We caught up with Suuns’ lead singer and songwriter Ben Shemie and Montreal-based director Charles-Andre Coderre about their striking thermal camera music video, their newest record Hold/Still, and what tasty heavy jams they’re into these days.
Hey guys! Thanks for taking the time to chat with us about the newest record. Can you tell us a little bit about how this album differs from your earlier stuff?
BEN: This is perhaps our most challenging record to date. At every stage of the production we wouldn’t allow ourselves to make easy decisions that would otherwise smooth out the edges. The decisions we made were bold and uncompromising. Unlike our previous releases that would ease the listener into more challenging territory, on Hold/Still we just drop you right into the shit. It is also our most collaborative album as a unit, not just within the band but our first time working with a producer, who encouraged us to sound like ‘us’.
It appears that there are two sides to the record, incorporating a give and take of sexual and spiritual resistance. Can you explain your process of how you wrote & arranged the songs on the album?
BEN: Typically the songs come together through demos that I throw together at home. Sometimes these demos capture a simple vibe that we try to hold onto through the development of the song. Other times the songs become something very different. On this record we tried to play as much off the floor as possible to have a cohesive band sound. Since we thrive as a live band our songs generally come together through playing them over and over and over… Depending on the song, it becomes fairly obvious what needs to be rearranged fairly quickly. Its an intuitive process. Lyrically, the content is a culmination of ideas bubbling through touring and the general timbre of everyday life.
What kind of messages were you trying to portray in each video? Are there connecting messages with each video released?
CHARLES-ANDRE: In the beginning of the process, the band showed me the work of Jacques Clovere, the creator of the SUUNS video game for the “Brainwash“video. Then, I tried to keep a video game vibe in each video. In the first video, I tried to create a parallel world that can becomparedto a video game. For me, Joe, Liam, Ben, and Max are turning slowly into unconventional video game character by being filmed by a thermal camera. I think it fits well with the strange and weird aesthetic that Jacques Clovere had created for the Brainwash video.
Then, I wanted to set the second video in an environment that can be seen as a real videogame to make the transition with the last video. We decided to shoot the video in a Laser Tag.
The background for the “Paralyzer” video is pretty interesting, indoors and foggy. Can you tell us how you came up with the setting? Did the lyrics of the song influence your use of light and effects?
CHARLES-ANDRE: The lyrics dictated the action of the characters in the Laser Tag and the way we shoot Ben singing. We wanted an aggressive vibe for Ben. Then, we came up with this idea of the metallic teeth in the complete darkness. Also, when we visited the Laser Tag for the first time, the background reminded us a lot of the first Alien movie directed by Ridley Scott. We knew it would be perfect for this song. Then, with my DOP (Director of Photography), Yann-Manuel Hernandez, we tried to accentuate the “sci-fi horror mood” with the lights and the theatrical smoke.
The video for Translate is awesome. How did you come to use the thermal camera to film it?
CHARLES-ANDRE: Beyond the fact that I wanted to create imagery thatcan be related in a certain way to a video game, I was very inspired by a French film called La Vie Nouvelle directed by Philippe Grandrieux.There is afamous scene in infrared black and whitethat inspires me a lot. However, the movie isvery dark and terrific. For the SUUNS music video, we tried to keep a dark vibe but at the same time, we wanted to incorporate a psychedelic mood by modifying thermal colours in post-production.
What was the idea behind releasing accompanying remixes for each single release?
BEN: Weve always been a band heavily steeped in electronic music. We released a remix package on our last record through Turbo records in Montreal. Remixing has become kind of a weird and annoying promotional tool for indie bands. Bands remix each others’ stuff, only to die on YouTube a couple days later. As our band has drawn on electronic music since the beginning it just seems natural to have remixes done by electronic artists. And since these producers are also club DJs, there is a cool feeling knowing that your remixes are being blasted to unknowing audiences in clubs around the world. Maybe just for a second these remixes will be played really loud in a huge dark room. It will eventually die on someone’s USB key… But it’s pretty cool to be part of that drone for a summer or two.
Any new bands you’re excited aboutat the moment? Could you pick a song to add to our Spotify Secretly Indie Playlist?
BEN: Big Brave. Southern Lord records. From Montreal. Tasty heavy jams.
Finally, what’s the best way to keep updated with you all?
BEN: Come to our show and say hello. (here’s tour dates so you can do just that)