Au Revoir Simone's Cool-Girl Style

"That was so fun! It was like therapy," says Annie Hart. We've just asked the three women of Au Revoir Simone to talk about each of the other members' differing styles, and they've taken the concept and run with it. Like their perfectly in sync harmonies, Hart, Erika Forster, and Heather D'Angelo play off each other like clockwork, throwing out sly observations and jokes without dropping the beat for a moment. "Sometimes Annie's inner Drake comes out, and sometimes my inner goth from when I was 15 comes out. I'm a Virgo," explains D'Angelo at one point.
While the band has been making music together for a decade now, Au Revoir Simone hasn't released an album since Still Night, Still Light. But, that's about to change come September 24, with Move In Spectrums, the band's first new LP of gauzy dream-pop in four years. "I think having the space apart gave us the chance to really figure out who we were as a band, and what it was about our music that was fulfilling for us and our audience," says Forster.
Yet, even though time has passed, the band's sound remains blissfully consistent. Behind Au Revoir Simone's army of analog synths, the trio's voices provide a human backdrop to the preset tones. If anything's changed, it's that Spectrums is an exploration of the group's more uplifting side. "I'm really more interested in making dance music, something that's a little more fun — that's what I feed off of in my life. So, that's what I wanted to bring to the table; this boombastic (that's a word we've been throwing around), more exciting, slightly more dance-oriented beat," says Forster. (The band's blasé Twitter bio: "A keyboard band from Brooklyn" grossly undersells its talents.) Ahead, we catch up with Erika, Heather, and Annie to talk the new album, life between records, and their evolving personal style over the years.
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Photograhed by Sunny Shokrae.
It's been a while since Still Night, Still Light. What were you guys working on between albums?
Erika Forster: "Our last album came out in 2009, and we continued to tour through 2010. I was still writing songs and started playing in different bands. I was in this band called Cliffie Swan, another girl psych-rock band. I recorded and put out a solo EP in 2012 and toured a little with that. I was really just enjoying being a New Yorker again, and getting the chance to hang out with my friends, and be home."

Heather D'Angelo: "I've been doing science and music since the band started. Well, science came a little bit later. I started to get a degree from Columbia University, and I've been bouncing back and forth between making an album and finishing up my degree. The crazy thing is that I had to finish my degree; I had to declare a major. The head of my department was like, 'Enough of this craziness! You can't just keep bouncing back and forth until you do your thesis and finish.' I had to take time off to do that. I met an amazing advisor and started working in South East Asia doing soil microbial biology. I totally loved it, and the time apart gave me some perspective on our band. What I realized is that everything happened so organically for us, so naturally, and so quickly. By the time we got to Still Night, Still Light, I kept asking myself how I became a professional musician. I felt like I didn't choose it — I love it, though. It's a great thing that happened, but I feel like I really didn't get five seconds to ask myself if it's what I wanted in life. When everyone's offering you opportunities, you know it's the rarest thing in the world to get to be in a professional band. You don't just say, 'Woah, hold on a second and let me think about that.' You say, 'Yes! Of course I'll tour the world.' Putting all my energy into this other career, and completely shutting off the music side of me for a solid two years (I would still write songs, but the right amount of energy wasn't there) gave me the time I needed to really evaluate if continuing with this project was important to me. I felt a sense of agency for the first time, and like, 'Yes, I choose this. This is what I want.' That's what I'm bringing to this new album; the crazy work ethic Columbia beat into me, the meticulousness, rather than a lackadaisical approach."

Annie, what about you?
Annie Hart: "I was playing in some other bands, too. I was in these dude-rock bands. They were really fun. It was just a bunch of friends letting it all hang out — screaming, playing, going wild. I had a baby, so that took up a lot of my time. But in the early days, they sleep a lot so I would put him in his chair and play piano for hours. It gave me the opportunity to write a lot of songs and experiment."

