Electropop duo Maria Lindén and Fredrik Balck of I Break Horses have been making a scene since 2011, when they appeared with their misty debut album Hearts. Their prowess and years of hard work landed them a spot on label Bella Union, as well as paying gigs opening for bands like M83, and top rankings on music aggregators like The Hype Machine. Their icier, sophomore release earlier this year, Chiaroscuro, emblemized them as a shoegaze entity and cued the evolution of their breakout sound.
Chiaroscuro is rife with experimental synths, like in the intro of “Denial”, where the listener is washed over with unexpected confidence gone awry; and in “Ascension” where a looming sound complements a fidgety opening backdrop. The harmonies on Chiaroscuro‘s songs are notable too; most slip in and out of consonance, and stay intriguing enough that they linger like earworms, imperfectly inescapable.
Also inescapable was the band from our curiosity. Lindén found some time to sit down with us before I Break Horses’ May 2nd performance at The Independent in San Francisco. We asked her about the band’s foggy album, herself, and the origin of I Break Horses. Her mysterious answers don’t reveal much.
When did you meet Fredrik? What is his role in I Break Horses?
We met online discussing our hypochondria issues in a forum. We write the lyrics together and Fredrik is the drummer.
Contrast your writing processes for Chiaroscuro and Hearts for us.
Chiaruscuro went much faster. With Hearts, I started off creating soundscapes, and the songs developed from them. It was quite a long process! With the new album I wrote all the songs on piano first.
Have you worked with David Burkhart on each of your music videos? They seem to be fixated on found footage? Where is it all from?
You’d have to ask David where he finds everything! He’s so good at making it all fit to the music.
Track number five, “Berceuse”, seems more syncopated and complex. Too dark to be a simple lullaby.
On that note, do you have any classical inspirations?
Yes, from Bach to modern composers like Nils Frahm.
Which song in your past discography do you most identify with?
What was a memorable tour moment with Sigur Rós?
The London show at Wembley Arena was the biggest show we’ve done and also the best. I really enjoyed it. And they were such lovely people there!
What road music are you currently playing?
We haven’t actually started the tour yet, but I’m listening to Nils Frahm a lot right now.
What type of cuisine could you live without?