Published Aug 15, 2013If second-album syndrome saddles many an aspiring indie band with self-conscious tunes, half-baked concepts and uninvited orchestral flourishes, Braids' symptoms suggest something more serious. Funded by Native Speaker's profits, the forthcoming Flourish//Perish's sonic and creative expansion — now streaming here on Exclaim.ca — engendered some serious growing pains. Most pressingly, singer Raphaelle Standell-Preston fell out with keyboardist Katie Lee, leading to the latter's departure and estrangement. The rift, according to Standell-Preston, appeared when Lee — left in "creative limbo" (drummer Austin Tuft's words) by the transition to Ableton — started to pursue more vocal and lyrical input.
"I don't know if this is conceited," Standell-Preston tells Exclaim!, "but I feel my voice is a very important element in Braids. It seemed so jarring to me, to think I wasn't gonna sing as much. 'Cause it's all I really wanna do. That was really hard for our friendship. Not having that support, feeling like it was jeopardizing what I wanted to do. Her not understanding that, and me not supporting her wanting to do that. And Austin [Tufts] and Taylor [Smith] being really confused, because they like my voice. And they're like, 'Why are we doing this? We're so far into the record! Why do we wanna do this?!'"
Though Standell-Preston emphasizes the departure's necessity in opening creative floodgates, there's some residual doubt. "It's true that we might've lost someone who could offer necessary criticism," she reasons. "But you have to try not to worry about that too much. She's not in the band anymore... I'm still angry, but I miss Katie a lot from time to time."
Elsewhere, the record deals with insecurity, crumbling friendships and technological alienation, all of which decorate Raph's spacey interior universe. While admittedly self-obsessive, Standell-Preston, who's battled depression since her early teens, doesn't want listeners getting the wrong impression.
"I don't like thinking I'm obsessed with myself," Standell-Preston says, "'cause I also really love gardening with my friends, and think a lot about my relationships with them and care about their lives. [But] I think the biggest problems sometimes are within yourself. I mean, you are of your body, and that's kind of what you need to get under wraps before you can do anything else. And because we're well-hydrated in North America, what becomes most important is your mind, and taking care of that. Otherwise you can't really function. Something that's been important for me is reeling in my mind, being able to manage it, so that [laughs] I can find more important things than myself, or things outside of myself."
Flourish//Perish is out August 20 on Flemish Eye. Stream it at Exclaim.ca here.