Heather wears a vintage dress, Erika wears a Madewell top, and Annie wears a white American Apaprel dress.
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Photograhed by Sunny Shokrae.
What's changed in the time between the records?
AH: "I think the most obvious change for me is having more instruments. We made the leap and bought keyboards to try out different things. When you have a band that has the instrumentation like we do, the difference in sound is the difference of our entire personality. Any song is made up of chords and rhythm, but you can get a completely different song based off the soundscape of the keyboard you're playing. It's really fun to go to a radio station and play our songs on a piano because they sound completely different. I think figuring out what sound we wanted, and using the right keyboards to get it there was a big step for us."
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Photograhed by Sunny Shokrae.
EF: "For me, I feel like it gave me the opportunity to reflect on these melancholy songs that come out of us sometimes, but what do I really want to give to the world? We also have a greater understanding of how to get there because we know our instruments and how to work them. We were endeavoring to do more with this album than we've ever done before."
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Photograhed by Sunny Shokrae.
What's one thing each of you bought recently that you're really excited about?
EF: "I got a pair of Joan & David flats. Oh no, I'm going to change that. I got a leather backpack off of eBay. I bike a lot, and I always end up with a backache when I carry a tote bag because I usually bring my laptop. I needed a cool backpack. I had been looking around for a really long time. I had in my mind this backpack that a friend had bought for her mom when we were in high school from Pier 1 Imports. I finally found this backpack on eBay that was exactly what I wanted and that fit my computer. The description (the seller was from Dallas, TX) said: 'This is from Pier 1 from the '90s.' It's beautiful and in really good condition. It has a paisley interior and everything I wanted. It was worth waiting for — and way cheaper!"

HD: "I bought this apricot lipstick from Bite. Creamy, vibrant, goes with everything."

AH: "I really love my Casio SK-5."
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Photograhed by Sunny Shokrae.
What are you guys looking forward to the most for the rest of the year?
AH: "Having this summer heat wave ending."

EF: "We are trying to work on a light show for our performances. I'm excited to see how that turns out. It's inspired by the James Turrell exhibit at the Guggenheim."
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Photograhed by Sunny Shokrae.
HD: "I'm really excited for the moment in time when we realize we can play the entirety of our set exactly how we want it to sound. It's coming up soon."

AH: "I'm really excited to start touring again. I just love playing shows. I've gotten so much better during this break. I've taken voice lessons and started relaxing and dancing more — just having more fun. I'm really excited to enjoy the tour for what it is: a fun opportunity for people who want to hear them. It doesn't get any better than that."
Heather's shoes are from Marais. Erika wears Swedish Hasbeens shoes and a No. 6 skirt.
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Photograhed by Sunny Shokrae.
What do you have around you to keep you inspired when you're writing?
EF: "Definitely what Annie said about the keyboards. Those are such magical ingredients. We got a couple new unique synthesizers, and bringing one into the practice space every day is like, 'Okay, here are some new tricks — some new magic ingredient to play with."

AH: "It's crazy. With some, you can play one sound and you'll get instantly inspired to the point where you can imagine all the different parts of the song, and whether it's going to be an energetic dance song or a moody, intertwining keyboard world. It's utterly astounding."

Erika's vintage cap.
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Photograhed by Sunny Shokrae.
EF: "Sometimes it's like the sounds write the songs. It sounds stupid, but it wasn't a real challenge for us when we were first starting at a younger band. To have a space where we could have all these keyboards set up and ready to go is rare. You often get into a situation where you're sharing a practice space with three other bands, and you have to put everything away each time. Just to be able to have a space where all of our keyboards, all of our resources were there and plugged in was a huge step forward."

AH: "Yeah, a lot of bands don't understand that need. They just plug their guitars into the available amp. For us, it takes about 20 to 30 minutes of inspiration and setting up."

EF: "Some people just work on a computer, too."

HD: "To have our space in Annie's basement was also a huge game changer. It feels like another home. The kitchen is upstairs, and her baby is around a lot; it just feels like a very nurturing, safe space."

AH: "And it doesn't smell like cigarettes!"

How many keyboards do you own collectively?

EF: "I think Annie might have about 20? And Heather..."

HD: "I don't have a lot. I have about four. I always feel like Willy Wonka from Charlie and The Chocolate Factory where everyone is like, 'How many chocolate bars have you eaten?' and they all announce they've eaten 30, and Charlie's like, 'One.' I have one, but it's got the golden ticket."
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Photograhed by Sunny Shokrae.
If you guys could have a theme song every time you walked into a room, what would it be?
All: "The Go-Go's!"

HD: "That's right, and Danny Elfman"

EF: "I would say Daft Punk's 'Get Lucky' or anything by Nile Rodgers."

HD: "P.S. Erika loves Nile Rodgers."

EF: "Or the Pee Wee's Big Adventure song."

AH: "I feel like our whole lives are so busy that I see our lives as this fast-cut montage sequence. Every day it's just a day full of events."

HD: "And they're all weird. Sometimes I'll just look at Annie and be like, 'This is actually the weirdest thing we've ever done' when I said the same thing a week before. You think it could never get any weirder, but it does."

AH: "It's so great. Our lives are so surreal."

HD: "We played a concert where David Lynch recreated the theater from Eraserhead in Paris. I thought that was the weirdest thing we've ever done."

AH: "It's just like, 'How did we end up here?' It's so crazy. We were on the roof of some museum after drinking Champagne with all these fabulous people looking at the Eiffel Tower sparkling in the night. There's so many surreal things happening to us."

