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'Kill for Love': An Interview With Ruth Radelet of Chromatics

Posted: 10/26/2012 3:10 pm

On the heels of performing at the Chanel spring/summer 2013 fashion show in Paris and the Fashion Moments 2012 party in Shanghai, and with yet another tour in Europe, the Pitchfork Music Festival in Paris, the Harvest Festival in Australia, Art Basel in Miami and a few other upcoming dates in South America, indie-electronic darlings (and Portland, Oregon hometown heroes) Chromatics are smack dab in the midst of an international meteoric rise.

With their latest release, Kill for Love, Chromatics frontwoman, Ruth Radelet, has once again hypnotized fans, critics and even Karl Lagerfeld with her voice, stage presence and stunning beauty. I had a chance to catch up with my dear, talented friend Ruth this past week. Our conversation is below.

Watch Chromatics "Kill for Love" Video:


Ruth, thanks for chatting with me today. For some of our readers who are just hearing your band Chromatics now, how would you describe your sound?
This is always a tough question for me, since our songs range from almost fully electronic numbers to guitar-oriented post punk and 10-minute long cinematic experimentations. If I had to sum it up in a phrase I might say something like "melancholy electronic pop."

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It's been an eventful last couple of years for you guys. Was there a specific moment where you realized something really big was happening?
We all really believed in Kill for Love, but, of course, you never know for sure how the public will receive something. We had some great feedback from the press but none of that seems real until you step out in front of an audience. I think for me the show that changed everything was Primavera Sound in Barcelona. It was on a greater scale than anything we had done before, and it felt like a real make-it-or-break-it moment. The crowd was very welcoming, and it turned out to be a really good show.

Watch Chromatics "Looking For Love" video, filmed at the Chanel show in Paris:


How was the experience of playing the 2013 spring/summer Chanel show at Paris Fashion Week? Rumor on the street is that Karl Lagerfeld requested you. How much freaking out with excitement did this cause you?
There was definitely some freaking out on my part, mostly out of sheer nerves. I didn't feel I could celebrate until it was over. We all really admire the Chanel aesthetic, and it was very flattering to be asked to be a part of the show. The collection was amazing, the venue was beautiful and it was an honor to meet Karl Lagerfeld. We are really grateful to everyone at Chanel for giving us such an incredible opportunity.

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You are responsible for one of my favorite covers of all time. Do you have a special connection to Kate Bush or "Running Up That Hill"? You so expertly made it your own.
It was Johnny's idea to do the song. I was afraid to cover it at first, since the original already seemed perfect and Kate Bush is such an impressive vocalist, but I am glad we took a chance on it. It's still one of my favorite songs to sing, and even after all these years of touring I never get tired of it. There's so much feeling in the song, and a sense of yearning in it that really moves me.

Watch Chromatics "Running Up That Hill" video:


You have a long history with Chromatics/Glass Candy brainchild Johnny Jewel. How has your working relationship changed over the years?
As many people already know, Johnny and I were in a relationship for several years, but above all I consider us to be old friends, and we have continued to build on that foundation even though the dynamic is always evolving.

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What's life-like on the road with a bunch of dudes? Is traveling the world what you thought it would be like?
I always had dreams of traveling the world, but I honestly can't remember what I used to think it would be like before I did it. I think being on tour is much more of a struggle and a lot less of a party than most people imagine. It's very rewarding, though, being able to see so many different parts of the world and to connect with so many different people. It's great to be able to bring something to the table, instead of just being a tourist. Adam, Johnny and Natty aren't exactly your typical guys, so touring with them isn't what you might think! On the road we try to find as much time as we can to write and work on art. Since we live in three different cities, it's one of the only times we get a chance to be together.

Watch Chromatics "In The City" video:


Who are some of your inspirations for songwriting? Are there any performers you feel particularly moved by?
My favorite songs are always the sad ones, and I find that I am most inspired to write when I am in a melancholy state of mind. Most of my favorite songwriters are folk and country artists like Bob Dylan, Kris Kristofferson and Tom Waits. That being said, I find inspiration in a lot of different genres, depending on my mood and what I am working on. Some of my Chromatics inspirations are more obvious, like The Jesus and Mary Chain, New Order and The Velvet Underground.

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What songs are on your iPod right now? Is there anyone you are dying to work with?
I've had Frank Ocean's Channel Orange on repeat since it came out. I'm also listening to The Weeknd, Todd Terje and Poolside's Pacific Standard Time. We mostly keep to ourselves in the studio, but I love Kanye West -- he's one of my favorite producers out there. It was great to see him in the front row at the Chanel show.

Watch Chromatics "Into The Black" video:


What's being famous like for you? Do people treat you differently than they used to?
I don't consider myself to be famous at all. My old friends don't treat me any differently than they ever have, but sometimes when I meet new people I think they might have a hard time seeing me as a person separate from the band.

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What's next for you and Chromatics?
We will be focused mainly on touring for the rest of the year, and will be spending a lot of time in the studio this winter, working on the next album, as well as some soundtrack work. There will be a "Looking For Love" 12" coming out that has the full 17-minute version on one side, and the instrumental on the other. We also have three tracks on the upcoming "After Dark 2" compilation, including an Iggy Pop and James Williamson cover. Around Christmas we will be releasing a mail-order only LP called "Running From The Sun," which has a few alternate mixes from the Kill for Love album along with 5 or 6 unreleased tracks. In 2013 we will be hitting the road again with Glass Candy, which we are really looking forward to.

Watch Chromatics "Lady" video:


Thanks again for chatting with me, Ruth. Anything you'd like to leave us with today?
I would just like to thank everyone who has come out to our shows, spun our records, and turned their friends onto our music, they have really helped make this an incredible year.

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Be sure and pick up Chromatics Kill for Love today and stay tuned for three Chromatics tracks on the upcoming Italians Do It Better: After Dark 2 compilation, including an Iggy Pop cover and a mail-order only LP called "Running From The Sun," which has a few alternate mixes from the Kill for Love album along with 5 or 6 unreleased tracks all before the new year!

For more on Chromatics, visit http://vivaitalians.blogspot.com
Follow Chromatics on Facebook: www.Facebook.com/CHROMATICSBAND

Photo Credits: Photographer, Richard Bernardin; Stylist, Olivia Leblanc; Hair and Makeup, Leroy Williams; Production, Madame Brown; Photo Assistant, Julien Barbes.

For more on Logan Lynn, visit www.LoganLynnMusic.com

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