With contagious energy and powerful direction, Olivia Merilahti and Dan Levy always favour risk-taking. Changing radically with precision, Shake, Shook, Shaken is the third studio album by The Dø, taking a futuristic turn in their writings and experimenting with synthetic sounds.
Banning all acoustic instruments, the Franco-Finnish duo involved themselves amongst dance, minimalism and pop aesthetics in order to make the change their own. With this, Shake, Shook, Shaken not only responds to the experimentation and freedom held by The Dø, but confirms their innovation as ever-evolving musicians. With contagious electronic beats, bold lyrics and fragmented hooks supporting their new sound, we asked Olivia a few questions about Shake, Shook, Shaken and the influences surrounding the record.
Shake, Shook, Shaken deliberately removes acoustic instruments to focus on synthetic sounds. Was this ethic of making music challenging and did you learn anything from the process?
It was a challenge we enjoyed embracing. We love doing things we’ve never done before and that was our way to reinvent our sound, to push forward our musical abilities, to avoid mechanisms.
The album has a contagious pop aesthetic that combines delicate vocals and triumphant electronic beats. Did you want to create a record people could dance to?
It wasn’t the intention because we knew we’re not that kind of band, the idea was rather to create songs with less breaks, with a constant beat, so that you can headbang a little. Mid-tempo is more natural for my melodies, so we’re closer to the hip-hop movement rather than to dance music.
Your track ‘Like My Wounds’ is very poetic and chiptune. When writing songs, do lyrics or sounds control the tone of the track?
Lyrics are obviously part of the process, sometimes I’m just really seduced by the images contained in the lines and the music of the words. It’s funny how some weird lines make sense to both of us, though sometimes Dan has a totally different interpretation of the lyrics than me.
I read that you’re very fascinated in mainstream music icons like Kanye West, Die Antwoord and Beyoncé. What do you appreciate about their production and influence?
Kanye West is a fascinating creative character, it’s amazing how curious and innovative he remains despite his popularity. No other artist of his level brings so much new sounds and ideas into music, and it’s not only hip hop, it pervades all other genres. Beyoncé‘s latest album isn’t as inventive and original but it’s still pretty uncompromising. Die Antwoord is an indie band no matter what music they do, they’re free and follow their own rules, make their own videos- it’s inspiring. I don’t consider them mainstream, even though they’re big now.
Artistic openness and innovation appear extremely important to the record and to you both. Have you discovered your music style or are you constantly challenging your own expectations?
I think we’re kind of restless, we will keep challenging ourselves for fear of boredom. We’re excited to make music in a new way, our job gives us that opportunity, so it would be a shame not to grab it.
The sound space of the album is constantly shifting between strengths, emotions and lyrical fascinations. Was there any standout artistic influence when producing ‘Shake, Shook, Shaken?’
James Bond and actions films, manga, the triumphant side in Queen‘s music, speedboat videos on youtube, Twin Peaks. We wanted energy and poetry.
The balance between chaos and life seem very influential on your songwriting. Did you find new musical freedom in producing ‘Shake, Shook, Shaken?’
We’ve always been attached to our freedom in The Dø, and we’re lucky since we’ve been able to do whatever we wanted since the beginning, as opposed to when we worked on soundtracks. The main difference was that we recorded a lot of midi-instruments, and that it’s much quicker than recording actual instruments, placing the mics, plugging everything. So the recording process was quite quick, but the mixing was a crucial step and took longer than on previous albums.
Overall, your record is visceral and open to a lot of different listeners. When people listen to the record, what kind of experience or feeling do you want them to take away from it?
I love to listen to an album, or watch a movie, or see a exhibition that makes me want to go home and write or compose or paint. If our album can encourage creativity, I couldn’t be happier.
What’s coming up for The Dø in 2015?
Planes, highways, soundchecks, good food, bad food, good shows, bad shows and now ‘Despair, Hangover & Ecstasy.’
Shake, Shook, Shaken is out now via Cartell Music. You can watch their new video for single ‘Despair, Hangover & Ecstasy’ below: