another?
SRW: I’d like to do another solo album, yeah. Maybe… a solo in English, something like that? Out in LA there won’t be as many distractions so I think I’ll be writing a lot more than I’m used to.
AG: As the ‘observator’, are there any bands out at the moment you’ve been keeping your eye on?
SRW: Yeah, Savages. They’re four girls from London. They are very confrontational in their songwriting which is great and they’ve got the potential to be a really amazing band.