Stricken City

Miss Fliss 13/12/2009

Back in October girl led indie pop four piece Stricken City released their long awaited debut mini-album 'Songs About People I Know' on Puregroove Records. GIITTV's deputy editor Fliss Collier caught up with the band's Rebekah Raa (vocals/keys) to find out more about their formation and inspirations.

How was your launch party for the album?

It was great, we had Gold Panda DJing before us and ACTH after and it was really packed. Probably our favourite London show we've done, we played pretty much the whole album in full which we hadn't done before so it was nice to play some different songs.

What's the story behind your name?

Coming up with band names is hard. We were thinking of stuff for ages and then found an art deco postcard for some sheet music called 'The Stricken City' which we thought sounded like a band name. We're lazy and we stole it, although we dropped the 'The' which at the time seemed like a big deal!

When you first formed, what were your dreams, hopes and expectations of being in a band, and have they come true?

We all wanted to have houses with swimming pools and fast cars. Turns out being in a band is a let down, you get none of these things. I want out.

People have picked up on a C86 indie pop sound to your music - how do you feel about being labelled in this way?

It's pretty bogus. I got that CD86 compilation that came out a few years ago and there's some nice stuff on there but not much that's really that memorable. It didn't feel like I was discovering a load of lost classics or anything. We like some of the Postcard records but we're not really into any
of that 'twee' stuff, I think there are other bands around now who sound more C86 than us and we don't sound like them. If people think we sound that way it's unintentional, we'll try harder on our next record to sound a bit more 90s or something…

You released your debut album as a CD/DVD package - are you conscious of the need to make physical music products extra special in the era of the download, or was this just a fun thing you wanted to do either way?

It's so much easier and cheaper to release just digitally now that we really wanted to make the effort with everything we put out, we want each release to be the sort of thing we'd buy if we were fans. We'd rather connect with fans by putting stuff into physical releases than just putting out mp3s and blogging lots.

Are the songs on the album literally autobiographical, considering it is called Songs about People I Know? Has anyone seen themselves in these songs and are you wary of real life acquaintances' reactions?

They are all about real people but so far we've had no one fall out with us. The girl in P.S. should stay clear though.

Where does inspiration for songs usually strike?

Around 4am, we both have pretty nocturnal lives because of our jobs, there's no distractions then so we start to write.

Your non-musical influences are intriguing - in particular, 'The Paranoids in The Crying of Lot 49' - care to explain? And, have you read/are you a fan of the new Pynchon novel?

I spent a long time imagining this band and what we wanted to do and sound like before we became a band, so it made sense to by influenced by a fictional band, I've never heard their music but in my head I think they're great. I've not read the new Pynchon novel yet but I started Gravity's Rainbow the
other week. I'm 12 pages in, I can't read good.

Are you happy to be making music in this era, or do you crave different times/culture?

No, we're happy now, there's a nice lot of things that have gone before that we're happy to be influenced by, we have to try and be a band in our own era that people will look back on and be inspired by. The grass is always greener…

Tell us some random facts about the band personally so that we can get to know you better?

Mike once had dinner on the Captain's table of an active American nuclear submarine. The rest of us have nothing as interesting.

And as an added extra here's Rebekah Raa on Songs About People I Know...

GIFTED - This song was recorded as an acappella on a bus. It's about someone who brings out the worst qualities in people, and about having a bit of a moral dilemma. These kind of problems are often best resolved on the number 21.

PULL THE HOUSE DOWN - The music came together really quickly for this song but the words were really difficult to get out. It's an outstretched hand; an offer of help and understanding to someone who didn't realise their own potential and just kept messing things up.

SMALL THINGS - About productivity and motivation; trying to get to the end of the tunnel; my own frustration at my inability to get up in the morning; and a girl who wraps herself up in her work so much she can't see anything going on around her. She works so hard she looks ill, but I think this is the happiest she's ever been. I'm probably just jealous.

KILLING TIME - Spending some quality time inside your imagination is no crime, but is probably better spent with a best friend or the love of your life.

PS - Sometimes things are better left unsaid, and sometimes things are better said really loud on your first E.P. A little "Oh and by the're not as good as you think you are, and I don't like you either"…

SOMETIMES I LOVE YOU - When I wrote the words to this I'd just watched "Pierrot le Fou". It's about running away with someone, companionship and silliness, and forgetting about everyone else in the world.

5 METRES APART - This song has been through four bassists, three drummers and a few different keyboard parts, but it has always been about the same thing; when you overlook the funny little things you like about someone and start taking it more seriously.

TERRIBLE THINGS - A look back to childhood memories of getting banned from things like matches and scissors… for someone who couldn't grow out of being naughty.

Stricken City - Pull The House Down Live from Stricken City on Vimeo.