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Daughter's Elena Tonra sheds light on her darkness

The U.K. alt-folk trio's sophomore album "Not to Disappear" drops Friday.
You think you don't know Daughter, but you've probably already heard them.The ambient alt-folk triohas provided the broodingly bleak soundtrack for many-a-TV drama ( "Grey's Anatomy," "Skins," "The Originals"), and will drop their sophomore album, "Not To Disappear," on Friday. The London-based trio will then embark on a North American tour this spring to support the release this spring — with stops in Somerville and Philadelphia.
We caught up with 26-year-oldlead singer Elena Tonraduring a break from rehearsal with her bandmates Igor Haefeli and Remi Aguilella.
How does the art on the cover of "Not to Disappear" tie into the theme of the album?
It’s a painting by Sara Shore, an artist from Brighton [in the UK]. Igor was looking through an art catalog, came across her work and loved it. It was just so peaceful and really fit with how the album sounds.
What do you think drives the themes in your music? I hear plenty of bleakness, but some underlying hope, too.
I think so. I hopefully think there always is, in everything that we make, that we’re hopeful — that there is peace in it, as well as being kind of sad. To have the music take it up there [to hopefulness] is a credit to the guys more than me.
So you bring the darkness and they bring the hope?
Maybe.
The subject of "Numbers" is clearly going through a painful breakup, but still refers to their loneliness as a “kingdom.” Do you feel like there is a redeeming quality to loneliness?
I find it quite inspiring sometimes. Whenever I am in that mind frame, I find it makes me write, probably because I’m not very inspired to write when I’m feeling okay [Laughs]. There is something about loneliness that inspired me to write a lot of songs on the album. It’s a strange thing.
Was there a particular loss that inspired this album?

There’s a song about my grandmother, which I had never written about before, I think that kind of came out of nowhere. My brain had wanted to talk about it for a while, and I hadn’t really. Just the loss of memory and of self — she’s still alive, but it’s a loss of her soul. I mean, she’s still there, but it’s hard when you see someone your whole life and maybe they don’t know exactly who you are anymore.

Do you feel like we’re seeing a broader shift toward more vulnerability in music and culture more generally?

I haven’t really noticed it too much. There have been were a lot of times where I’d go to second guess where I’m writing, and then I just say “Well, write what you want to write.” I think honesty is the best policy. I don't know if it’s a trend; I think I’ve always just loved records that feel really honest, like they’re not filtered or overthought.

We haven’t really been listening to records a lot when making an album. We tend to go on a dry spell and shut ourselves away. But I absolutely loved "Carrie & Lowell" [by Sufjan Stevens]. That to me was such an honest record and it was just so beautiful, one of the most beautiful things I’ve heard for a long time.

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Daughter plays Union Transfer in Philadelphia on March 3, and Somerville Theatre in Somerville, March 4.

 
 
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