After releasing their latest EP, In This Game, back in February 2015, Complicated Animals have marked their indie nova (American indie pop + Brazilian Bossa Nova) signature in the unconventional genre territory. Their sound is a hybrid affair of glimmering Brazilian percussions lying on a chillax indie cadence that invite listeners from both genres to a hive mind enjoyment. Comprised of the duo Mônica da Silva and Chad Alger, Complicated Animals released their music video “Phoenix” a month ago where we see Mônica delve into the occult. We chatted with Mônica who shared how they coined their band name, working on their EP, and being indie novists.
Why did you guys chose “Complicated Animals” as your new band’s name?
Mônica: Well, we’ve been thinking for a while what we were gonna do for our band name cus we were going under my name before. And we were kind of going back and forth with the band names and throwing back and forth. I kept coming back to “Complicated Animals” cus it made sense for us. We like to analyze people a lot and we’re always thinking about people’s behavior and we kept coming back at saying how people are “complicated animals”…so I looked it up and saw that no one had taken that name and we knew we needed to use that. So that’s pretty much why.
Who came up with the concept for your new music video “Phoenix”?
M: Well, it was a collaboration between Chad and I. Chad actually ended up shooting and directing the whole thing.
For your new EP, In This Game, did you work with other music producers?
M: No, we did it all ourselves.
How long did it take you to write the entire EP?
M: From total completion start to finish, about a year. Just because we were focused on trying to get each song perfect and we actually even recorded more songs than that. But those were the songs that we really trimmed it down to if we really wanted to just release an EP and we were trying to make it a cohesive album, so were really taking our time to pick the songs and make it flow. So it took about a year, we recorded in Michigan – actually. My grandmother lived in Michigan before, she has a house in the woods so we decided to go there and just isolate ourselves and work on the music.
And what’s your favorite song from the new album?
M: It’s a tie between “Phoenix” or “Drive Around in Cars.”
Do you by chance know Chad’s favorite one?
M: I think it might be the second one, “O Que Passou.” It’s the Portuguese one.
So when you guys are working together, do you contribute equally in everything or split the tasks in the sense that you write the lyrics while Chad does most of the production?
M: Mainly I do the lyrics and the melody. He does more of the music, so it is kind of like that. But the songs come about in different ways, sometimes they start with a melody and lyrics; sometimes they start with the chords. So sometimes I would wake up with an idea…for “Phoenix” I woke up in the morning and just had this idea. The melody and lyrics were ready for “Phoenix” and I sang it to him and said, “We have to do this song.”
And have you guys thought about venturing out of the genre “indie nova” that you guys basically made it up?
M: Yeah we have. We actually write different things in different styles, but I feel like our collaboration is…we try to keep it cohesive a little bit, but we have been experimenting with different things.
What are some pros and cons you face making up your own genre of music?
M: That’s actually a good question. Well…it’s different because when you make your own genre sometimes it’s not exactly…you know, some people just want to hear Brazilian stuff or they just want to hear indie, so when you create your own genre some of the cons are that you aren’t in just one genre when I’m trying to classify our music for different things and people are asking what is it and if they are purists and they just want Brazilian, they wouldn’t be 100% into it. But I found out for the most part people’s reactions are more positive because those who normally wouldn’t listen to Brazilian music, get into it because of the indie aspect or the opposite way too.
Can you tell us some of the musical influences that lead you to create this genre?
M: Well, it really started out with us writing mainly Brazilian-esque songs when we met, but our influences go everywhere. I love European pop. Some of my favorite bands were The Smiths and a lot of stuffs like that. Currently Grizzly Bear is one of our favorites, Chad really likes that and Kings of Convenience. A lot of Brazilian music also. So all kinds of music from all over the world.
What are your plans for 2016?
M: The plan for us is to mainly work on new music, we’ve been recording a lot. We’re not sure if we’ll either release an album or EP, but we have a lot of songs that we’ve recorded and we’re trying to record everything that we have right now and get it done as fast to the best we can. We’re talking about releasing a couple of EPs.
Aside from genre-crafting, Mônica’s superpowers include coming up with cool phrases like “as fast to the best we can.”
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