Alternative-pop quartet The Gift are back with their new single ‘Love Without Violins’ featuring Brian Eno, who also co-wrote and produced the track. It was released yesterday via their own label, La Folie Records. The single was taken from their upcoming new album, ‘Explode’, which features the Grammy-nominated Eno on several tracks. It was mixed by legendary producer, Flood. Eno co-composed the music and co-wrote the lyrics for those songs with the band’s keyboardist Nuno Gonçalves, and singer Sonia Tavares, respectively.
The Gift are Portugal’s biggest musical export, with ‘Explode’ debuting at number 1 on that nation’s charts. They have shared the stage with the likes of Arcade Fire, Bloc Party, and Portishead, and went on to win an MTV Europe award for the best Portuguese act, and have toured the USA and Canada, supporting Anna Calvi.
We asked The Gift six quick questions – plus a bonus one.
EP: Describe your music.
TG: Our music is actually something very difficult to define in one category. Throughout the years we’ve used string orchestras, we’ve used brass instruments, we’ve used electronic instruments, rock guitars or piano in most of the compositions.
The most recognisable element of the band is Sonia’s versatile voice and powerful performances. The aesthetics of the songs are mainly elegant in what some people consider to be anything from “adult contemporary” , “indie” or “alternative” – depending of the countries – but we prefer to consider our music as an open category where we can use all the instruments and ideas we want!
EP: Tell us about The Gift! Who are you, where are you from, what have you done?
TG: We are a band from Alcobaça, Portugal, a small town with 6000 people. We started our career as an independent band and we kept the DIY approach right up until today. We have our own label, we take care of our bookings, management and we are an established band in Portugal, Spain or Brazil although we also played festivals and several tours in North/South America, Europe, Australia and Asia. We have several albums available all over the world via digital streaming or iTunes and now we are finishing what we consider to be our most important album so far with production from Brian Eno and mixing done by Flood.
EP: What was it like working with Brian Eno on ‘Love Without Violins’? How did it happen that you came to work with him?
TG: The first time Brian saw the band Live was in Vigo, Spain and we invited him to meet us some weeks after in order to create something together but no one was aware, at the time, that this collaboration would lead to a full album.
We met him throughout the last 2 years and this song “Love Without Violins” is the first single of the album that will be out in 2017 and where Brian co-composed and co-wrote most of the songs with us.
In this one specifically, the structure of the song is very different from what we normally do. We have Sonia singing on the first part in a very dark electronic environment with strong dominant words which continues to an instrumental that leads into Brian’s singing in the end.
EP: The video for ‘Love Without Violins’ is very striking, visually. Talk us through it. What’s it all mean? What’s the song about?
TG: We wanted a video where the focus was more technical than narrative. We think the video should allow people to know our work and is an essential tool to spread our art. In this video we wanted to show the many facets of Sonia, including several vocal facets and therefore the idea of showing various “Sonias” throughout. The beginning of the video is very theatrical but when this first part ends and the sound atmosphere changes to a long instrumental, the look of the video also changes: suddenly, we move to a “real” place and begin to follow a “real” person – everything becomes more cinematic.
We were fortunate to be able to count on a technical dream team that ensured us a great styling, impeccable photography and an endless dubious love. Art, Love.
EP: What’s next on the horizon for The Gift?
TG: Our next months will be spent working on the preparation of the release in 2017, promoting the singles and rehearsing for what we want to be our longest tour so far. We believe we will have the chance to present this new album live in several festivals, clubs, theatres, venues around the world and this is what we are focused on now.
EP: What would you do differently if you had the chance?
TG: We did what we could do as best we could in all the moments of our career and everything else that we can’t control, we don’t worry much about.
We believe that strategically maybe we did one mistake or another, but that is totally normal and in the artistic part we all know that albums can’t be changed because they record a moment for eternity but we can change, adapt and do other versions on the live shows and throughout the years we have done that sometimes.
EP: What question do you wish someone would ask you in an interview but nobody ever does?
Why do you consider Pedro Almodovar the best European Director?
You can download ‘Love Without Violins’, by The Gift, featuring Brian Eno, on iTunes.