With songs that sound like the hits of a band that have been going twice as long, Visions of Trees' ambient r’n’b pulse lingers beneath their electronic compositions. They're creating their own universe in the myriad depths of eclecticism, mixing visuals and vibe into uplifting dance music. In between covering Ariel Pink, remixing oOoOO, and listening to TLC, their sound branches are greater than the sum of the chillwave flu that's infiltrated journalistic dialects. No matter – you've already heard from Vision of Tree in this magazine once, but it's been a while, so we sidled up for another chat.
TLC are in your top friends on Myspace. Are they a big influence?
Joni: Yeah, pretty much. Lisa Left Eye, gotta pour one for the homies. We like all that pop and r’n’b music and stuff like that.
So, the people who coined the term chillwave must be very pleased with themselves. Do you align yourselves with that genre or has it been put on you?
Sara: We’re just doing what we’re doing and enjoying it. I supposed the earlier stuff we had was more ambient and chilled out but it was never like ‘Oh let’s be chillwave’- never, ever like that. I guess we did a lot of gigs with bands associated with that scene like Memory Tapes and Neon Indian. I suppose when people see our name on the poster the associate us with that kind of band.
You also DJ. What do you play to get the dancefloor moving? Is the remixing you've done really different from creating your own music?
Joni: I play a lot of like 90s R’n’B and hip hop, some dancier stuff. It’s different from the remixing; we put our own stamp on that. Every track is different so you have to find the different kind of vibes. We often make the songs a bit more electronic, kind of like our sound. It’s not a case of being easier or harder, just different.
Your new press shots look amazing, like a strange moon landscape. What was it like shooting?
Sara: It was amazing! There were these massive satellites which were insane; they looked like they’d been dropped from outer space. But it was just so cold, so very cold in the day. The photographer pictures are like art and we wanted to have something like that, rather than the blog standard ‘in front of a brick wall’ band photo. We wanted something a bit special. We were scouting for a really cool location and by magic found that one. We had to trek through all these fields to get there because no one uses it any more!
How do you translate your music live?
Sara: The set up is pretty hands on for Joni, he has all the laptops and stuff and I have my synth. We try and make it like a continuous sound tunnel.
Joni: We’ve just introduced visuals as well into the set and we have an amazing guy doing them. They’re going to be a big part of what we do, because there’s just the two of us and no drummer going crazy in the background then I think the visuals will bring a totally new element to the live shows.
What kind of visual influences do you have?
Joni: When we’re putting together our visual references and stuff we’ve been looking at people like David Lynch. The everyday with the surreal at the same time.
You’ve not released anything in England yet, where did you go to first in the world?
Sara: We released our first stuff in America, which seems strange when it’s not been picked up on as much over here. It’s not like a worldwide thing, I suppose it’s hard to tell whose listening to you where. We want to concentrate on getting stuff in the UK – but we’re putting some gigs together for next year in the US, hopefully we will play SXSW!
Do you ever Google yourselves?
Sara: No, not really! There was a really awful thing about us when we first started which said I was like a rubbish Lisa from Steps [the 90s UK pop band].
Better than being compared to ‘H’!
Sara: I don’t want to get into the Steps debate and tread on anyone’s toes! But yeah, that seemed like a sign to never, ever look at yourself on Twitter…
Joni: I think it’s hard as well reading reviews and stuff because they’ll say stuff like ‘Yeah they did this and it’s shit’ so you think ‘Well, I’ll never do that again then.’ But at the end of the day that’s one opinion and you shouldn’t be so influenced by it.
There seems to be that annoying thing in music now where only reality show contestants can break into the mainstream music. Do you want to be big?
Joni: I think we’d love to rate in the charts! What we do is pop music at the end of the day. I don’t see why not, pop music can have its dark side.