Bachelorette, aka Annabel Alpers, is one of those rare artists for whom it takes a few albums and a few tours around the globe to be recognized by a wider audience for the musical genius she is. She is also one of those rare artists for whom you are genuinely excited when you first discover her music, maybe because upon first listen its like swallowing honey in a rip-tide – powerful and unforgiving. Anomalous in the sense that she doesn’t really belong to any one specific genre, her music is strangely universal. Whilst at turns sounding like some obscure, overlooked shoe-gaze album from another era, her music also sounds refreshingly unique and new. Perhaps better known in her native Christchurch, New Zealand, Annabel Alpers is quickly making waves across the states with her current tour opening for the Magnetic Fields. Alpers’ first forays into the music scene were with New Zealand psychedelic outfits Hawaii Five-O, Space Dust and the Hiss Explosion. After completing post-graduate studies in computer-based composition, Alpers found her voice as Bachelorette with her first full album, entitled Isolation Loops, aptly titled because it was recorded in solitude in small hut by the sea in Canterbury New Zealand. To support the album Alpers sold her 1964 Falcon station-wagon to fund a tour in the US where she ultimate teamed up with the legendary record label Drag City. We caught up with Alpers, who is currently on tour with The Magnetic Fields, to support her current self-titled album which was released last year, to ask a few questions her music and inspirations. Read interview after the jump.
PAS UN AUTRE: In early 2006 you hid yourself away in a small hut by the sea, in Canterbury New Zealand to record your first album, can you describe that experience – do you write songs better in isolation?
BACHELORETTE: Staying in the hut was just a way for me to work on music without having to pay rent and to avoid any distractions. I get too easily distracted in cities. I lived very simply and had my little lonesome routines, finding ways to be as productive as possible with the writing and recording. I stayed in another little house by the sea to record the My Electric Family album. For the last album, I really wanted to train myself to be able to work on music in any environment, because I was touring a lot, staying with different people in different cities. I never got the hang of it though and resigned myself to the fact that I need to isolate myself to be able work on music. I ended up renting a guest house in the Virginia countryside for a couple of months to finish the bulk of that album.
AUTRE: How has growing up in New Zealand inspired your work?
BACHELORETTE: I listened to a lot of New Zealand music when I was a teenager – Flying Nun stuff like the Tall Dwarfs, the 3-Ds, Bailter Space… I think it was inspiring to see New Zealanders making original music that was valued internationally, who created some sense of a cultural identity that I could relate to. I’m sure I’ve been inspired by the natural beauty of the place, and by the large amounts of space and time available. There wasn’t a lot to do there as a teenager, so I would listen to records a lot.
AUTRE: When was the first time you discovered you wanted to make music?
BACHELORETTE: I had a fantasy when I was about 9 years old of being a Pat Benetar type figure. I imagined performing in the Christchurch town hall with a choir of children behind me. I got more realistic about playing an instrument and singing around the age of 12, and joined my first band at school when I was 13. We played Beatles covers and I was on bass. I always wanted to be in a band.
“The computer is
my folk instrument.”
AUTRE: Who are some of your biggest musical influences or inspirations?
BACHELORETTE: Over the years: The Beatles, Syd Barrett, Tall Dwarfs, Cocteau Twins, Aphex Twin, Brian Eno… My mind goes blank when I’m asked these things. I’ve never tried to replicate anyone else’s sound, but I know that what I’ve listened to over the years would have influenced the music I make in a less conscious way.
AUTRE: Your music is very unique – how would you describe your current sound?
BACHELORETTE: I’ve been calling it ‘computer folk’ for a while now. I feel like a folk musician in the sense that I’m not professionally trained and I just make songs about everyday stuff. The computer is my folk instrument.
AUTRE: You are currently on tour with The Magnetic Fields – how did you team up with The Magnetic Fields?
BACHELORETTE: I’d like to have an exciting story to tell you, but really my booking agent just ran Bachelorette past the Magnetic Fields as an option for playing support, and I guess they said yes… I feel really lucky to be playing with them though. I love their songs and can’t wait to see them play a bunch more times.
AUTRE: Whats next?
BACHELORETTE: It’s a mystery. I have some music I want to make that doesn’t quite fit into the indie touring world. I also want to write songs for other performers… I’m thinking of ways that I can keep making music that don’t involve touring too much. It’s time for a change, music- and lifestyle-wise.
Vist Bachelorette’s page on Drag City Records for more news, links, video, and current tour schedule. Text by Oliver Maxwell Kupper for Pas Un Autre