Featured, Music

In The Zone: Interview with Cloud Control’s Heidi Lenffer

September 15, 2017

The end of winter was blessed this month with exciting new album releases from Aussie indie musicians, pumping up music fans for the rest of spring. Now you can finally get into the Zone and listen to Cloud Control’s third, highly anticipated album, (of that name). Although minus a bass player, CC’s latest tunes produced by lead singer, Alistair Wright, have remained true to their much-loved feel-good beats with a dose of their retro-mellow, somewhat melancholic vibes.

Just being released over a week ago, the fans are quick to respond with enthusiastic admiration; tunes such as Rainbow City, Panopticon, Treetops and Zone (This Is How It Feels) have over 100,000 plays on Spotify. Whether it’s a head-bobbing road trip along The Great Ocean Road, chilling out at a cool Fitzroy bar, hooking up with a lover, or throwing a dinner party with friends, Zone has a cool tune fit for every momentous event. Your memories will be imprinted in their songs, which you’ll relive with every click of the repeat button (or at least Promises has for me). The dynamic trio’s name has popped up at earthy festivals such as Falls, The Big Pineapple, The Hills Are Alive, as well as supporting Melbourne-loved bands such as Angus and Julia Stone, Foo Fighters, Arcade Fire, and more. They’re a regular pop-up on Triple J’s music scene, playing sold out shows across an international scale.

I was lucky enough to snag an interview with band member, Heidi Lenffer, vocalist accompanied by the keyboard and/or tambo to discuss the latest release of…

Inner Circle: Zone [which was] released today! How are you guys feeling about it?

Heidi Lenffer: Ahh, brilliant…we had a quiet coffee together this morning and thought about the last three years and it’s just this classic turning point, like a new chapter. There’s something really… the last few months felt like hues of yesterdays. In a sense that, you know, in comparison to today. We’ve been building up towards something for three years that we can walk forward with into a new something, yeah, feeling great.

IC: That’s great! Because I know you guys wanted to make it in a year and it took 3 years, but do you think that process of letting it develop over 3 years has let it become better in a sense?

HL: I guess that’s a difficult question to answer. I mean, this album is a production; a lot of the sounds were shaped over doing so many versions of the same song that allowed a greater degree of experimentation than previous records have, so, yeah, I guess you could say it sounds like a product of endless experimentation probably, but also refinement that we permitted ourselves to do over the years.

IC: That’s awesome. So, if this album were a person at a party, what type of person would it be?

HL: Um…the one that was really late. Like, so late you thought they weren’t coming. And then they do turn up and go to the stereo and change the music but they put on something that is kind of nostalgic and people appreciate it, but it doesn’t kill the mood.

IC: [laughing]: For sure. Is there a song on this album that resonates with you above all else?

HL: Probably the songs I wrote, I guess. Maybe Zone…the title track Zone – we choose it to be the title track because we wrote it really collaboratively and it represented us getting into a new gear of writing together; after writing individually and butting heads on how the record should sound, writing Zone together was a turning point, so it’s a bit of a side-kick song for us because of that reason. And I do get a bit teary sometimes when we play it live and rehearsing it because it represents unity for me. So I’d say that.

IC: So you played at Howler earlier in June this year…

HL: Oh, that was one of the best shows!

IC: Why did that performance stand out so much to you?

HL: Whenever we play in Melbourne it’s a deeper scene. It’s evident in the fact that people sing the lyrics and they know the deep album cuts – like the tracks that didn’t get radio play or whatever. So I think it’s indicative of a real comprehensive engagement with records that seems to be present in the community. I don’t know if that’s northern Melbourne based, or just Melbourne in general, but it’s a city that loves music. So we’ve always had our best crowds there, or, well, our biggest and thoughtful crowds. When you’re playing a show, sometimes crowds can come across as thoughtful and that doesn’t necessarily translate to whether they’re dancing or watching with folded arms, but there’s sort of a feeling in the room like, it’s coming from a breadth of appreciation that’s remarkable.

For example, at our Howler show, there was a group of people at the back of the room who were singing all of the backing vocals for Dream Cave – one of the songs on our second record, to the point that I forgot to come in at one point and they came in instead. So, you know, when the crowd could be a stand-in for your own role on stage, there’s obviously a level of commitment there that we really appreciate.

