San Cisco: “You can go deeper, you can go harder, and just keep pushing… unless it’s shit”
San Cisco are back and in a way that we’ve never seen them before. Their fourth studio album, Between You and Me, stands as a catalyst for the Fremantle trio, compiling two years worth of music and experience into a San Cisco-tinted photo album. The record sees them burn a vignette around the sickly sweet indie-pop of their early albums, maintaining their quintessential flair and heartfelt lyricism but allowing their sound to mellow. In the most brazen terms, Between You and Me is the pino grigio, following from the sparkling rosé of The Water.
Aesthetically, the album echoes in old Hollywood glamour. From the soft contrasts of their album cover, to the silky, twilight textures of their new material, the album is an opus of indie-pop: a rich and complex product, ten years in the making.
It’s refined, sophisticated, but hasn’t lost any of its charm, the band made sure of it. With the record delivering only four new tracks out of a total of 11, Between You and Me’s perfect blend of sweet, punchy indie-pop and deeper melodies provides the paramount San Cisco experience.
JORDI: Josh is going to shave his head today.
JOSH:Tackling the big issues here.
HAPPY:Any particular reason?
JOSH: Nah, this friend of mine, he cuts hair and he’s just like, please let me just shave it all off. I’m sure this is going to change my life somehow.
HAPPY: I got very tempted during iso but I chickened out. I’m not ballsy enough.
JOSH: I know, I’m not ballsy enough either. I’m getting pressured into it.
JORDI: What? It was your idea! And then you just tried to…
SCARLETT: [Enters Zoom call] Hey!
HAPPY:Hey, how are you?
JORDI:Oi Scarlett, do you think Josh should shave his head?
SCARLETT:Uh, yeah. Why not?
JOSH: I think I’m gonna be doing a buzz, what’s your professional opinion?
SCARLETT:Yeah, why not? You’ve never done it before.
HAPPY: Congrats on the record, guys.
HAPPY: It feels like a bit of a defining moment, Between You and Me. Could you walk us through how the album came about?
JOSH:It’s been a long time.
JORDI:Yeah, and a lot of the songs… like, I wrote Flaws five years ago.
JORDI:And yeah, it’s been quite a long process and I don’t know, for me, it feels like the right process for a record. It happened a lot more naturally than The Water did.
SCARLETT:Yeah, it was less rushed and I think we definitely took our time perfecting it, which we haven’t really done on other albums. We’ve just kind of locked ourselves in the studio and worked from demos and then just finished it really quickly. But this time, we took our time.
HAPPY: Yeah. It must be great to have it fully completed and ready to go then.
JORDI:Yeah, it’s been ready to go for ages though.
SCARLETT:We were gonna release it last year and then our record label wanted us to do this really drawn out release plan with lots of singles and video clips. Luckily, we took that extra time because that meant we could finish On The Line and another song, Shine, because they almost didn’t make the record. So, it was good that we had more time to kind of perfect things.
HAPPY:Is that where the EP fits in, because you wanted to do a longer release?
SCARLETT:Yeah, it was all part of that lengthy release plan.
HAPPY:Sweet as. I know that Messages has become a bit of an anti-ghosting anthem for some people. Has the reception, so far, been what you expected it to be?
SCARLETT:I think so. I mean, I think the video clip went down really well. I haven’t really, I mean, I’ve gotten on the comments section of the YouTube video, but I haven’t really had… and I guess on our Instagram it got a pretty good response. And it’s probably the poppiest song on the album.
JORDI:It’s really hard to gauge, I think, without touring. We’re usually like going and playing the songs live, that’s how I find it to be the most… you get an idea of how people have received it. But because we aren’t able to do that, it’s a little bit weird. But yeah, I’ve been pretty stoked with how all the singles have been received.
JOSH:Also through Spotify stats.
JORDI:Yeah, Spotify stats. That’s what I keep an eye on…
JOSH:…looking over it during these times.
JORDI:[Laughs] Yeah, you’re looking at Spotify HQ for San Cisco.
HAPPY:[Laughs] When I Dream has become one of your biggest singles that you’ve released yet, which is pretty hectic!
JORDI: Yeah, it is. We were talking in an interview yesterday about it, cause, to the public, When I Dream’s one of the oldest songs on the record. But I think it has a real place on the record because that was kind of the gateway to this record and the sound of this record. It’s quite different, even though all the songs on Between You and Me are so varying and different, to me, they all feel like they’re from that place that When I Dream is from.
