Win Butler Says Arcade Fire’s New Album is a Mash-Up Of ‘Studio 54 and Haitian Voodoo Music’
In the interview, the usually tight-lipped Butler shared some key facts about the double album which he said is a “mash-up of Studio 54 and Haitian Voodoo music.”
He told Lowe the band recorded “50 or 60 songs” before refining the final tracklist, which features 13 songs total. The album is longer than their GRAMMY-winning album, The Suburbs, with more than a few songs clocking in at 7 minutes, including the album’s first single “Reflektor.”
Butler said the band started making the album in Jamaica, where they spent a month working with Marcus Dravs, who has helped produce Arcade Fire’s previous two albums, 2007’s Neon Bible and 2010’s The Suburbs.
They hooked up with James Murphy in New York. Butler said working with the former LCD Soundsystem leader was something they had wanted to do for years but their schedules never quite lined up. This time around around Arcade Fire wanted to focus on building up the rhythm and percussion section, something Murphy is pretty good at. “If you get James tapping his foot,” Butler said. “You’re on the right track.”
The album’s rhythmic focus was inspired by the drummers of Haiti, where Butler’s wife and fellow bandmate, Regine Chassagne is from. He explained that they played with Haitian Congo players on Relflektor, who helped them construct the “underlying voodoo rhythms” on the album. Butler also said that the addition of two Haitian percussionists–who are joining Arcade Fire on tour–has helped up their drummer Jeremy Gara’s game.
“Jeremy has never drummed better,” he said, calling it “really magical.” “The grooves are really deep. These conga beats are the language in Haiti. They’re how people communicate.”
Butler said that even though the album is different than their last, he’s not worried about leaving fans disappointed with their new dance-oriented release. In 2013, he said, you’re allowed to like the Sex Pistols and ABBA and ’90s hip-hop. So for an artist it’s fun to experiment with different styles.
“We’re at the point in our lives, career, where we’ve accomplished a lot,” Butler said. “When it comes down to the music, we’re doing things we haven’t done before. It’s really a joyful time.”