To celebrate their album release we have an exclusive interview for DIVA readers
IMAGE BY ROSIE POWEL
Alt-pop Brighton duo, ARXX (comprised of Hanni Pidduck and Clara Townsend), deliver their debut album Ride Or Die, a display of queer love and a cathartic exploration of mental health struggles and heartbreak. In the last few years, Hanni and Clara have released critically acclaimed EPs and singles, and have as toured with the likes of Yungblud, The Big Moon, Dream Wife and Pillow Queens.
DIVA: If you had to describe ARXX to people who don’t know you, what would you say?
Hanni: The best elevator pitch we’ve ever been given is, we’re like Taylor Swift if she’d only ever listened to Nirvana.
Your new album Ride Or Die is your biggest body of work that you’ve released to date. What is the best part of the whole album making process?
Hanni: There was a real sweet spot in the recording where everything felt so fresh and fun. We were taking the songs to places we haven’t been before and exploring what this band could be. It was a really exciting time.
Clara: I obviously really enjoyed the music part, but I also love that we’ve gone mad with the merch and the stage show. It’s been fun thinking about the album as a whole concept.
What was the most challenging part of producing the album?
Hanni: Knowing when it’s finished, when everything is ready to go and when it sounds coherent, is quite a weird and difficult balance. Luckily, our producer, Steve, is amazing at knowing exactly what we want and what we can achieve.
Thematically, the album explores mental health challenges heartbreak and love. Those are typically quite complex topics to discuss. What does your writing process look like?
Hanni: The process can be really mixed. It used to be very instinctive and in the moment – something would just come to like word vomit, but more poetic. On this record, sometimes the music dictated what the song was going to be about. With the song Ride Or Die, we had the music before we had the lyrics, and I just knew that it had to be about something I really cared about – so queerness was what I chose.
Do you have a favourite song on the album?
Clara: Mine is Ride Or Die. I just think it’s very fun and it’s so fun to play live as well.
Hanni: I personally, feel so proud of that song, it’s one of the strongest we’ve ever written. It’s about queer love and being queer and not caring about what other people say, and that makes me feel immensely proud.
How important is sincerity in your music and how important is it to have the freedom to express yourself, especially as a queer band?
Hanni: It’s so important. I’m not trying to write a song for a band, I’m expressing something that needs to come out and writing songs is just how I know to do it. In the past I’ve been told to change the pronouns in my songs to be more mainstream, and it’s just something I’ve never felt okay, or comfortable with. I’m a queer woman so that is going to be evident in my songs.
Are there any songs on the album that surprised you?
Clara: God Knows ended up far more pop than we expected and almost electronic. We never thought that it would go on the album, but we just love it.
Of all the songs on the album, is there one that was the most fun to produce?
Clara: Ride Or Die was so fun to produce because so many parts of it happened accidentally. The snare sound is Hanni with scissors, there’s a ding sound from a microwave in there somewhere.
Hanni: Yeah, I agree. Steve added an effect onto the bridge as a joke and when we listened to it, we ended up loving it. It was a good joke. I also had a lot of fun with God Knows because I got to use auto tune and felt like Cher.
What is the best thing about your fans?
Hanni: I’d say they’re just such a nice bunch. We always want our gigs to feel happy and joyful and I think that appeals to people who are nice.
How do you feel about your upcoming tour?
Clara: Very excited. It’s our longest headlining tour to date and we’re playing bigger venues than we’ve ever played. We have a lot of new material which is very exciting.
Hanni: There’s been so much build up to this album so I’m ready to just blow off some steam and enjoy playing the songs live.
What does your tour preparation entail?
Hanni: A lot of last-minute, stress, laundry and I buy a lot of supplements.
Clara: I always buy more drumsticks. Panic buying is a big part of tour preparation.
What can people expect from this tour?
Hanni: They can expect to have a very fun time. We do not take ourselves seriously I think this tour will push the limits of how not-seriously we can take ourselves.
What is on your Tour Rider?
Hanni: Cheese strings and Lucozade.
Clara: Grapes are a great little snack. We always ask for a surprise chocolate bar too. We always get chocolate, but we haven’t been truly surprised yet.
Stream Ride Or Die by ARXX here, and visit arxxband.com for details about their upcoming tour.
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