HAPPY:Speaking of your change in sound, I know for a lot of artists, they feel like they have a bit more freedom in the studio the longer that they’ve been releasing music for. Do you guys feel that way on your fourth album?
SCARLETT:Yeah, definitely. I don’t think we’re bound by one genre. And also, we always kind of said to ourselves that we wanted to have songs on the album that we would listen to and that we really love. So, we weren’t so dead set on making bangers, it was more like making music that we connect to. I think if you connect to it, then your fans will connect to it too.
JORDI:I think that was something, and even with the longer songwriting process, I was very, very keen to write a bunch of songs that I felt, lyrically, very strong about, instead of trying to write the poppiest thing I could. It felt good to sort of come back to more of what I wanted to say, than what I thought people wanted to hear.
HAPPY: Do you feel that there’s a particular concept or meaning that comes out of the album that you tried to put in there?
JORDI: Um, not hugely. It’s just all about all the different sorts of relationships and all the different kinds.
JORDI: Yeah, friendships, romantic relationships. All in there.
SCARLETT: Relationships in tatters.
JORDI: Yeah [laughs].
SCARLETT: Loss and love.
JORDI:And I think, maybe I’m a bit too close to it and know too much about it to say what the storyline is, but I reckon someone listening to it could come up with a pretty good story.
SCARLETT: Jordi had the album title for it, when we started writing the album, we knew it was going to be called Between You and Me, and I think that kind of encapsulates all the themes and also the fact that it’s like the three of us now. It’s always been the three of us in the studio, but we actually wanted to celebrate that on the album cover and…
JOSH:Bring it to life.
HAPPY:You said that it’s one of your most collaborative projects that you’ve done since your debut, right?
EVERYONE: Yeah, definitely.
HAPPY:Did that set the writing process apart in any way to your past releases?
SCARLETT:Yeah. Each album, I guess the last few albums have been quite collaborative, but I guess this the most invested I’ve been in the songwriting, the production, and sound of the album. And I guess I sing a bit more on it. But yeah, I guess it has always been a bit collaborative, but mainly Jordi’s writing lyrics and Josh will come up with riffs and stuff. But yeah, I think when we’re in the studio we’re all sort of pitching in. It’s like a big brainstorm session most of the time, with our producer
HAPPY:Yeah, after that comment about how it was one of your most collaborative or inclusive projects you’ve done yet, yet you’re dealing with loss and letting go, I found that really interesting. A nice little juxtaposition you got going there.
HAPPY:That’s exactly what you want at the end of a record.
SCARLETT: I think you need a bit of that tension when you’re making an album.
JORDI:It’s a passionate thing.
JOSH:It comes from a place of passion.
JORDI: Yeah, it’s our passion project, this one.
HAPPY:Has the whole process of writing and recording the album taught you anything or brought you any clarity on the themes you’ve explored on the record?
JORDI: It taught me a lot of things.
JOSH:Well, what things were they Jordi?
JORDI: Well, ah…
JORDI:Be vulnerable, okay… oh, fuck. Let me think…
SCARLETT:… if something’s not working, it’s okay to let go and then move on to the next thing.
JORDI:There is life after love [laughs].
JOSH:We do believe in life after love.
JORDI: Yeah, it’s gonna be okay. I think with this record, I just learn again how hard things can be and you can make it happen. I find in life, you go through points and you’re just like, this is fucked. As if it’s this hard dealing with this or this anxious. There’s obviously also times when you have these moments in songwriting, or us as a band, making something, and you’re just like, this is why I make music. There is no better feeling than pieces falling together and being the way it is and creating something you’re so proud of. But juxtaposed to that, there are times when you’re like, as if I’m a fucking musician.
SCARLETT: Yeah and you feel so stuck. I think the writer’s block is real, there are days in the studio where you just can’t come up with anything. This is my job, I’m meant to be really good at this and I think of a word or can’t get a take right.
JORDI: Yeah. And you’re just like, I find you have these really hard times and you can’t even figure out how you could possibly get to the other side of it. And then you just learn how to sort of deal with it and then you’re fine. It teaches you that you can carry heavier stuff and you can go harder and it’s just like constant upgrades. I think that’s probably what this record did for me. You can go deeper, you can go harder, and you just keep pushing. Unless it’s shit.
SCARLETT: And then I’ll tell you to stop it.
JORDI:[Laughs] Stop that, that’s enough.
HAPPY: Congrats on the album again and thank you guys so much for the chat.
EVERYONE: Thank you.
Between You and Me is available on all streaming platforms. Grab your copy here.