Gimme Your Answers: An Interview w/ Daughter

DaughterLondon-trio Daughter (Elena Tonra, Igor Haefeli, and Remi Aguilella) are known for their eerily beautiful vocals, delicately created atmospheres, and courageous full-bodied build ups. We love the band’s sound, and after reviewing their music multiple times on the site, it was a pretty amazing experience to ask the group some questions. Before playing The Phoenix in Toronto to hundreds of Daughter fans, I sat down with the trio to talk about playing in unique venues, their everlasting love for video games and film, old photos used for album artwork, and more. Dive into our chat below!

AMBY: You’re currently on tour in North America. What have been some of the highlights so far?

Igor Haefeli: I don’t know, we’ve definitely been to a lot of new places. We went to Texas, Atlanta for the first time, we’ve been hanging out with Bear’s Den who are good friends of ours. We saw War Paint for the first time as well which was great.

Elena Tonra: It’s been pretty good.

Igor Haefeli: Yea, it’s been a really enjoyable tour.

AMBY: I’m glad to hear it’s going so well for you guys.

Igor Haefeli: Thanks.

AMBY: Before playing North America, you were in Europe. So I was wondering how would you compare the European audiences to the North American ones?

Igor Haefeli: I think the North American ones are a little more up for things; they’re quite rowdy and they love to heckle and stuff. I think we appreciate that just because we’re a bit awkward and sometimes don’t know what to say, and it gives us something to go with. It often just feels like the crowds are warm and more welcoming maybe.

Elena Tonra: It’s really hard to say to be honest because it can vary from country to country, city to city.

Remi Aguilella: Exactly.

Elena Tonra: It depends where you are in Europe, and where you are here. It also depends on the venue; there are a lot of venues we’ve played in Europe like churches and things like that. I think people will behave sometimes differently depending on what space you are performing in. I do feel like the shows we’ve done here, we’ve had a very welcome audience and ones who aren’t shy to express their feelings towards you.

Igor Haefeli: Some of our best shows have been Canadian audiences and they’ve been very welcome to us. Vancouver was insane.

Remi Aguilella: Montreal, as well.

Igor Haefeli: It was definitely some of the craziest crowds we’ve had so far.

AMBY: Awesome to hear we’re treating you so well, thus far!

Elena Tonra: [laughs] You are.

AMBY: We’re also excited to have you here in Toronto tonight. I actually wanted to bring something up— there you mentioned churches, but what’s one of the craziest venues you’ve played in so far?

Elena Tonra: We’ve done a couple of pretty amazing shows, but we played one at the Eden Project in England.

Igor Haefeli: It’s kind of like a big botanical garden.

Elena Tonra: With enclosed domes with different climates in them so you have different plant life in each one. So, we played in an outside stage which was at the Eden Project which was very nice. It was really cool. We also played at this huge satellite dish [laughs].

Igor Haefeli: It’s basically, how to explain it? It’s there to kind of… Find, no. Catch?

AMBY: Attract things?

Igor Haefeli: Well, attract things that are at incredible distances. And apparently it’s even able to catch the glow of the after bang. [laughs], the Big Bang!

AMBY: [laughs]

Igor Haefeli: The glow of the Big Bang. It was pretty amazing.

Remi Aguilella: Also, other venues. We supported The National in the US recently, and we ended up playing the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

AMBY: Oh, okay.

Remi Aguilella: It was the first time we had ever played in a cemetery.

AMBY: That’s quite unique.

Remi Aguilella: Yes, it was pretty cool.

Igor Haefeli: The Anglican cathedral was also amazing. I think it’s one of the third biggest in the world, or something like that. And the ceilings are immense! I think we really enjoy playing churches because we really like the acoustics go well with our sound.

AMBY: I have one last touring question for you, what do you do for fun while on tour? Aside from music, of course.

Elena Tonra: We’re pretty competitive at video games.

AMBY: Really!

Remi Aguilella: PlayStation.

AMBY: Which ones?

Igor Haefeli: We go and grab second-hand games. The cheap ones! So we have NHL 2010 [laughs]. What else? Resident Evil 5.

Elena Tonra: That’s good. We also got a bit obsessed with Halo.

Igor Haefeli: It’s just on tour since in the bus it’s cool to— Tony Hawk, too! The multi-player games are quite fun.

Remi Aguilella: Movie nights as well, on the previous tour. That was fun.

Igor Haefeli: Just generally going out for a beer somewhere… It’s fun to walk around and find somewhere to grab a drink, it’s all part of the experience to have a bit of a feel of the cities.

Elena Tonra: It’s nice to collect things from different places. I love collecting magnets.

AMBY: Is there anything special you’ve collected that stands out to you?

Elena Tonra: Well, I suppose it’s not really special even though I haven’t worn it yet. I got this amazing jumpsuit—a sixties jumpsuit in Austin.

AMBY: That’s neat!

Elena Tonra: Yea, I don’t know why they were selling it there since it’s the hottest place in the world. I mean, you’re never going to wear it there [laughs].

Igor Haefeli: That’s probably why it was in a second-hand store.

AMBY: [laughs]

Elena Tonra: But I like collecting things from certain places, from jewelry to whatever.

Remi Aguilella: I collect postcards by accident. I keep on trying to send ones to my parents and stuff like that, but every time I forget to do it. So, I end up having loads of postcards in my bag that were meant to be sent, but I always forgot to do it.

AMBY: Just bundle them all together at one point and say “I swear I didn’t forget!”

Remi Aguilella: My grandmother said “I don’t really care if you send them from London, that’s fine.” So, I said okay. I’ll just be, “Hey! I’m in LA right now”, not really [laughs].

AMBY: Your debut record If You Leave was released back in March of this year, so what are your thoughts or feelings on the record flashing forward a few months?

Igor Haefeli: I think when we finished the record, we felt like it’s been a long year. We worked on it quite a lot and we finished it at the end of last year. I remember we were happy, but it had been such an intense process. I don’t think we have listened to it in quite a long time, because when I listened to it again I thought, “oh wow, this is amazing!” I think for us it’s quite hard to sort of listen to our own music and have a good step-back.

Elena Tonra: I don’t think you ever can. But I enjoyed having a little break from it since it was quite the intense album to make. Given the whole way we made it, I think it sounds a lot better than I remember it sounding. I’m actually pleasantly surprised! [laughs]

AMBY: [laughs] It’s a great record, for sure.

Elena Tonra: Thank you so much.

His Young HeartAMBY: My pleasure. The other thing I wanted to bring up speaking of your work are the EP covers.  I’ve read that you’ve been questioned about them quite a bit, and how they are old photos of you as a child.

Elena Tonra: Yes.

AMBY: But what I didn’t come across was what was the real inspiration behind actually using them?

Elena Tonra: Well, to be fair, we kind of were thinking about what to do for the album. We were first thinking of the title which was a lyric of a song, and I was digging through an old box of photos where I found that picture. I can remember vividly where I was and who took it— it was a stairway at my granny and granddad’s house. It was my dad who took it, and my uncle is actually sitting the in background of the photo. I thought His Young Heart kind of made sense with that.

Igor Haefeli: It does.

Elena Tonra: The Wild Youth one with us painted as wild animals was pretty great. I was much younger in that photo [His Young Heart], probably seven or eight, while in Youth I was three or four… three. I can’t really remember that but apparently my grandmother took it. And I guess me and my brother just went completely mental! [laughs] So, they were kind of just things I found which I thought could work really well. And for the album, we worked with a photographer for the album. And we saw the final and thought—

AMBY: That’s the one!

Elena Tonra: Yea, so we always try to match things up and make it work with the title as a whole.

AMBY: Thank you for sharing that. I wanted to bring up one other thing regarding Youth; the single was used in television shows like Mistresses and Grey’s Anatomy, and we know you’re fans of film, so if you could have your music featured in any TV show or movie, which would you choose?

Elena Tonra: Ohhh, that’s a good question.

AMBY: Thank you.

Elena Tonra: You are very welcome.

Igor Haefeli: I would really like, I don’t know.

Elena Tonra: I don’t either, to be fair. I think it depends on the film.

Remi Aguilella: Slightly different, I think it would be interesting to collaborate with a composer. I recently learned Johnny Marr played guitar on Inception, or the soundtrack.

AMBY: Really? I never knew that.

