Rebranding a band can be a difficult venture, but for Ravines (formally known as Ophelia), it was done out of necessity. Despite the forced change, it’s led to an overhaul in not only their name, but also an evolution in their sound.
Their new single ‘Breathe’ utilises new soundscapes like never before - they say about it: “It’s not so much a departure from the old stuff as a continuation of our evolving sound. This record is definitely the most varied yet, with a really wide soundscape. It’s got a lot of dense electronic textures, but also some really rich orchestral scoring. There is some soul flavours, mixed in with some trap and dub sounds and then some string and French Horns.”
We spoke to Ravines (made up of Alex Louise and Patrick Shanahan) about their new music, and what else is to come in 2016…
COUP DE MAIN: You recently changed your name to Ravines. How did you come up with the new name, and what does it represent for you?
RAVINES: To be perfectly honest, the main reason we changed our name was because we got hit with a lawsuit in the U.S. Apparently someone had trademarked it there and wouldn't allow is to keep using it. Fun times all round! We definitely felt sorry for ourselves for a while, but we love the new name and it’s way more fitting for a duo – a lot of people thought Ophelia was Alex’s solo project purely because of our branding. We were talking about what happens to music after you release it when we chose Ravines. It's kind of like a little river system when you send a song out into the world, you never know where it might end up. It might stay in your home town or get washed away to other places. We've had our music used for videos in Germany and Russia and we were like, ‘How did it get there?' Music really has a life of its own now and I think we wanted to say something about that. Plus it's nice to say!
CDM: Congratulations on the release of ‘Breathe’ - it’s a really rad song. Why was it the first song that you wanted to release as Ravines?
RAVINES: Thanks! We’re actually close to finishing a whole EP and have had to be pretty selective choosing those five tracks – so it was definitely tricky to choose one to launch with first. We thought ‘Breathe’ is a pretty good snapshot of what this EP will be about. It’s got the softer orchestral tones that we love to use mixed in with some pretty quirky off-beat melodies. The EP definitely has the widest range of sounds we’ve ever put together– from acoustic ballads to electronic funk. We have been working with a really great producer Michael Szumowski at Albert's Studios in Sydney on 'Breathe' and really liked the way it came together.
CDM: How does your songwriting and collaborative process with one another work?
RAVINES: We work one of two ways. Either Pat will send Alex a tune without vocals, Alex will build up the melodies/harmonies etc then Pat will change it up/develop it from there. Or Alex will send Pat a song she’s written on guitar or piano and built harmonies around and Pat will build the beats/rest of the production from there. It’s usually pretty easy to spot which way round we’ve done it – Alex’s songs tend to have very story-based lyrics whereas Pat loves driving the track with a heavy focus on the beats/rhythm.
CDM: What else does 2016 have in store for Ravines?
RAVINES: It should be a big year for us – once we’ve released 'Breathe', we’ll finish off the EP then put that out there. We’d love to do a tour off the back of the EP and hit up some of the Summer music festivals towards the end of the year. A big focus for us initially will be getting the message out about the name change – we’re not a totally different band so we’d still like to make sure people make a connection back to Ophelia.
CDM: Our column is all about NZ music - so what other New Zealand artists are you loving at the moment?
RAVINES: Our next couple of shows are with a new artist called Miloux. We’re loving the really jazzy scales and harmonies she uses – really different and definitely one to watch. Thomston is worth keeping an eye on too, I think he is going to have a massive year. We played with him a few years ago and he is an astonishing musician, and a really nice guy.
CDM: If you were to curate your own music festival, who would you want to play and what would the festival be called?
RAVINES: Haha great question! It would be called 'Free' and it would be totally free. It'd be in a forest somewhere and we'd have bands like Purity Ring, Yumi Zouma, and big acts like Radiohead playing on tiny stages. There would be lots of Mexican food and free massages It would be awesome!
CDM: What's the most despicable thing you've ever done?
RAVINES: We'll never tell!! :D ….but it may involve a failed bank heist, maps to an ancient world and an ice-cream truck. Maybe.
CDM: If you could pick any five people (living or dead) to be in your entourage, who would you choose?
RAVINES: Ooooh. Morgan Freeman, Jimi Hendrix, David Attenborough, Frank Sinatra and Nina Simone. You could get a lot done with that gang!
CDM: Who is your most famous fan?
RAVINES: Sabrina the Teenage Witch follows us on Twitter, does that count?
CDM: Do you believe in magic?
RAVINES: Absolutely! Have you read ‘Harry Potter’? That stuff is for real!
CDM: What is your spirit animal?
PAT: I think I'm an owl. I've got good hearing and I’m definitely a night creature. Plus I fly and I eat mice.
ALEX: A panda for sure, not only are they just my all time favourite thing in the world, but they're clumsy, eat all day, fall out of trees and give themselves a fright sneezing... according to YouTube anyway. Definitely a kindred spirit.
CDM: How long could you go without talking?
RAVINES: Weeks, maybe months! At least a minute. At least.
CDM: If you could steal one thing without consequence what would it be?
RAVINES: Probably a plane. I mean, you can do a lot more things with a plane. I'd probably need to steal a runway too!
CDM: What is the most heroic thing that you've ever done?
PAT: I saved my mate from getting beaten up by like seven guys in Sydney. He's still got a weird broken finger as a momento!
ALEX: I save my boyfriend from eating the last slice of pizza and bit of chocolate all the time - it's the little things that count, you know.
CDM: Have you ever written a love letter?
PAT: Sadly yes, I wrote my first one in primary school. She ignored me after that. Girls, eh?
ALEX: I write love letters to my overseas friends all the time, haven't got any back yet but I like to think they're not just creeped out and avoiding me.
CDM: What is your first proper memory, ever?
PAT: Going down the park steps in my pram. Can't remember anything for about five years after that, but I loved those steps!
ALEX: The trauma of getting lost in supermarket aisles and thinking after 30 seconds that I'd never see my parents or civilisation again.
CDM: If you were a country, what would be your national anthem?
RAVINES: Maybe some Slayer? We like the idea of them wheeling out someone to perform that at sporting events...
CDM: Have you ever had an out-of-body experience? If so, tell us about it.
ALEX: A few years back I did the Oxfam 100km walk... which thinking back was an insane idea. I remember just being on absolute autopilot for the last 10km or so and feeling like I just wasn't participating in my body's movements. It was almost like I was just getting a piggy back and someone was walking for me. I'm not a spiritual person but that was probably the closest feeling – driven from pure exhaustion. That's actually what the song ‘Carry Me Home’ on our first EP was about.
CDM: Stretch your right arm out as far as you can reach, what can you touch?
PAT: A packet of dried apricots. True story. I don’t even like them.
ALEX: All generic desk-related items. I'm at work – boring.
+ for more new music suggestions, check out AllTracks >> alltracks.co.nz
Listen to ‘Breathe’ below…