IC: That’s so cool! So, since beginning this album up until this point now, what’s the most surreal experience that you’ve had, or difficult/challenging encounter?

HL: We frequented different locations to do this – a travelling studio, really. We had all our gear ready to up-and-lift wherever we wanted, but we moved places probably 5 times. The longest spell in one area was living in a little place called Charlotte Bay on the North Coast and we were there for about 4 months, us 3 living in a 2 bedroom holiday beach house, which was beautiful as you can imagine it would be. The daily activity would be to write music and create an album and there are only so many places you can escape to to take a break from that. We definitely got a good dose of cabin fever and that was sort of echoed in the weather of the area as well. So these giant storms would roll in cause our house was situated between the inlet on one side and this lake on the other side, so it could whip up these giant storms within half an hour and the sky would turn orange…it was just a really naturally tormented place – beautiful to live in but also meant that it was quite a dramatic climate to live in. The changes in the weather…felt like a fitting backdrop to the creative processes that were going on inside that house, and how at times it was quite hard, other times it felt magical cause you could finish a song and then be on the beach in a minute, listening back to it on your phone and feeling like a million bucks. And then you get a celebratory milkshake and do it all again. Everyday.

IC: You’re living the life, really!

HL [laughing]: Do you forget the bit where it was hard, though? It was hard at times.

IC: No doubt. So you’ve played at many festivals and been support acts for heaps of popular bands. Have you ever had a fangirl moment where you couldn’t believe you were up there?

HL: Oh, yeah, so many! I’m a constant fangirl. My biggest fangirl moment, we did the Laneway festival and Beach House were playing, so we had 5 opportunities to share a stage with them. And I was basically biding my time, waiting for the right incidental, casual moment to tell Victoria how much I loved her music, and her voice and lyrics, and how important that whole experience was to me in a band experience. And I finally caught her backstage and…it went down very awkwardly. And it wasn’t her fault at all, I wished I hadn’t said anything because now my memory of it is like…ugh, dying a small moment inside. But at least it was quick and I didn’t waffle, I stated my piece in a couple of sentences and then got out of there.

And then we played a show, opening for Arcade Fire in Milan on a really hot summer’s day. So hot, in fact, that one stage light blew up whilst we were sound checking – caught on fire and we had to evacuate the stage…but we were very fortunate enough to meet with Win, and he was very lovely and gracious, and I was able to tell him how much Crown of Love meant to me – it’s my favourite song, and I asked if they were gonna play it later and he said that they weren’t because they hadn’t played it for years. So that was the end of that, but later in the show, he introduced the fact that this next song is going out to Cloud Control, it’s called Crown of Love and he started the song, completely forgot the lyrics and started a second time but…it was just the best feeling, sitting side of stage, I was punching the air furiously throughout that song.

IC: That’s so cool. So do you have any plans for the future?

HL: We’re playing at The Croxton on the 28th of September. We’ve also been talking about starting recording, which is cool because, I think, releasing an album is the milestone you need to switch gears, and now that that’s done today we’re like, okay, gotta get back to work and I think we’ll need to incorporate writing and recording into the performance process of this current record. And, if you come to the show, you’ll get to see Alistair’s little brother, Doug, who’s playing bass with us! Since we lost our former bass player, Doug’s been learning bass to play in the band and it’s been a steep learning curve, we’ve been rehearsing a lot, but I think he’s ready and coming on tour for the first time so this’ll be the first ever show that he’ll play bass live. So if you come along, start a chant, Doug, Doug, Doug, Doug!

For tickets to Cloud Control’s next Melbourne show at The Croxton in Thornbury, click here: https://thecroxton.oztix.com.au/Default.aspx?Event=76518

You can keep up to date with Cloud Control at facebook.com/cloudcontroller

Inner Circle Magazine would love to thank Heidi Lenffer and Rachael Carroll for sparing the time to organise and participate in this interview

From Inner Circle Magazine, we wish to congratulate Cloud Control on their new album! Their latest tunes are already locked and saved in the ‘good’ playlist on our ITunes.

Photography kindly provided by Mushroom Group


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