Newcomers AVANTE BLACK make excellent use of psych-tinged melancholy vocals, bleary guitars and relatable lyrics to produce near-perfect alt-pop. The quartet – who are led by Ottilia Zimmerman Kjultsten – are rightly garnering a devoted following after the release of their debut single ‘Drug Money‘. With their co-headline show alongside Young Native fast approaching on the 21st of April (presented by HIDDEN HERD and Lost In The Manor), we caught up with the band’s effortlessly-endearing Swedish frontwoman Ottilia.
‘Drug Money’ is incredible. How did the song come about?
“Anyone would know living and working in London is hard. Low pay, high rent etc. Me and my friends used to always joke about dealing drugs and selling our underwear online. (Believe me we never did) but it’s thought you’d have sometimes. The song is just about that, it’s crazy to think that would be the easier way to make money.”
What artists do you find most inspirational?
“I used to be very, very against pop music for some reason. I used to think it was just not very cool because I’ve got this metal background. But I literally just started getting into pop music; someone I’ve been listening a lot to is Tove Lo. She’s so cool! I really look up to her charisma and the way she performs, she’s quite brutal. My friend just showed me this band called Puppy and they sound like Black Sabbath and Smashing Pumpkins morphed into one. It’s really poppy in the way that they sing the lyrics but it’s still quite heavy.
An artist I had not forgotten but had just not thought of is Lana Del Rey. I think she has us all under some strange spell. With her most recent song magic I feel like she’s been watching over me all these years just to now release a song telling me “Don’t worry baby”. I hope to be able to write music that moves people the way her music moves me.
On a recent travel to South Africa I listened to Frank Ocean‘s album Blonde. I don’t know if it was the, stunning coastline or the dreamy guitars and hazy vocals. But everything stopped right there for a moment. Songs like Ivy and White Ferrari will always bring me back to watching that coastline.”
How did Avante Black get together?
“I had written and recorded some demo’s of songs and I wanted to bring them to life with a band and find some people willing to play them. I was really nervous thinking no one would like the songs i’d written. Then I met Dean when he was drumming in my friends band Various Cruelties. After bonding over Captain Beefhart in a van from Sheffield we teamed up with Emil, whom I met through my Swedish friends. For months it was just drums, guitar and vocals which may have sounded good in our heads but when we finally found Gabs it started to sound listenable. Being in a band gave me a confidence I could never have imagined before. After about a year I finally started to realise what kind of music I wanted to write and how I wanted it to sound and this is where we are now!”
How was working with Luke Smith?
“When I first met him I was a bit nervous because, of course, he’s worked with my friends from Is Tropical and I really look up to them. He has a really funny way of explaining things – he just has so much to say and it all really makes sense. He’s like the first person, when it comes to production and technical talk, that made me actually listen. There hasn’t been anyone that’s done that before.”
How did you come up with your band name?
“We started thinking about using my name but I was like I don’t really want to use my name. I just wanted a cool band name and the unity that comes with it. We came up with loads of boring names. I used to just wear black, like my mum would look at my clothes and just sigh all the time. Then I was telling that to a friend and he was talking about vantablack, which is like to darkest colour in the world. So we started being called that. Then we had a little word-play with that and came up with AVANTE BLACK.”
Any other new bands that you’ve played with and would recommend?
“Sweat are an AMAZING band I fell in love with last year. I remember walking up to the singer Dante saying I’d love to support them. Randomly we played the same stage at Live at Leeds, they ended up asking us support them at Moth Club and we’re now friends! Things are going really well for theses guys, I knew it from the first second I heard them play they were something special!
Also by a very strange coincidence at Abbie MaCarthey’s Good Karma Club we played with Low Island. 4 years ago I sang on a housetrack they had made and always wondered what happened. This new project is sounding magical. Can’t wait to hear more!!”
What are your plans for 2017?
“We’re still in the process of deciding where we’re playing but we’re hoping to do as much as possible! Recently we’ve just started nailing the live shows completely and we’re so happy and just excited every time we play. We’ve got our gig at The Finsbury on the 21st of April coming up though.”
Have you got a dream venue that you would love to headline one day?
“There’s a really cool venue in Stockholm that I did play once supporting this band called Lonely Dear. It was kinda weird because I had just turned 18 and I was opening up for this massive band. I would like to go back there with this band in a more mature way. In London there’s this new place called Omeara that’s supposed to be amazing. Thinking on a bigger scale, I would love to play Brixton Academy. I love to way the floor slopes and seeing it from the outside it looks a bit like a castle.”