HD: "We work really, really hard, and are so lucky to meet all these people who treat us like princesses."

Annie wears a Pilette by Alice Ritter dress.
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Photograhed by Sunny Shokrae.
What's one place you're going to visit on tour that you're most excited about?
AH: "We're going to play in Bratislava in Slovakia. I've never been to Slovakia; I've never thought about going to Slovakia. I can't wait to see what it's like."

HD: "I'm most excited to go back to Japan. We're setting that up now. When we tour in Japan, we tour with this man that's like a dear family member to us. His name is Fumi. He runs our Japanese record label. He'll be taking us around Japan. It's just one of the sweetest, most beautiful little tour vacation ever."

AH: "A tourcation."

Heather's dress is from Gallery Dress.
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Photograhed by Sunny Shokrae.
Do you guys have a lot of time on tour to go shopping?
EF: "We usually get into a town around 4 p.m. If we're very prepared and organized, we can sometimes sneak away. We've gotten to know some secret little spots we like in some towns. Usually we'll need a day off, but we get lucky. We all have cardigans from the day we spent in the Milan airport."

AH: "Some of my best outfits came from there!"
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Photograhed by Sunny Shokrae.
EF: "We got so bored, we just started shopping. The best part of it all is how spontaneous it is. You never know when you're going to have free time. It's so nice having an iPhone, too. You can find what's nearby."

Erika wears a Free People lace top.
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Photograhed by Sunny Shokrae.
Could each of you describe each other's style?
HD: "Okay, so Annie's style is a reflection of literally everything in her life. Annie has been wearing the same-shaped dress since the beginning. She'll just buy the same dress again, again, and again. Even if you gave Annie $5,000 to go get a new wardrobe, she'd buy the exact same thing only it'd be new. She's the same way with music. She has these things she likes, and when she likes them, she likes them. It's really specific."

EF: "I would say the same thing. Her style reflects her taste in music. She can be all Yo La Tengo and Modest Mouse in jeans and a T-shirt. But right now she's really into Drake, and she'll just come out in the shortest shorts you've ever seen and a sequin dress."

HD: "There's a few wild cards in there."

AH: "It's true, though. I've been wearing short-shorts."

EF: "You've been wearing an A-line dress since forever."

AH: "Since I was 17."

EF: "But she's definitely upped her style game."

HD: "She used to be all librarian-chic."

"It's true! I come from a punk-rock background, and I never really enjoyed the artifice, the look-at-me thing. I really like when your style is all 'This is who I am.' As long as it's an honest expression of who you are. If you're a weirdo, look like a weirdo."

EF: "That's why I feel like dressing weird. I feel like I want to encourage the same thing. Let your freak flag fly."

Heather wears a Sparrow top, a vintage skirt, Indian Market bracelets, and Marais shoes. Erika wears a vintage top and Cherokee pants from Malin Landaeus. Annie wears an Only Hearts shirt and Topshop shorts.
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Photograhed by Sunny Shokrae.
Let's do Erika next.
HD: "Erika is a chameleon."

AH: "I was thinking the same thing!"

HD: "She's really playful, and she'll show up with a side pony tail, but it seems so natural. She's able to pull everything off. She's extremely experimental. I think she's the one who has the most fun with fashion. It's an expression of her personality, and how she's feeling that day. If you see Erika show up in a crazy yellow jumpsuit you know she's in an awesome mood.

AH: "Some of my best memories of Erika are vintage shopping together in the far-flung corners of the world. There's definitely a sense of adventure in her. She's got such specific taste that runs the gamut, but it's so specifically Erika. She knows what she likes."

HD: "I feel like there's something cinematic to it. I feel like there's always some wink to some random '80s movie that no one's seen, and it's the minor character. She'll be like, 'You know it's Betty from Keepin' It Real 1982.' You're like, 'No.' She'll name off the outfit, but you just have to accept it."
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Photograhed by Sunny Shokrae.
What about Heather?
EF: "Heather is always put together. That doesn't mean she's serious about her clothes, she just always looks really good. She's not super-trend oriented, but she's very current. She keeps a current wardrobe for every season. She's not attached to things. She definitely follows the philosophy of having a few really great items, and you can never go wrong. I've seen it work with her. All her pieces go together. She definitely got some influence from Columbia. I started seeing more sophistication — she sometimes dresses like she's a professor. She's like that in our band, though. She's always keeping thorough notes."

AH: "I would say I've always thought of Heather as being very chic. She's very sophisticated, but she's got this dark witchy side, too. Sometimes the goth comes out. Yeah, she definitely has her clothes ironed. She gets her dry cleaning done whereas I tend to look like I rolled out of bed."