Win Butler says Arcade Fire’s Reflektor is “Studio 54 and Haitian voodoo”


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Today, BBC Radio 1’s Zane Lowe aired his full interview with Arcade Fire frontman Win Butler. Yesterday Lowe previewed the interview in which Butler confirmed Reflektor will be a double album, with several songs exceeding the seven-minute mark, “refined” down from the band’s original collection of 50 to 60 tracks.

According to Butler, the band spent a month in Jamaica working with producer Marcus Dravs, who helmed 2007’s Neon Bible and 2010’s The Suburbs. From there, they spent another “month, month-and-a-half” with LCD Soundsystem mastermind James Murphy in New York City.

For Reflektor, the band wanted to emphasize their rhythm section and overall percussive capabilities, an area they thought Murphy was more than an expert. “If you get James tapping his foot,” Butler said, “You’re on the right track.”

Arcade Fire drew inspiration from the local music of Haiti, going so far as to enlist Haitian Congo players on the LP and for subsequent touring/performances. The percussionists not only developed the album’s “underlying voodoo rhythms,” but helped drummer Jeremy Gara make huge strides behind the kit.

“Jeremy has never drummed better,” Butler said, calling it “really magical.” He added, “The grooves are really deep. These conga beats are the language in Haiti. They’re how people communicate.”

“Reflektor”, the title track and lead single, was inspired by the band’s trip to Haiti two years ago. While traveling to a rural village, the band contemplated how to perform for an audience “who had never heard The Beatles before” and how to play music while “stripped of context” and with “no history of rock and roll to rely on.” As such, the made sure to rely on basic rhythms and their inherent connective potential.

Butler encapsulated the record’s overall sound as a “mash up of Studio 54 and Haitian voodoo,” adding the band is excited for an increasingly boundary-free, genre-less musical soundscape. “To me the joy of making music in 2013 is you’re allowed to like Sex Pistols and ABBA and that’s fine. It’s such an explosion, anything that’s good rises to the top, and we want music that respects that.”

Butler said the band’s goal is to expand their aural repertoire and having fun doing so. “We’re at the point in our lives, career, where we’ve accomplished a lot,” Butler said. “When it comes down to the music, we’re doing things we haven’t done before. It’s really a joyful time.”

If you’re not yet burned out on Arcade Fire , we recently gathered a roundtable of 17 critics and musicians, including Childish Gambino, Local Natives, and Angel Haze to review “Reflektor”. We also caught the band’s secret show last night from Montreal’s Salsathèque.

Reflektor is due out October 29th via Merge. That’s the video for “Reflektor” below:

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