Intimate Stranger talk Lollapalooza, new projects, and getting domestic

Tessie Woodgate and Lau Vera, aka Mr. and Mrs. Stranger, sat down with Revolver to discuss their latest goings-on. And with their first Lollapalooza, a recently released digital album and newly debuted music video, soundtracking a surf film, and raising a family, there is certainly a lot to catch up on since the last time Revolver checked in.

 Phillip, Lau, Tessie, and Mogles of Intimate Stranger
Phillip, Lau, Tessie, and Mogles of Intimate Stranger

Tessie, with long-winged eyeliner and studded Steve Madden sneakers, is wearing a red trench coat that perfectly matches the cafe wall we’re sitting beside. Lau is rocking an army-green peacoat and a disheveled Beatles-esque haircut. They order a piece of pie to share, and Tessie orders a cup of tea (which ultimately never comes, in typical fashion). They've driven in from their home outside Santiago, on their way to another interview with Radio Uno.

So you guys are busy getting ready for Lollapalooza, you guys excited?
L and T: Yeah!

First Time at Lollapalooza?
T: Yeah

That's big news for you guys. So what does this mean for Intimate Stranger as a band?
L: well there’s been a lot of help, with like... a lot of press are interested, new people visiting the website, to check out the bands... a lot of different people that didn't know the band before can check out the band, the Myspace... well not Myspace, not anymore! The website, the Facebook or whatever.
T: Yeah, there’s a lot more press, and it’s a big stage as well. Anytime you do a bigger show, like when we played with Interpol, like in bigger venues, then afterwards you get loads more people....

And who are you interested to see at Lollapolooza?
L: Cachureos!... No, that’s a Chilean joke.
T: Tell us, we don’t know who Cachureos are.
L: It’s like, a children’s program... sorry, it was a really bad joke.
T: I’d like to see the Black Keys, but that’s on Sunday.

Are you guys going to go for the whole time?
L: Yeah we want to but we don’t know if we’re allowed to go.

So you also just came out with a digital album [free for download, here] called Above... the concept is that it’s a compilation of minimal versions of previous songs. So what was the idea behind making this digital download?
L: Well, we just made it digital because we had no [intention] of production, of like CDs, or vinyl or anything, so digital was the way.
T: What was the concept for doing the album... I think, basically, it came out of a conversation because we wanted to start doing different shows, aside from the shows we do normally, with the whole band. We wanted to start doing shows just the two of us. Just to have the opportunity to play more and do something a bit different. So we started preparing songs, and we’ve done quite a few shows like that, just the two of us, recently, like over the course of the last two months. Oh, I know what happened! Radio Horizonte said they’d lend us their studio...
L: The people from the radio [station] ... that doesn’t exist anymore...they lent us the studio for free, to record the album.

 Available for free download now!
Available for free download now!

T: Yeah, we were talking to people from there one day, and they said, “y’know, we’re closing soon,” and we said, “it’d be sort of nice, like, to do one last thing.” And, I think it was nice to record the songs in a different way. There’s songs from all three albums. When we play, with the four of us... we never really play songs off the first album.. I don’t know why, like the sound, we never quite get it just right, so it was also an opportunity to go back to those first things we’d ever done, and look at them again and take the real skeletons of the songs, and break them down and play sort of the most minimal version.

Do you think a more minimal version affects the songs, or their meanings, a little bit?
T: It’s nice because you can hear a lot more vocals... there’s percussion on there, but it’s really quiet, you can really pick out the guitar’s melodies, and the vocals are really, like, present, more than on any of the other albums. And we got to sing together, which we don’t really do.

Tell me a little more about the song writing process. Do you guys write everything together, or does one part come first?
L: Generally I do the music, not always but generally, and Tessie writes the lyrics. And then, we make it work together. After that we get together with the rest of the band, with Phillip and Mogles, and we start playing it in different ways, until we like the way it sounds.

So Tessie, where do you get the concepts for the songs? There’s a lot of imagery from nature, and a little bit of a dark side... where do you pull inspiration from?
T: My dark side! No, actually a lot of the time the songs don’t have one specific meaning, like the song’s about this or the song’s about that. I think the process is, generally, trying to find ideas and words together that do create an image. And generally, when I sing the songs, the feeling around the song is.. they are very visual, trying to create an atmosphere. There’s not really specific themes, but it kind of varies by album, the last album definitely was inspired by nature, and landscapes, and travelling. That album, most of it was written when we were travelling, anyway.

