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Sur Back

Rising Star: Sur Back

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Rising Star is a recurring column written by Dylan Tracy, contributor. It consists of an interview and an exclusive premiere. Today’s feature is on Caroline Sans, or Sur Back, her solo art pop project, and her new video for her first single, “Jane Eyre.”

Caroline Sans is a magician. Google her solo moniker’s name, and you’ll find her SoundCloud, where you can be transported to another realm by her enchanting, clever art pop. However, she doesn’t have albums or even an EP, but she has two singles, one cover, and a few demos. “Jane Eyre,” the lead single from her upcoming 2015 album (no date has been scheduled yet) Kitsch, unfurls and gyrates with distinctly incredible passion that comes off as a deeply in-tune tone, thumping at 13 beats a measure. Everything about Sur Back sounds ready for thousands and thousands to engorge upon, and her latest single, “Occam’s Razor,” only furthers that ambitious statement. Downtempo, but surreally evocative, the latter track evokes a certain stroke of genius. And while we wait for Kitsch to writhe into the sunlight and wrap us all together, here’s the stunning, gorgeous video for “Jane Eyre,” directed by Derek Mitchell and Tatiana Cardenas.

I hope the holidays were a splendid time for you! I got a bunch of good records. What did you get for Christmas?

That sounds great! Hmm, I got some clothes and jewelry, money towards my dream amp …oh, and somebody wrote me a song!

As far as Sur Back goes, it’s all you, correct? You play all the instruments?

I do! I play guitar, sing, and play MIDI sometimes live, and I make the arrangements/samples beforehand. It started out really primitive, just recording straight into a loop pedal and then moving the tracks into Garageband, but I started using Ableton and Waves about a year ago, and now I’m really getting into composing with winds and brass on this latest one!

sur backHow long have you been writing music for the moniker Sur Back?

I started writing music in high school, but I settled on the moniker in my first year of college.

Your debut album, titled Kitsch, is reported by Impose as being released “sometime in 2015.” Is there a more specific date for release yet?

Haha, I would love there to be, but everything is really up in the air right now and I’m not sure if I’ll be releasing the album independently or not. I spend a lot of time fantasizing about how good it will feel when it’s finally out!

Are you a fan of St. Vincent? I find you both similar in many fundamentals. You’re music pulses like hers – artsy, catchy, and gorgeous. I was just a little curious, haha.

I think I’m her number one fan! I cried after I met her, wrote her a super embarrassing card and everything. She’s definitely my heaviest contemporary influence, so much so that I have to remind myself to push my songs a bit away from her sound every so often.

“Jane Eyre” floors me every single time I hear it, and of the 3,600 plays on SoundCloud, I’m sure I’m at least 500 of them. Where does that song come from?

Thank you so much! That song is exciting for me in a lot of ways. It puts some of those long hours in literature classes to use, it was the first song produced for “Kitsch” that really sounded like I wanted it to, and I loved that I started writing on 13 beats per measure and ended up with a pop song. I can’t wait for the video to come out and show it in a whole new light!

Your cover of New Order’s “Age Of Consent” is really incredible, and I usually hate New Order covers. But I have to ask, Joy Division or New Order?  

Well I’m glad I could bend your blasé a bit! New Order all the way.

sur backWhat was the last album that you purchased? How was it?

Lydia Ainsworth’s Right From Real. It’s practically a dream–if you like orchestral, glitchy pop you have to check it out.

And, lastly, how did the video come together?

Caroline: I’m going to co-answer this one! My super talented friends from high school, Tatiana Cardenas and Derek Mitchell (co-directors), led a team of friends and family to make the video.

Tatiana: Well, I had heard about Caroline’s music since high school, and I showed Derek, and we were both really into it. So, since he is studying film, and I’ve done film in the past, we thought it could be a really cool idea to make a music video together. A win-win for everyone. We called up Caroline and she was totally down, and once we were all back in Florida, we met up and started brainstorming. We were inspired by artists such as St. Vincent, Anna Calvi, and Grimes, and looked at their videos as resources to learn from.

Derek: We put a great team together and shot an array of scenes around the town of Jupiter, FL. Most all of the video was shot in darkness, lit from one source, which blends the present with the past. After shooting the scene where Caroline is hanging out of the car window, the old Jeep Wagoneer conked out and wouldn’t start, our friend Molly got out of the chase car from where I was shooting and kicked the gas tank like a boss. It immediately started back up and we continued on our way.

And, if you’re any other kinds of curious about the video, here’s more information, straight from Caroline herself:

– The video plays on the text of “Jane Eyre,” motifs like the Red Room, but also adapts to the structure of the song’s lyrics. The video plot is structured around three conflicts in which the protagonist is witnessing some sort of wrongdoing/tragedy but is powerless to interfere …that is, until the song’s breakdown where that cycle is broken in some sort of archetypal rebirth scene out of the ocean off the coast of our hometown in South Florida.

– All three of us went to high school together at Dreyfoos School of the Arts in West Palm Beach – I was a theater major and they were in digital media.

– I’m actually terrified of boats, but we had to the “new wave kind of love” scene on Derek’s father’s speedboat, and he fished off the side while we shot the scene.

– The green light/water scene was filmed in the Intracoastal Waterway, which is Derek/Shanley’s backyard – while shooting this, the underwater light attracted a numerous amount of sea creatures: I was barefoot and greeted by a sting ray, a shrimp, and a seahorse.

– The part where I fall into the water took about 50 tries. I finally I had to hug a brick in order to sink enough to get the shot; basically, I felt like a stuntwoman a lot of times during the making of this.

Written by Dylan Tracy

OurVinyl | Contributor