vendredi 1 février 2019

Interview : Halflives (english version)

Earlier this year, we met Linda Battilani, frontwomen of the italian rock alternative band Halflives.

AlternativNews: Hello, and happy new year 2019 ! As I usually ask as a first question, can you introduce yourself?

Linda Battilani (vocals): Hey! Happy New Year to you too, thanks for having me, here’s Linda from Halflives speaking!

The band is originally coming from Italy but you established yourself in France, why this choice?

I moved to France a couple years ago for personal reasons and after that we had a lineup change and a new member from Paris joined in (Tony, guitarist). Since half of the band is now here and our management/booking team is also based in Paris, we thought that it made more sense to locate the HQ of the band here!

You have a distinctive sound: female fronted band, electric touches, catchy and pop-ish choruses still with alternative music influences in the melodies. How would you describe your band? Who are your main influences?

It’s a tricky one because I can either write you 20 pages about my writing process, everything I do and listen to, or sum it up in a couple lines but it would obviously be restrictive (plus you already came up with a pretty accurate description in the question itself!). In a matter of influences, I get inspired not only by other artists I listen to but also by movies and video games (which I play a lot). Music-wise I mostly listen to pop music now so that’s where the catchiness comes from. As for the rock part that’s what is left from everything I’ve been listening to since I was a teenager, so you could say that Halflives’ music is a mix of who I am now and who I was before.

Halflives has released a first album in April 2017, called Empty Rooms, which led you to tour in many countries in Europe. One year after, you released a new single called “Crown”, followed in November by another one: “Fugitive”. You got really productive! How do you process to write songs this fast?

This fast? I honestly feel that we’re taking our time, which is something I care about as I don’t want to release the first thing that comes to my mind. Before releasing a song there’s a lot of work, review and re-review behind it. Many of the songs that we pre-produced after "Empty Rooms" was released didn’t make it to the final step yet.

Let’s focus more on these brand new singles. Listening to it, they appeared to me more mature, more balanced than Empty Rooms and more powerful. For example, the chorus are very strong; the voice goes really high, higher than in the first material… In comparison to your first album, it seems that you really dare with these tracks. Was this the plan?

Of course! We wanted to aim higher with these songs, add new elements (in "Fugitive" you can hear a bit of trap, and in "Crown" a bit of Electronic Dance Music). At first when I try new things I’m always a bit afraid that the reaction from the audience may not be as enthusiastic as I am, but thankfully it totally was.

If we get logical, with “Fugitive”, and “Crown”, we might expect a brand new record for this year.

"Fugitive" and "Crown" are two standalone singles. We’re currently working on new songs, not labelling whether it will be an EP or an album or when it will be released. As I was telling you before, we’re taking out time and nothing will come out until I’m 100% convinced about a bunch of songs.

AN : Empty Rooms est sorti en full indé, produit mixé et masterisé par Francesco Catitti, ou Katoo. Vas-tu faire de même pour le prochain ?

LB : Katoo et moi avons une bonne relation professionnelle et c’est difficile de trouver la bonne entente pour l’écriture et la production. Depuis que je l’ai trouvée avec lui, je pense qu’on continuera de travailler ensemble aussi longtemps que possible (même si je travaille avec d’autres producteurs en même temps). Pour ce qui est de savoir si on sortira de nouvelles musiques indépendamment ou non, je ne peux pas encore le savoir.

Will you follow this sound direction for the upcoming disc?

For now, the previously mentioned "bunch of songs" in the making have different directions as I’m experimenting a bit of everything (piano and vocals only, 80s sounds, acoustic stuff, and also some of the good old Halflives sound). Once I’m done with the downpour of ideas I’ll make up my mind on one direction and I’ll take it from there.

Empty Rooms got released as full independent, produced, mixed and mastered by Francesco Catitti, aka Katoo. Will you do it the same way for the next one?

LB: Katoo and I have a good work relationship and it’s hard to find a good match for songwriting and production. Since I found it with him, I think we’ll definitely keep working together for as long as we can (even if I’m also working with other producers in the meantime). As for whether we’ll release new music independently or not, I cannot know yet.

2019 starts well for you as you will be touring in the UK supporting The Faim and Chapel. How do you feel about this?

We’re all excited, as it’s one of those opportunities we’ve been chasing for a while and it’s finally happening! Hopefully this will open new doors.

You already toured the UK, supporting Courage My Love, which is considered as one of the most difficult yet reactive crowd of this musical scene. How well did they receive you last time?

The crowd we’ve met have always been super responsive to our music and I find that in Paris in particular you guys are quite reactive to this type of music. On the opposite in Italy I feel like there’s not much room for this scene (and that’s why we don’t play there much).

Recently, Kerrang! and Alternative Press talked about you. How does it feel to be featured on such important medias for alternative music?

It’s something we could only dream of when we were young and inexperienced and started to play together. It seemed unreachable at the time and now it’s real so I’m happy about it!

On a totally different subject, Tony, who is French, joined you in August 2018 as a guitarist. How did this happen?

As I was telling you earlier, I moved to France a couple years ago and as our previous guitar player left the band I scouted options in Paris for a new member. As Tony was very willing to learn Italian and to bear me, he made it haha.

Weirdly enough, bands with a woman in their line-up are not so common in this scene, less than 100% men bands, and when a female-fronted band comes up, it is always compared to big bands with a woman like Paramore, PVRIS, Tonight Alive, Against The Current… I guess every band of the scene (with women or not) gets compared to some other at some point, so we, medias, can give orientations to our readers but I feel that we are less inspired when it comes to a band with a woman in it. Do you feel like always being compared to these, wrongly or not, can limit yourself in the creative process, or, in contrary, it motivates you to go above this, so maybe Halflives gets in the list I stated earlier?

Being compared to PVRIS is my new nightmare haha. A few years ago it was Paramore, now it’s PVRIS and every time I enter the studio my mantra is: it doesn’t have to sound like something that could be immediately compared to PVRIS. Despite all my efforts the comparison is done anyway so I just stopped caring about it. As you said it actually can help give an approximate idea of what we sound like to people who are not familiar with Halflives. But as we’re trying to emerge as a new band, we don’t want to sound like something that already exists so it’s very touchy. This is why I’m currently experimenting many new things, as I was telling you before.

What do you think the main reason about the lack of bands with women is?

I personally feel that there are more and more girls in the alternative scene. It’s not like 10 years ago when there were just Avril Lavigne and Hayley Williams (haha). We’re still a minority, but I don’t feel alone.

“We can’t wait to make 2019 our biggest and best year to date.” With such wise words I took from your Facebook page, I can guess that we might see you soon enough in France and in Europe, but we can also imagine that you aim to play in other countries, to have your own headline tour…

We actually announced a one-off show in Paris right after our UK tour with The Faim and Chapel, as we love to play here and the Paris crowd is one of our favorites: it’s on February 8th at L’International. As for headliner tours, we’re actually looking at taking a break from that, as we did many in promotion of "Empty Rooms". As I mentioned before I’m focusing on writing, but if other opportunities of support tours come up we’ll of course consider them.

Album, tours, videos… What can we expect from you in 2019?

You can expect a lot of teasing from the studio and eventually new music. As for when, how and on which planet, I can’t tell you!

And, because it is currently time to do so, what can we wish you for this new year?

Wish us "bonne chance"! We need a lot of it.

So we wish you this!

Thanks for having me, hope to see you soon and happy new year!

Axel G.

Thanks to Margaux from Anchor Agency

Interview made by mail on the 2nd of January 2019

crédits photos : Emma Forni / Chiara Ceccaioni / Recel W. Tonelada

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