“We wanted to challenge ourselves and prove we could do something bigger”, says TTRRUUCES’ Natalie Findlay revealing why they opted to tackle a rock opera for their debut album. “It became bigger than us”.
TTRRUUCES’ outstanding self-titled record is one of the most ambitious albums of 2020 it thrusts you into the world of leading characters Sadie (Sad Girl) and Syd (Lost Boy).
It’s a dream-like adventure concocted from the creative minds of Natalie Findlay and Jules Apollinaire, the Anglo-French duo behind TTRRUUCES.
We follow a disenchanted Sadie as she leaves home in search for a new experimental new blue substance called TTRRUUCES, which promises to offer true happiness to those who find it.
At a local disco she meets outsider Syd, who is in search of his lost lust for life. Together they experiment with the sought after TTRRUUCES pill, forcing them down the abyss of a bad trip before flourishing into a life-affirming journey of spiritual awakening.
We don’t want to give too much away but TTRRUUCES’ debut is an ambitious, 11-track wonder – a tour de force of imaginative storytelling; ushering the listener into a mind-bending trip backed by sonically huge musicianship that tears up the idea of genres altogether.
Its opener Sad Girl evokes memories of White Album-era Beatles and 60s baroque pop, The DISCO does exactly what it says on the tine with its funk-infused basslines, Nile Rodgers-esque guitar hooks, and searing strings, while I’m Alive is one of the biggest floor-fillers of the year.
Eager listeners may also remember the latter as a stand out addition to FIFA 20’s soundtrack – its inclusion made before the true identities of the then enigmatic TTRRUUCES were revealed.
The spaced-out adventure was written by Natalie and Jules across eight months at a small house in Brittany as they devoured inspiration from obscure 1960s commercials, cartoon music, Tim Burton movies and Iggy Pop, before it was mixed in London by Alan Moulder – who’s worked with Arctic Monkeys, Foals and The Killers – and mastered by French engineering maestro Chab.
Strap yourselves in, TTRRUUCES is a modern day, psychedelic odyssey you’ll never forget. Daily Star Online’s Rory McKeown caught up with Natalie and Jules to talk about TTRRUUCES’ creation, its influences, the story of Sadie and Syd, and what’s next for one of 2020’s breakthrough acts.
Hi TTRRUUCES. How’s lockdown been for you? Have you been able to work on anything?
Natalie Findlay: “It’s been pretty chilled. We knew couldn’t do anymore live shows so we’ve done the little lockdown videos and learned how to video edit. We’ve been trying to keep busy with bits and bobs.”
Jules Apollinaire: “Like for everyone, the first two weeks were super weird. We should’ve been shooting the I’m Alive video in Los Angeles but it was cancelled. It’s almost like the music aligned pretty well for it. I’m Alive is dropping when people are starting to go out again. TTRRUUCES definitely kept us going in lockdown.”
Jules: “We did the album cover, videos. We’ve done quite a lot!”
For an emerging act like yourselves, how is it to navigate a situation like this that’s so unheard of?
Jules: “Everyone adapts at every level. You adapt, teachers adapt, students adapt. For us it was that we had all those shows planned in the summer but you don’t want to beat yourself up with ‘what ifs’. There’s so much we can do especially with the internet nowadays.
“Before lockdown we were a mysterious band, you didn’t know who was part of it.”
Natalie: “If this situation had happened before everyone had a mobile phone, in the 80s or the 90s, that really would have changed music forever. Now we’re connected enough to share things.”
Jules: “We felt massive support from our fans. The whole of TTRRUUCES social became very interactive in lockdown. To the point when it was obvious for us not to do anything. Our idea was not to tour too much but to make the shows special immersive experiences. In that manner, it was really about adapting. The animation video for I’m Alive, we love it. We wouldn’t change it but that wasn’t originally the plan.”
How did the whole TTRRUUCES project form?
Natalie: “We met six years ago. We were working on music together and working for different projects. We said one day we would have to form our own thing as a duo but it would have to be something really special, something that no one else is doing.
“It took us a long while to realise that we wanted to do a rock opera. What’s the craziest thing we could do?”
Jules: “We had always written songs together. At some point we needed a structure and a platform to write to. We randomly wrote the song Sad Girl. That’s how we started.
“We’re living together, writing songs, and then Sad Girl came. That was unlike anything we’d done. It was very George Martin, 60s vocal harmonies. At the same time I had written TTRRUUCES on my phone. I was playing with letters. We thought ‘that’s a sick looking name!’ and then something special happened.
“We thought it would be amazing to throw the character of Sad Girl into an album and it would be about her story. A week later we wrote the song TTRRUUCES. We had the idea of a fictional drug she would try and then naturally she needed a partner to do that with. We took longer to figure out the Lost Boy.”
Natalie: “The riff to the Lost Boy came and it’s so cool. The character has to be as cool as that riff.”
Jules: “We imagine him in a leather jacket, super cocky, and a party animal but a lost soul as well. Those three things came in two weeks. That was the foundation.”
Natalie: “We had a beginning and a middle but it took us a long time to get to the end. The narrative would drive the songwriting. Some of the songs were amazing but it didn’t fit the narrative so we had to remove them.”