Would you rather do a big festival, or a tour?
L: A tour with big festivals.

And who would you like to tour with in the future? Like, a dream band.
L: Well there’s a lot of dream bands... like, the Cure, would be good.
T: That might be crazy, ha... There’s a lot of cool bands coming in this year, like Beach House.... but the Cure is probably the biggest thing happening at the moment.

So Tessie, you’re originally from Croatia, what brought you here to Chile?
T: I was born in Croatia but I was studying in England, and I came here for a year abroad. And we met that year while I was doing that. And then I had to go back, and finish my studies, and Lau went back with me, and we lived a year in Brighton. And then I came back, and then we kind of moved backwards and forwards, for years. Up until last year.

So do feel like you’re settling more now? Or, you still haven’t decided?
L: I think now we’re more settled. There was a period where we were always trying to be somewhere else..
T: Yeah, like feeling like, always being on the move. Not like, escaping, but kind of thinking, alright next we’re gonna go there... you never really settle. I like being settled. This is a nice place to live. We have a house here.
L: And family things... We also have a daughter, she’s now going to school.
T: We've become really domestic!

There’s something nice in that, though!
T: Yeah, I think the plan is to be sort of based here, and spend half the time doing other things.

 photos courtesy of Intimate Stranger
photos courtesy of Intimate Stranger

I always think it’s fascinating when you combine your personal life with your creative life or work life. Are there some challenges to working with your spouse?
T: Ummm challenges, yeah it can be quite challenging. Everyone kind of has their role, I think that’s how it is with a band in general, everyone kind of has their thing that they do. Everyone’s kind of got their space... that’s the thing though, when you’re living together, and working together, there’s the danger of getting a bit over-saturated.
L: The good thing is like, every time you have a band with your friends, when you go to play, your girlfriend gets really mad...
T:, “You spend too much time with the band!”
L:...So playing with your girlfriend is good, because of that, you can travel, you can can do things.
T: It’s a lot easier, you do a lot more than some people, I don’t know. Like, our studio and rehearsal space is at home, so you can get up in the morning and do your stuff, you don’t have to schedule things or coordinate stuff.

So with your acoustic stuff, do you have shows coming up, separate from the rest of the band?
L: Yeah, on Wednesday the 10th, we’ve got a gig, at a movie premiere... It’s a film about surfing. We’re playing because the soundtrack is our music.

Oh cool, what’s the film called?
L:Tierras Lejanas, like.. ‘far far away.’
T: It’s gonna be really good, it looks amazing. Like, they traveled all around Chile.

So, how did you get tapped for this project?
L: They came to us, and asked to use our music, and we offered to use the new album. And they use the album as the soundtrack. So it’s the story of this little kid that finds surfing...
T: And he’s a major surfer now.
L: Yeah, the cool thing is, that guy is like the major surfer in Chile now... and they got a lot of funds to travel all over Chile, like to the south. You see him surfing with glaciers, with whales and stuff.

 photos courtesy of Intimate Stranger
photos courtesy of Intimate Stranger

Okay, this is a random question, probably the last... it’s a style question- for people who are new to Santiago, where would you recommend good places to shop?
T: We’re really bad at that! I get told off by my band, so... that’s why I need to find someone to help me.
L: We buy cheap stuff, but there are two prices in Santiago. I know girls go to buy stuff in Meiggs... near Estacion Central.
T:I have friends who buy all their clothes there, you can find trousers for like 1000 pesos.
L: And it’s the same quality as something you find in Falabella. It’s not like a friendly place though... it’s like going to Singapore, some weird place in Asia, you see people with bikes and chickens and stuff like that.
T: But I don’t usually buy very many clothes when I’m in Santiago.
L: There’s this one place called I’m Not Dead, it’s an Argentinian brand, but all the Argentinian brands are really expensive here... what I was going to say though, is the second price people pay is at the ferias.
T: And like Bandera Street...second hand clothes. But Nostalgic and Orange are expensive, you have to go to the places where they buy their stuff.
L: Yeah, we don’t really buy clothes... We’re trying to find sponsors!
Okay, I’ll put the word out! []

Intimate Stranger will be playing at Lollapalooza Chile 2013 on Saturday, April 6, at 5:30 pm on the Lotus Stage. You can find out more about the band and upcoming shows via their facebook or website:

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