Interview with Corinne Norah and Dave Eleanor of DIVVAS
The music that Corinne Norah and Dave Eleanor make under the DIVVAS moniker is both absolutely breathtaking and devastatingly brutal. This is one of the reasons why it’s such a prescient and apt soundtrack, considering the current state of the world! In the words of Dave Eleanor: “If your music does not radiate an attitude in 2020, you are probably a rather ignorant person.”
To unpack this wild mixture of electronica, jazz and art pop and learn what Challenger Deep EP is really all about, we sat down with Corinne and Dave and let them do all the talking. Challenger Deep is currently out on BlauBlau Records / Slow Dance.
Are the DIVVAS really divas?
Corinne: We’re both Virgos, born one day apart from each other, right in the middle of September. We’re definitely both very sensitive and attentive to what’s happening around us. In that sense, yes! We can both react strongly to something that doesn’t feel right. Does that make us divas? I think, in general, we’re both pretty uncomplicated and flexible people who are easy to get along with.
Musically you two are a perfect fit, do you see love in a similar way? I’m curious because this seems to be the definitive theme on this EP.
Dave: I have to counter that, a bit. Personal experiences on the emotional level are certainly an important part of this EP but, above all, the lyrics speak on the topic of self-discovery, growing in strength, a clear attitude be it political or emotional. Anyway, I don’t know if we see love in a similar way, but we sure both like to paint big pictures with our stories, which makes it easy for us to write.
What is love in 2020? And do you think this whole COVID situation will affect how people relate to each other, with all the body contact restrictions and all?
Corinne: I think love doesn’t care about years and numbers. At least real love doesn’t! COVID shows a strong relocation from the physical to the digital space. It’s not only negative ‘cause I guess a lot of us have been more socially connected with people with whom we haven’t been in touch with for a while because of our busy schedules. We suddenly had more time to think about who’s actually in our life, and how much space we want to give these social connections. That’s definitely a good thing. The thing I’m scared of is when it comes to romantic love that we will relocate from the physical to the digital space even more. And when I say real love doesn’t care about years and numbers, this also includes the web in a way, ‘cause it’s built on numbers and not real physical encounters.
Some of these songs have this very loose, improvisational aspect to them, which makes them very interesting and surprising. How important is improvisation to your creative process, and does it come to the forefront even more when you play out live?
Corinne: Improvisation is at the core of my musical expression. It comes from a very free and unrestricted place, where I allow everything to happen if it needs to. Later on in the process of songwriting, you start to restrict certain ideas, shape and form the actual song. For me, in the end, I want to give some freedom back when it comes to playing live, yes! But we haven’t fully figured out how to do this yet. We’re working on it.
There is only one song on the EP which is sung in what I believe to be Swiss–German. How important was it to release a song in your native tongue?
Dave: Lied Für’s Volk deals with turning away from one’s own tradition and therefore it was logical to sing it in Swiss German. We like languages very much, and we like to play with them. In the future you can expect a multilingual album rather than an entire album in just one language.
So much is going on in the world at the moment, have you noticed how your music has adjusted or responded to that? Have you had a chance to make new music during this time?
Corinne: Yes, our music is a direct response to the processes that occur around us, within us, that happen in the world and matter to all of us. Like our first single, Koac, which talks about revenge and police brutality. While we were recording it we couldn’t have guessed that it would fit perfectly into the present debate, once it finally came out. We want our music to have a purpose, an attitude, a meaning and to be a reflection of this strange time that we’re living in.
Dave: I even think it is impossible not to respond to it. If your music does not radiate an attitude in 2020, you are probably a rather ignorant person.ù
What is it like to have a long-distance musical relationship? What are some of the upsides and downsides…
Dave: We take turns working online, which means that we send sketches back and forth, give each other feedback, continue to produce etc. Once we are in the studio together, we work with a lot of focus. I actually like that very much. It is intense when it comes to writing, and when it comes to detail-based work, you can work at your own pace. The fact that we work from two cities is also an advantage and it allows us to work with the exciting London-based label Slow Dance as well as with the Zurich based label BlauBlau Records. The downside is playing live. I think you should invest as much time as possible in rehearsals and tours which, of course, is not so easy when you always have to plan everything precisely.
What’s on the horizon for the DIVVAS?
Dave: Features with Arca, Fka Twigs and Björk! Then a tour with Tirzah and James Blake. After that I want to adopt a dog.
Corrie: Thank you for the cool interview.