When I first heard Challenger Deep, the debut EP from Swiss art-pop duo DIVVAS, I felt kinda blue. Their music put me in a similar space to Portishead’s Dummy. Because their tunes are equally dark and poetic, incisive and raw. At least, that’s my experience, one that I happen to share with one-half of the project, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Corinne Norah. The other half of the group, Dave Eleanor, claims, as you will read below, that this EP is somewhat of a joyful affair. What is that saying? One man’s blue is an another man’s orange? I don’t know! I just made that up! Anyway, the record is wonderful and it’s out on BlauBlau Records / Slow Dance. Give it a spin, because it’s definitely worth it: https://lnk.site/challenger-deep
And after you soak it up, maybe drop us a line and tell us what emotions it stirred up in you. Without further ado, here is our interview with the DIVVAS.
Your EP was created under some rather dark circumstances, would you say that you are generally inspired by murkier emotions?
Dave: Actually, I don’t feel that our music is so dark. I know I’m alone in thinking this. Lyrically, our songs are inspired by our personal experiences, but they also refer to our politics, take for example songs such Koac, Brave Boy Blues and Lied Für’s Volk. To me, our music is certainly intense, close and underpinned by a strong attitude, but this doesn’t necessarily make it dark. I often find myself in this discussion and, in the end, it’s probably just a matter of taste. I like music that does something to me, music that I can’t just consume passively. I don’t like superficiality, but I’m certainly not a child of sadness.
A bit of time had passed since you recorded these songs and since these difficulties had transpired, will it be hard to revisit this space? I’m thinking about you playing this material out live?
Corinne: That’s a fair question, and something that we’ve been talking about, as well. ‘Cause, as an individual, you always experience change with the passage of time. As artists, we want to include that change in our music. We don’t want to be stuck in one place and be labeled only by that. So are we in the same space now like when we did our EP, last September? No, we are not! We moved forward. But, still, we can relate to these states hat we were in back then, and we have added the experiences that we had in the meantime to the overall narrative. To answer your question fully, I don’t have to be in a dark space when I play these songs live in order to be able to tell you these heavy stories about what I had experienced in the past. What’s more important, is that I can always relate to these feelings when I sing about them. And I can do this, because I have experienced them at a very deep level. I dealt with them, overcame them and, in the end, I grew as a person because of them.
The two of you come from different backgrounds musically – improv jazz vs electronica – was it challenging for you to find a way to merge these worlds and approaches?
Corinne: Yes and No. Yes, in terms of how we’re used to approach music in a live setting. I come from a jazz background, where I’m used to reacting quickly to my surroundings, and I’m less used to a lot of fixed arrangements. I love to improvise, to feel this freedom – the open and undefined space, which also sometimes this entails taking a risk. No, in terms of the strong musical aesthetics which we share together. We almost always agree when it comes to musical taste, feeling and attitude. Well, I can’t warm up to Deutsch Rap (German Rap)! I’m sorry Dave! But that’s ok, too, I think. We also need to have our differences.
What have you learned from each other during the process?
Corinne: I really admire Dave as a producer, like the turns some of my ideas and song elements took when he took over. That was insane, and a very fascinating process for me to watch. He’s able to translate the sonorous visions that he has in his mind into his own musical language, which is a universe in itself. Compared to that, I feel like I’m providing the analog access to our music, the physical approach with a guitar or bass, or any sort of instrument which is played by hand, and singing is also a part of this, of course.
Dave: Thank you for the flowers Corinne! We have a good collab, I think. All the feedback that we give each other while writing is based on mutual respect. I like the sketches and the songs that Corinne writes, and when we work on the production it feels more like a discussion about the product, rather than two worlds competing with each other.
Is the DIVVAS sound by default dark or can we expect something more uplifting from you in the future?
Corinne: We’d love to leave that open. As we said in the beginning, we don’t like labels, and we always try to find ways to integrate whatever moves us at the present moment. This can include negative emotions, but it could also be a joyful experience. Let’s just see what happens.
Dave: more uplifting than our EP? (laughter)
Is there any hope to catch you live somewhere in the forthcoming months?
Dave: Sure! We’re planing a tour for the winter. You can find all the details on our social media channels. Thank you for the lovely questions.