On Tour With: Amber Arcades

On Tour With: Amber Arcades

Amber Arcades dropped their EP, Cannonball, in June — complete with a gorgeous cover of Nick Drake’s classic 1972 track “Which Will.” And, as can be expected, they’ve been playing more than a few dates on the road in support.

The band, the project of whip-smart Dutch singer Annelotte de Graaf (who also has bachelor’s and master’s law degrees), formed after de Graaf spent years squirreling away money to record an album, her first paychecks courtesy of a teenage grocery store gig. That money led to her debut LP, Fading Lines, and, later a partnership with Heavenly Recordings.

TIDAL caught up with de Graaf on the road at Brooklyn’s 2017 Northside Festival to find out a bit more about what it’s like to go on tour with Amber Arcades.

On pre-tour rituals… The day before tour I can’t do anything because in my head I’m already on tour or something. I spend five minutes packing my bag and I’m just like, ‘Yeah, OK, let’s go.’ And then I have to wait a whole day so then I’m just sitting on my couch waiting, pretty much. I just spend that time packing my bags, washing my hair. Because who knows when will be the next time when I get to wash it?

On road music… I’m just really obsessed about it. I always start with the perfect soundscape for the landscape. So I have different playlists based on what time of day it is — like if it’s night, or morning, or midday, or if it’s in the city, or somewhere in an open field, or the countryside. I have one called ‘Nighttime Driving.’ It’s a kind of shoegazy thing.

On the worst sleeping arrangement… This one time we were on tour in the States and we ended up at some motel that had blood stains on the wall, which was really creepy. It was kind of hidden under a table, but it wasn’t hidden well. You could see it. So that was kind of scary.

Also one time, we slept with a friend in Brighton, and it was a really small room. But we couldn’t get to the bathroom because then we had to go through our hosts’ bedroom and they were sleeping. So we couldn’t get to the bathroom at night and we had all drank quite a lot of beer, so we did have to pee the whole night. But it was like one hundred meters from the beach, so if we had to pee we just walked out to the beach, to pee in the sea and then walk back to bed.

On being productive on the road… There’s no way. You can’t be productive on tour. We tried. One time we tried doing an Italian course. We found this tape in the car for Italian lessons, so we listened to that for a couple of days. But most of the time, it’s the only time where I can do nothing, just watch a movie or read a book. I feel like it’s okay to relax and not be productive.

On tour games… We have one where you have to guess [who the player is pretending to be]. It has to be something related to tour. On the ride home, we recount the last couple of weeks and pretend to be something we saw — it can be anything: a person, an animal, a food that you ate, an object that you saw. Sometimes it gets pretty abstract.

Also, we were touring the States last September, and they have a lot of toll roads here; we don’t really have those where we live. [On tour, we learned about a game called] Toll Touching. So the challenge is to touch the person at the tollbooth as many times as possible during one transaction. I think I’m the record-holder with, like, twenty or something.

(Photo credit: Nick Helderman)

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