For such an ambitious record, were you fazed at all taking on an album with a narrative from start to finish?
Natalie: “We’ve been songwriters a long time before we had that idea. For years, when you’ve been writing music on a song by song basis it was a good thing for us as songwriters to do a whole album that follows a narrative.
“We wanted to challenge ourselves and prove we could do something bigger. It became bigger than us.”
Jules: “It was so exciting. It was the excitement of knowing no one is doing this. We could see it. Sad Girl was staying with us and Lost Boy was growing. I think TRRUUCES has got this power that if you’re talking about it to someone, it wakes them up. We love people having their own interpretations.”
Were you inspired by anything when writing the album?
Jules: “The first idea was so big that there was no genre limitation.”
Natalie: “We were listening to Iggy Pop for a week and then would only listen to Chic and disco music.”
Jules: “There was a time where we’d only listen to 1920s jazz and cartoon music.”
Natalie: “We spent 17 hours on YouTube to try and find weird samples of people saying the word ‘hot’ so we could put it in a song!”
Jules: “Songs like Bad Kids, it has that magical sound at the end which is lots of old samples and radio crackles. The inspiration of that wasn’t even music. It was commercials from the 60s. There was a lot of inspiration from movies.”
Natalie: “Yeah, like Tim Burton movies. Looking at the character Sally in the Nightmare Before Christmas. There is so much of Sad Girl that I can see in that character. It was how can we transfer something like that into ours? There was lots of weird inspiration.”
Because you’ve written this narrative, do you think you’re a part of them as well now?
Natalie: “For sure, there’s some of me in the Sad Girl and the Lost Boy. We are them, and they are us. But never consciously when were are writing. Once we finished the album we were looking back and I’d be like ‘I lived like that or I felt like that’ and I didn’t know it when I was putting it into the song. You only realise in hindsight how much you’ve put in.”
Jules: “When you realise you’ve put a bit of yourself in the characters and you watch them grow on their own. The Sad Girl took a massive meaning when we met the real life Sad Girl. When we found the human face for her, we knew she had to be the Sad Girl. We hung out with her every week for a month before lockdown.
“Now in our head it’s not the same Sad Girl than before we met her. They take a life of their own and you can’t control them.”
Are you fans of the concept album in general? Or albums that tell a story from start to finish?
Jules: “We went to dig into other rock operas as we didn’t have reference of them before. The concept album for me is the Histoire de Melody Nelson by Serge Gainsbourg. This one is a concept album because he has a character and he follows her through different songs.
“He doesn’t have a clear narrative but he does have that aspect of character developing in many songs. That was one we liked.
“The Beatles have done concept albums, kind of, but not following narrative. We knew there were other albums out there like that but I don’t think they were inspiration for us.”
What do you hope listeners will take from the album?
Jules: “It’s an experience that you can immerse yourself in. I hope the listeners will be able to do that.”
Natalie: “I want people to feel like they’re not just sitting down listening to music. Like when you sit down to watch a movie or read a book. You actually go through something.
“At the end you feel like you’ve been through a journey.
“No one listens to albums anymore. People only listen to playlists or songs randomly. I wanted to give someone the opportunity to sit and have a story told to them.”
Jules: “Hopefully in around November next year, we will release the movie. The movie will be the collection of every single video we’ve added. It will be a 50 minute piece of one film you’ll be able to watch.
“Already there’s enough out there for people to play along and go through the experience of the record. I love the fact that some people will resonate with just a couple of songs and will love the band for that and not go through the full journey. There’s enough out there for people to take a full experience out of this record.”
Natalie: “What we would love to do is have an interactive experience. Like having a warehouse and have a room for every song. The Sad Girl would come and cry on you.”
Do you enjoy the creative aspect of the music video? Is it something you’ve always been fans of?
Natalie: “We love doing music videos but we used to hate doing them. When you’re doing something on such a bigger scale, you can really think about the details and the Easter Eggs, even to the characters having the same outfit on.
“We controlled every single thing to the point where I feel sorry for some of the directors we worked with!”
Jules: “It was all work for them but they loved it and all played along.”
When you look back on when you’re formulating this idea to what it’s grown into, are you blown away by what you’ve produced?
Jules: “It’s already bigger than us. The original idea was between us but now it’s a band, it’s a team.”
Natalie: “I feel like it was a seed and now it’s a flower.”
Jules: “We’re in the middle of it. The TTRRUUCES story keeps going on. Every success is great and we’ll ride the wave to see how it goes and see how the world reacts to the album.”
What is your ultimate goal?
Natalie: “To be able to do our full on interactive album experience for people in person – that immersive experience. I really want to bring that to fans. To be able to play live at a huge stage like Glastonbury and have all the visuals.”
Jules: “Because we’ve only done five gigs, we need to get out on the road. We will take our time, and see when it starts again, but that’s the long term prospect we really want to grow. And start writing the second one, that’s scary and exciting.
Natalie: “I really want to get writing and see what the f*** we’re going to do!”
TTRRUUCES’ self-titled debut album is out now via AllPoints