Indie rock duo Foxygen (Sam France and Jonathan Rado) are releasing their fifth album Hang, full of dynamic and dramatic orchestral arrangements, cool keys, peachy horns and cheeky Muppet harmonies. We posed some questions about it all to the pair.
Q1/ How well acquainted with orchestral instruments were you guys before liaising with Trey Pollard on arrangements? Did you direct him as to which instruments you wanted highlighted on each track?
We were decently acquainted with orchestral instruments going into the process, but we had little knowledge of how to stack the instruments and divide melodies between the instruments. We gave Trey and Matt a detailed moment-by-moment breakdown of the record: how we wanted each part to sound, like “This part sounds like a big band jazz, this is Star Wars cantina music.”
Q2/ No computers were used in the making of Hang – why is this important to you?
We always use analogue tape. Computers are not necessary to our type of music and create more problems than they solve.
Q3/ In the Follow The Leader clip, where did the guy on the horse come from? It looks like he just happened to be hanging out in the park that day.
Yes, correct. It was just a man and his horse, enjoying his day at the park. We “roped” him into being in the video.
Q4/ America is one of the most dynamic (style, tempo, vocal variety) tracks on the album – is that why you chose it for the first single?
Exactly. We felt it best summed up the themes of the record and what we were going for as a whole. Big tune.
Q5/ Trauma seems a companion track to America, to me, with Rise Up being the kind of hopeful conclusion to the trilogy. Am I making these connections up?
You could think of it that way. The second side of the record definitely operates as one piece. We actually originally envisioned Rise Up as the opener to the record, but it felt best as a closer.
Q6/ The kind of clavichord sound that jumps in amongst your more regular piano, is it a real one?
There’s a lot of different keyboards on the record – it depends on what song. On Mrs. Adams we used an old RMI electric piano. There’s also lots of clavinet that pops out. We made it a thing to not use any “synths” on this record (but there’s one hidden in there somewhere).
Q7/ How did you get to know the D’Addario boys [The Lemon Twigs]? Did they contribute any ideas or did they solely play in a session capacity?
They were our hot session band. We had demoed everything beforehand and they learned the parts. A few parts were developed in the studio; Brian played the virtuosic jazz guitar solo coming out of the first chorus of Avalon. But the structure of the songs was already laid out.