Put Catherine Pockson’s piercingly beautiful vocals together with Bob Matthews’ ethereal pop/dub production techniques and keyboard sounds and you get the trip-hop-night-pop duo, Alpines.
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Like an elfin queen whipping up a storm, Catherine’s perfectly straight long, long hair and Cocteau-esque voice has accumulated an abundance of admirers including Florence Welch and the photographer Rankin. Emerging from the depths of South London, this two-piece have released a hugely successful EP and it sounds like they, along with their fans are on tenterhooks for the imminent release of their debut album. They’re also renowned for their artistic disposition and Catherine’s image oriented blog shows all the colour palettes and photography samples she has in mind for the band’s packaging.
The two took some time out of their Alpine Narnia to let i-D dress them up and get in their heads.
How did Alpines come to be? When did you and Bob meet and when did you realise your styles worked well together?
CP: Bob and I met at a mutual friend’s wedding a couple of years ago when he was playing bass in his band at the time. I was one of the guests and thought he had great presence on stage. After the show we got chatting, mainly about music. I had a solo gig on piano the next day, he came along to that. Soon after we realised that we could work well together. Bob had also started to embrace production when we met. I soon realised that the songs I wrote on piano really suited his production style. He has such a great understanding of where I am coming from musically and knows how to bring out the best in my writing.
BM: And likewise Catherine’s songwriting gives me an amazing platform to be creative with. I also think it works because we are both very focused and have a similar work ethic.
The term ‘Night-Pop’ is very fitting to your music, did you come up with it?
CP: We did come up with it! As a joke more than anything. There were so many styles of music being thrown around and we thought why not just create our own! Little did we know that anyone would pick up on it.
BM: It was always a joke, but it does sum up our sound quite well. I think at first it was just because we thought our music sounded better at night. But we’ve changed since then, and it might not suit some of our newer material to be honest.
You’re very involved with the band’s imagery, is this your way of bringing art back into music? What image do you want to portray?
CP: Art is very important to me and has always gone hand in hand with making music. When I was at school I thought I was going to be an artist or designer, not a musician. Writing songs on piano was a personal thing, that was my escapism. However, as time went on I realised that my skills and interest in art and design would be a great platform for writing and promoting my music in the best way possible. So yes, I suppose I would love to bring an artistic flair into music. We both like the idea of creating a whole beautiful world around the band. In a way like Narnia! You listen to our music and step into this other magical place.
How do you want your audiences to feel when they listen to your music?
CP: I would like and hope for them to feel excitement, as though that they are experiencing something new. I would also love them to feel uplifted, as we put so much energy into playing live.
BM: I want them to step into the other world that Catherine mentioned before. Whether they’re listening at home, at a gig, in the car or wherever, I want it to be a moment of escapism.
Are there any artists, bands or DJ’s who have had a significant impact on your sound?
BM: I think Burial’s album Untrue had the biggest effect on me wanting to make electronic music with soul. His music is very cold and doesn’t contain many human elements, but the way he uses sounds is so emotive. You might not hear his influence much in our music but it was crucial. Also seeing The XX succeed without sacrificing any of their vision and creativity has been inspiring.
CP: For me, any artists that are pushing the boundaries of pop music are very influential. I am also really interested in the way hip-hop artists such at Drake and Kanye West give their production an exciting edge that combines an array of musical genres.
You have an EP out at the moment, will you be releasing an album any time soon?
BM: We’ve taken our time with it, but it’s basically finished now. The actual release date is in the hands of label release schedules, which is frustrating, but we’re just impatient to see our music out there.
How do you define your style?
CP: At the moment I am very influenced by seventies style with a classic twist. This is enhanced by my hair which makes me look like a hippy! But, I also love intricate lace collars and neat white shirts, influenced by Chanel, teamed with high waisted dark denim flares. I love wearing hats, of all different styles. I like the way a hat, like shoes, can take an outfit in a completely new direction.
Who are your style icons?
CP: Vivienne Westwood has been my icon for a long time and when I read her auto-biography I was hooked! She is like a rare bird, so individual and has a very strong mind. She knows what she likes. I like this in a person. Patti Smith is another icon of mine. I also think Emmy Lou Harris had great style, she often wore long dresses on stage. With her long dark hair, she looked like a goddess. Very striking.
Text: Felicity Kinsella
Photography: Greta Ilieva
Styling: Jack Borkett
Hair: Cyndia Harvey
Make-up: Laura Dominique