It’s been four years Rococode released their debut album, Guns, Sex & Glory. But the Vancouver electro-pop duo comprised of Andrew Braun and Laura Smith have finally made their return with Don’t Worry It Will Be Dark Soon and a rejuvenated sense of their band’s identity.
After spending a year and a half touring Canada and the U.S. in support of their first effort, Braun and Smith began working on their anticipated follow-up, retreating to a little cabin hidden away in the Powell River bush to embark on the recording process. With two cars packed up with gear and with producers Caleb Shrev (Phantogram) and Ted Gowans (Tegan and Sara) in tow, the pair headed off the grid and set up shop for two weeks.
Though malfunctioning solar panels would force the group to record by gasoline generator, the experience proved to be just what they needed. “It was nice to be completely immersed,” Braun says, adding that they were completely cut off from cell phones and Wi-Fi, save for occasional spotty reception from the neighbours.
“It was a lot cheaper to build our own, but in the end I think it really had a major impact on the result, just ’cause we were really isolated and we had the gear that we had there and that really steered us in a certain direction and sort of led to a lot of the spaciousness and the sounds that we ended up deciding on.”
Once they had the bulk of the songs written and recorded, Braun and Smith spent the next couple of years adding bits and pieces to their growing tracklist. Braun admits that perfectionism definitely seeped its way into the process — as it often does with many artists — especially since the digital era of recording makes it so easy to go back and tweak. There’s an art in letting go, he says. “For me, it’s always a huge sense of relief when you have a hard copy and it’s mastered and ‘alright, that’s done.’ Even if I wanted to, no more changes.”
Being so meticulous with Don’t Worry It Will Be Dark Soon, perhaps, came partly because this time Braun and Smith had a more thorough understanding of what they were after. “We knew who our band was and I think — I hope — it’s more obvious,” Braun says. “I think our first album was a little all over the place and maybe in a charming way, but I think this seems a lot of more focused. It’s also just a lot more electronic, again because how our tastes have shifted.”
Listeners got a first glimpse of the new music on Panic Attack, an EP released late last year before Don’t Worry It Will Be Dark Soon dropped in February. Rhythmic grooves and lush vocals layer over a heavy-set foundation of drums and bass, sonically depicting a contrast between light and dark. And though, characteristically, the tracks are not reflective of the natural surroundings they were recorded in, there’s an earthiness in the soundscapes that is undeniable. “I kind of say that you can hear the cabin a bit in there,” Braun says. “In the cracks.”
For Rococode, the last four years have been largely about the band’s coming of age (something that is reflected lyrically on Don’t Worry It Will Be Dark Soon, as well) and the journey of experimentation can allow an artist to get closer to who they want to be and what they want to represent to the world. It’s an important process that mustn’t be rushed — although, Braun laughs, “Hopefully it doesn’t take so long getting it out that you’re onto the next thing!”
When: April 8, 2016
Where: Fox Cabaret – 2321 Main Street
Tickets: $12 available online