The Courettes – Back in Mono (Q&A)

Flavia of The Courettes describes Back In Mono as a garage band-meets-girl groups-wall of sound album.

The Brazilian/Danish duo, formed by Flavia and her husband Martin, receives rave reviews because their songs are rock solid and authentic; the love for a powerful melody and catchy chorus is evident.

What was the moment you knew you were on to something?

F: The first time we went to a studio to play the four songs we’ve written to The Courettes.

How did this record come together?

F: The whole concept started when we wrote a Christmas song some years ago. It was the first time we wanted to make a Wall of Sound sounding recording. Then the whole “Back in Mono” concept came together; a garage band meets girl groups wall of sound album.

It took a lot of time to dig all the cool songwriters of that time, write the songs, rehearse, build our own studio, our own echo chamber, find the right producer (Søren Christensen from Denmark), the right person to mix it (Seiki Sato from Japan), studio sessions, Wall of Sound overdubs, and there it was. We’re so proud of the result; it´s our best album so far, a milestone better than the other two.

When did you decide to start asking for opinions on the new songs?

F: I guess we never asked for opinions on the new songs!

The meaning of success has changed over the years. What would success look like for the new record?

F: For us, “Back in Mono” is already a success, in the way it works really good as an album, a concept album mixing garage rock, girl groups, and wall of sound. But of course, it’s so good to receive so many great reviews in media all over the world. And if with this album our music can reach more people, that’s also a big success.

How great is the urge to stay creative? To keep writing songs and lyrics?

F: To keep writing songs and lyrics, of course, but also to observe the world, acknowledging your feelings and other people’s, and keeping sane and giving a meaning to this craziness we call life.

As an artist, you choose to show your emotions to the world. Is it always comfortable to do so?

F: No, definitely not comfortable. There’s a lot of vulnerability putting your heart into something so other people can have a good time, make a judgment, or take it for granted. Playing live, for example, there’s a lot of vulnerability doing that, again and again, each night. You’re singing a song about the death of someone you love, while some people are there sipping their beers, trying to score, or looking at their phones, for example.

You can pick three co-writers to write new songs with. Who? … and Why?

F: John Lennon, Bert Berns, and one of the songwriting trio Holland-Dozier-Holland.

For me, John Lennon is the greatest songwriter in rock history, with amazing and surprising musical choices and solutions, with a great text imagery and wordplay.

Bert Berns is a master of writing pop pearls and lyrically delivering complicated themes in a very “popish” approach.

And Holland-Dozier-Holland wrote most of the Motown 3 minutes pop masterpieces. So, a lot to learn with any of them!

What’s the gig you will never forget? And why?

F: The show we played the very day after I gave birth to our son Lennon. It was such a touching, magical, and freeing experience. What an adrenaline rush!

Lyrics are too often taken for granted. What is the line of text, or are the lines of text that you hope listeners will remember? And why?

F: “Back in Mono” has many lines I’m very happy about. “The end awaits behind the door, tell me what’s life worth living for”, “If I knew that time would run so fast, and happy ends, don’t ever really last”, are two good ones who make you wonder about choices in life.

When was the last time you thought, ‘I just wrote a hit!’?

F: A new song called “Rough Like That”. What a hit! Coming out in June.

Cassettes are back. Which 5 five songs would make your first mixtape?

F: “Good Vibrations”, “Strawberry Fields Forever”, “Be My Baby”, “River Deep, Mountain High” and “You Can’t Hurry Love”.

Playing music in front of a crowd. What’s all the fun about?

F: It’s absolutely one of the things I most appreciate doing in life. When it all goes well, and there’s this bond between band and audience, it is transcendental, then it all makes sense.

You can’t control the way people ‘hear’ your music. But if you could make them aware of certain aspects, you think, set your songs apart. What would they be?

F: Catchy melodies, Wall of Sound production, and killer guitar riffs.

Suppose you were to introduce your music to new listeners through three songs. Which songs would those be and why?

F: “Hop The Twig”, the new version of “The Boy I Love” and “Misfits & Freaks”. These are good examples of our sound and show our influences from girl groups, garage bands, surf music, power pop, and Motown.

If you could tour the world with two other bands, who would you ask, and why?

F: The Beatles and The Ronettes. No need to say why, isn’t it?

What compliment you once received will you never forget?

F: It’s always pleasant to hear we sound like a full band, although we’re only two on the stage. When people also realize we put a big focus on the songwriting and create an original musical blend, we really appreciate it.

Those magical moments when you’re working in the studio. Which moment was the most magical?

F: When you did all your preparation before entering the studio, but a great backing vocal, guitar solo, or new text line just kicks in through the door at the moment you’re recording—pure magic.

What place do you occupy in the music industry?

F: We are a band doing what we love, navigating through the business sharks, out of the mainstream charts but occupying more and more space and getting more and more people on board on our void.

If you could pick three singers to sing harmony vocals on your next record, who would you ask?

F: Brian Wilson, Paul McCartney, and Darlene Love.

The record is done, the music is out. Is the best fun done now, or is it just beginning?

F: I love working in the studio and playing live; both are fun. The record is done, the music is out, time to work on another album!

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