Interview: AVEC

avecIt seems there’s no rest for the wicked… wickedly talented that is. Following the success of her debut album What If We Never Forget earlier this year, Austrian singer/songwriter AVEC is already gearing up to release a new record this autumn. Heaven / Hell promises to expand on the ethereal folk soundscapes and therapeutic lyricism that made the debut so spellbinding, as well as secure her place as one of the best new acts to emerge in 2018. I caught her ahead of her first UK appearance at The Great Escape to ask about the new record. 

Thanks for your time! It was only just a couple of months ago that you released your debut album What If We Never Forget, and you’re already set to release the follow-up this September. What was it that made you so eager to share this new collection of songs with the world?
Well, a lot of things have happened since my last record was released – we were touring through Europe and played a lot of gigs, which was incredibly amazing! During this time I was constantly writing and me and Andy (musical director, e-guitar, keys, co-producer), we literally chained ourselves to his basement-studio, arranged and pre-produced a ton of songs and had all the demos ready in autumn last year – so I kinda felt the need to record them and put them out into the world. So that’s basically what we did, and I think what is most important about this whole process is that I can truly say that I put all my heart and soul in this record and it is me, being honest, being true to myself. I am so grateful and thrilled that I can be an artist, can be a musician and that I’ve been given this opportunity to get my music out into this great unknown, with all my heartaches and thoughts, all my struggles and sorrows. Perhaps there are a few people out there who feel just the same way, who may recognise themselves in one of my songs, in one of my lyrics, and realise that they are not alone with their emotions and feelings!

Ahead of the album you’ve just released your new single ‘Love’. What was your inspiration when writing the song and what made you choose it as a single?
‘Love’ is actually the oldest track on this record, I wrote it in April 2016 and to me it seemed sort of obvious and it just felt right to choose it as a single, and in particular as the first single.
The song is mainly about this feeling of affinity – I tried to capture those sparks of electricity in the air; of attraction, excitement and tension, and this unconditional feeling of love. Even though to me love is such a weird thing, it means being powerless, having no control over your body and your soul, actually, having no control over yourself at all. You’re just a slave of your own mind, you’re completely chained to the feeling of love. It’s like a virus creeping through your veins, it can make you feel like heaven and as soon as you feel safe, you turn around and you’re stuck in hell! It can be self-destructive and at some point it might break you, but in the end, love is a very innocent thing and means nothing less than acceptance, trust and forgiveness.

Musically ‘Love’ certainly sounds like your most upbeat and positive offering thus far, is that reflective of the new album as a whole or can we expect a few darker moments too?
It seems to me that this record is probably more positive in a certain way but there are also those darker and emotionally deep moments too, of course . But indeed, the new record will contain more upbeat songs and definitely more positive vibes than my first album.

The video features some gorgeous shots of Ireland where you spent some time working on Heaven / Hell. What was it that drew you there in particular for the new record?
Well, for me it was really important to have the second album recorded somewhere in the middle of nowhere – not in a city, not in a town – literally, away from the world! I don’t feel very comfortable in big cities – there are always too many people and way too many things going on, so I’ve always been bound to the country-side, to forests and fields (that sounds really cheesy right now haha). We got pretty damn lucky and reached out to Tommy McLaughlin who has this surreal studio in the back of beyond in Ireland, where me and the whole band recorded the album and it was one of the best times I’ve ever had in my life, honestly. The recording process of this album was unbelievably amazing. Tommy is one of the most special and wonderful human-beings I’ve ever met and working with him was such a great pleasure and honour! But despite of the recording, being in Ireland was unreal, I totally fell in love with the country and with its landscape. It’s just too brilliant for words, I got totally lost in it!

After the release of the new album you’re off on a big European tour this autumn. Is there anywhere that you’re particularly looking forward to playing?
Oh, I am super excited and more than happy to be back on tour in autumn. To be honest, I am looking forward to every single location, cause it feels like ages to me since we toured around in Europe, so I am really looking forward to come back to locations we’ve already played in as well as getting to know new cities, new people and even new countries. We’ve never played in the UK, so I am delighted to play at the Great Escape this year!

Two albums and a major tour in one year is mightily impressive. Are you going to try to keep up that kind of momentum for as long as possible or is there a much-needed break waiting at the end of it all?
Oh god no! If you’d ask me I might be constantly touring and recording, without any breaks, I just love it! I love writing songs, making records, being creative while working in the studio and I love being on tour as well.I t’s so much fun with the band and all the impressions you get, all the cities and countries you’re going to visit – it’s just amazing and still so surreal .

Given as the album is called Heaven / Hell, what would your own personal Heaven and Hell be like?
When I talk about HEAVEN / HELL it’s this condition, this state in between those two words basically. l am constantly trying to balance my mind and my life between those two scales, on the one hand ‘heaven’ and on the other one ‘hell’, which sometimes works quite alright, but every now and then it’s really hard and it’s not working the way I want it to at all. But that’s fine. Especially as an artist, musician or writer you’re put under a lot of pressure, and I keep adding a lot more pressure to myself, so it feels like a rollercoaster ride through heaven and hell everyday. There are a lot of people who struggle with this, I am definitely one of them.

Finally, you’ll be performing at The Great Escape Festival very soon, which is noted for celebrating new artists. Is there anyone on the line-up that you think people should go and check out? …besides yourself, obviously, that’s a given!
Haha thanks a million. Yes, I am so looking forward to this amazing festival and it’s a huge pleasure to be part of such an incredible line-up. I don’t even know where to start… well you should definitely go and see Brooke Bentham, David Keenan, Dermot Kennedy, Joshua Burnside, Ten Fé, Lilla Vargen, George Taylor, Jordan Mckampa, Phoebe Bridgers, Riley Pearce and so many more – I hope I’ll have enough time to check them all out!

Massive thanks to AVEC! Her new album Heaven / Hell is out 14th September.