Remi Aguilella: And it was a soundtrack by Hans Zimmer, and I’m a massive Hans Zimmer fan. I think it would be incredible to get the chance to see how those composers work, and eventually kind of bring more elements to those soundtracks. But, it doesn’t really answer your question in terms of our songs [laughs].

Elena Tonra: It would be quite cool. Even when films have new material, like The Great Gatsby. They did it in the style of the era, but the music was different.

AMBY: There was a lot of rap used within that film.

Elena Tonra: Yea, there was.

Remi Aguilella: Yea.

Elena Tonra: It was cool, I really enjoyed it. So I don’t really know, anything and everything [laughs].

AMBY: Perfect! So while on the topic of TV shows, I mean, everyone is pretty much talking about the Breaking Bad finale tonight. I’m curious, which shows have you been watching while on the road?

Igor Haefeli: I’ve been meaning to catch up on Breaking Bad.

AMBY: Ohh, okay.

Igor Haefeli: I’ve seen a few episodes.

AMBY: No spoilers.

Igor Haefeli: Exactly. I’ve been really lucky because, no wait, I haven’t been [laughs]. I turned on the TV the other day when we arrived at a hotel, and I ended up watching the show after Breaking Bad.

AMBY: Talking Bad.

Igor Haefeli: And they were talking about what had happened in the episode I haven’t seen yet, and I caught literally something really, really important about the episode. So I was like, noooooo.

Elena Tonra: We need to also catch up on Dexter because it’s finished, but we don’t know what’s happened.

AMBY: I just watched the finale last night!

Igor Haefeli: Don’t tell me.

AMBY: I won’t spoil it, don’t you worry.

Igor Haefeli: [laughs] And Walking Dead is starting again…

Remi Aguilella: In 2014, I think.

Igor Haefeli: Really? I think it’s…

Remi Aguilella: I feel like the last time I checked it was going to be that.

Igor Haefeli: I thought it was October.

Remi Aguilella: 2014…

AMBY: [laughs]

Igor Haefeli: I’m not sure, I think it’s October.

Remi Aguilella: Hopefully!

Elena Tonra: There’s also Homeland.

AMBY: Yes, I watch that as well.

Igor Haefeli: Wasn’t he escaping to Canada? [laughs]

Elena Tonra: He’s here somewhere [looks around].

AMBY: The other thing I read was that you’re fans of The Killing?

Elena Tonra: The original, the Danish version.

AMBY: Ah, I’ve been watching the American one.

Igor Haefeli: There’s loads of good actors in it.

AMBY: It’s been great. But I just finished the third season and they left it on a really good cliff-hanger, and then they decided to cancel it!

Igor Haefeli: The Danish one is pretty good.

AMBY: I’ll definitely try and check it out. I have one last question about the music, actually. I know you did a cover of Daft Punk’s Get Lucky back in April. Are there any other covers we can expect?

Igor Haefeli: There’s nothing planned.

Elena Tonra: No, but—

Igor Haefeli: I think we enjoy doing covers.

Elena Tonra: We might do another, it’s always fun so we’ll see.

AMBY: Alright, great. And now we’re at the last question of the interview. It’s a bit of a stumper, but you can say whatever you like.

Remi Aguilella: Pineapple.

AMBY: [laughs] What’s the best part of being in Daughter?

Elena Tonra: Oooh…

Igor Haefeli: There’s so many good things. I think it’s definitely to be able to be part of something musically that allows me to then live from that, and travel from that, and to feel like people are relating.

Elena Tonra: I think that writing for me is like therapy. I really enjoying touring, but I think I could quite easily lock myself up in dark rooms and just write, and for me, that’s something that really helps me stay mentally [laughs] stable. The touring part is great, because it’s nice to be out talking to other people and seeing that people are coming to the shows. And people knowing the words and singing to our songs, that’s possibly the greatest feeling on earth. It’s a very internal sort of thing.

AMBY: Great, and how about yourself [Remi]. Aside from “pineapple”.

Remi Aguilella: I think a great thing is that we’ve kind of evolved from touring and training, and renting a small car, and doing a UK tour, and it’s kind of all gotten slightly bigger and bigger, but not crazy. It all evolved as a natural wave; the team has got bigger, we have help loading and doing our sound, and  thinking back to years ago, it’s fun to see the progression.


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Alicia Atout | @AliciaAtout

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