60 Seconds With POP ETC (Formerly The Morning Benders) About Its D'Angelo Obsession

chris
As you may have heard, The Morning Benders are now POP ETC, and will be releasing the much anticipated follow-up to 2010’s Big Echo on June 12 via Rough Trade. The new video for “Live It Up” from the upcoming self-titled record sees frontman Chris Chu singing in breathy auto-tune straight into the camera. It’s a smoothly low-key R&B jam, and like the band’s new name, unmistakably catchy. We were lucky enough to catch up with Chris about making the video, his love for Mariah, and what “pop” means to POP ETC.
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The video for "Live It Up" has this single-shot, almost D’Angelo feel going for it. What what was the concept behind the video, and what inspired it?
'Live It Up' is such a warm and intimate song, we wanted to make a video that complimented that intimacy in a simple way. A video that allowed people to come close to us. We feel like a lot of music videos compromise simple, strong concepts for the sake of a certain aesthetic or a certain pacing, and we didn't want to do that. We wanted to make it as simple and honest as possible. A video that plainly says: 'This is who we are.'"
It seems pretty spontaneous at the end of the video when you break character. How many takes did you film to get the version you wanted?
“We did a couple takes to try different things, and tweak the lights, then we took a break and went and had some drinks. We came back and did one more take, and that's what you see here.”
I could imagine “Live It Up” playing at quite a few barbecues this summer. What’s the ideal listening situation for “Live It Up”?
“Super late at night or very early in the morning.”
“Live It Up” would fit nicely alongside the artists on your recent mixtape like Ace of Base and Mariah Carey, but what would go through your head if you heard “Live It Up” on a Top 40 station next to someone like Justin Bieber?
“That's a huge compliment for us. Mariah Carey is a goddess. Thank you.
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"Being on the radio next to Biebs would be a dream come true. We love Justin Bieber and we want as many people to hear our music as possible. That's why we make it. For the people!!!”
Did you feel freed-up to change your sound when you changed the band’s name, or were you moving toward the new sounds before you made the decision?
“We had already made the album when we decided to change the band name, so this is where we were always going. Freedom to change and try different things is very important to us. I think if we ever feel boxed in, or like we are repeating ourselves, we'll just stop making music. There's no point if the art stops feeling fresh.”
This is sort of a broad question, but how do you define “pop”?
“Quite difficult to answer in such a short space, but I think pop music is music that gives you something to hold on to. Something that resonates and stays with you after the song is done. It can be a melodic hook, or a lyric, or a rhythm, or something more ambiguous like a groove or a feeling… but it's that focus. That honing in on on one or two key elements that makes music pop.”
What’s one thing you always remember to take with you when you go out on tour?
“My headphones and my copy of D'Angelo's Voodoo.”
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