Arc Iris have certainly not been strangers to The City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection in recent years, and we’re quite thankful for that… In Fall of 2016 the Providence-based trio played Boot & Saddle, touring behind their sophomore LP, Moon Saloon, which I characterized as, “A quirkily poignant postmodern electro cabaret,” and, “The best dream pop album since The Bird and the Bee’s debut.” And last summer they returned to B&S while on tour with their re-imagining of Joni Mitchell’s Blue. Well, Arc Iris are about to kick off a pretty huge tour opening for Kimbra and are preparing to play their biggest Philly show yet when they kick things off for the art pop chanteuse next Wednesday, January 31st, at Union Transfer. In addition, they’re preparing to release Foggy Lullaby – Arc Iris Reimagines Joni Mitchell’s ‘Blue.’ I recently got a chance to catch up with Arc Iris founder, vocalist, guitarist, and mainperson Jocie Adams (formerly of The Low Anthem), who tells me that, in addition to Kimbra’s mega tour and a studio version of their take on Blue, there is a ton of new Arc Iris music well in the works that you can expect to hear in the very near future.
Izzy Cihak: So, Moon Saloon has been out for about a year and a half now. What have been some of the highlights of the band since it dropped?
Jocie Adams: Our shows with Juana Molina, especially the one in NYC, were a definite highlight for me. It was empowering to see a strong woman on stage, defying stereotypes without any extra dressings, and musically crushing everyone to smithereens. Of course, another huge pull for me are her band, Odin and Diego. It is exciting to see another band who works together so intensely.
Izzy: After all this time, do you currently have a favorite track off of Moon Saloon? Is there one (or more) that’s still extra super fun to play every night?
Jocie: I think my favorite tracks off of Moon Saloon are ones we don’t typically play live – “Lilly” and “Moon Saloon.” There is no good reason that we haven’t been playing them, except that new music has filled similar feelings live and we have naturally gravitated towards the new material, which we look very much forward to sharing with everyone in 2018.
Izzy: What can be expected of your live show when you’re supporting Kimbra? I think this might be your biggest Philadelphia date yet.
Jocie: We will be performing a lot of new material in advance of the release of our third record, so you can look forward to getting a glimpse into future Arc Iris records. We will put on as multi-dimensional of a show as we can, without taking up more space than is polite. We have been working hard this month to figure out what songs and production we will be able to share.
Izzy: And are you excited to share the stage with Kimbra for so many nights? Were you previously fans of hers? I definitely dig her as well.
Jocie: Oh yes! Kimbra is not only an amazing singer but she is incredibly hard working when it comes to both writing and arranging. I look forward to seeing her perform night after night.
Izzy: I really love your recent video for “Long Time Coming,” featuring Big Nazo. How did that come about?
Jocie: Isn’t that video special? Our wonderful and talented friends in Providence created that video as a gift to the world. I recommend you look up all of their work: Julia Liu, Keith Hayward and BIG NAZO. They made the video in Providence, mostly in our gorgeous Roger Williams Park.
Izzy: I just saw that you’re releasing a recording of your re-imagining of Joni Mitchell’s Blue. What can be expected of it? Is it basically a studio take on the show you brought to the road last summer?
Jocie: Yes, it is exactly a studio take on the show we brought on the road last summer! For those who didn’t catch the show, we did a complete re-imagining of Joni Mitchell’s album Blue. Expect to be surprised by what you hear and feel free to feel divided. What we created is bold and polarizing, which I suppose is far superior to nice and fine for everyone. Have a listen and form your opinions about what we did and feel free to share them with us. We have found the whole process to be very interesting. It was magical performing those songs night after night and a terrific learning experience for us as a band.
Izzy: The last time we spoke you said that you really enjoy the progression of Arc Iris and that you really hate the idea of remaining stagnant, so I’m curious what kinds of things have been inspiring you most lately, whether they be musical or otherwise?
Jocie: Oh, I think, like the rest of us, the political climate has taken hold of me rather firmly and forced me to respond. The art that we have been producing is very tied to our current administration. We have one finished record and another in process – the one in process is much more explicit in its warnings about the possible future we may be headed towards. The story is written with some lightheartedness and hope but, in many ways, does tap more into a witty nihilism that I tend to leave alone in the writing process. The climate seems to be begging for more absurdism to deal with realism, though, so in that way it is heartfelt and hopeful to present this material. We will also be performing a couple of tunes off of that record on this tour.
Izzy: And finally, what’s next for you? How do you plan to spend 2018 after the Kimbra dates wrap, in addition to the release of Foggy Lullaby? What are you most excited for in 2018?
Jocie: We plan to release a lot of music this year! So, keep your eyes and ears on our socials or however you tend to follow music! We couldn’t be more excited to unveil our third record to the world, so that is definitely the biggest highlight to look forward to.