Luca Venter

Tennis’ ‘Pollen’ Marks a Gorgeous New Era of Indie

Pollen came into our lives last month… we haven’t been the same since. (And, no, it’s not allergies.)

Lo-fi pop duo Tennis have released another set of sleek tunes. Their new album, Pollen, finds the couple flirting even more with their sixties-esque sound, and single “Let’s Make A Mistake Tonight” is an example of that. It’s a slow, lush tune that captivates the listener’s ears with an undeniable groove just with a few keystrokes. 

Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley, better known together as Tennis, are a married couple finding themselves getting older in a musical space that’s increasingly for a younger demographic. However, their art can be appreciated at any age and by any age despite its retro aesthetic, which is why so many fans are excited about their tour. This new record and the 10 songs that fill it out are to be performed for those fans at The Fillmore Philadelphia on March 31 and The Beacon Theatre on April 1.

The Aquarian’s Robert Frezza sat down with vocalist Moore to talk the indie scene, the new album’s recording sessions, and her expectations of the new album, Pollen.

What are your thoughts on finessing the indie scene without going mainstream?

That’s an interesting question. I don’t think there is much of a distinction between mainstream an indie anymore. It’s more of a sound than a delineation between major labels and indies. There are pop stars on indie music playlists these days. It’s interesting to watch a genre we’ve always been a part of shift in meaning throughout our career. I think it’s the end of the Gen X mentality in music; it mattered to that generation to denote which artists were well-funded, part of a machine. No one really cares about that anymore. Taylor Swift is a mainstream pop star that made indie records with folklore and evermore. That’s the cultural shift.

What’s changed in the personal lives outside the realm of the Tennis that may have inspired Pollen?

Time passing. We’re older. We started in our early twenties and now we’re in our late thirties. It’s just different. Rock and roll, touring… it’s a youthful pursuit that it’s almost naive. Now Patrick and I spend a lot of time trying to reconcile the demands of being an artist with our personal lives. We value home life, a strong community of family and friends. Our band used to be the only thing we cared about. Now I want to round out my life with other experiences.

Alaina you were quoted saying that you “write yourself into the highest of highs and lowest of lows” for this particular project. What did you mean by this?

In a literal sense, I hit the highest and lowest notes accessible in my vocal range. I don’t write to flatter my voice. I write the melody I think the song wants even is if it’s tough for me to sing. In another sense, I also wrote parts that felt euphoric and suffered through writing parts that made me cry through vocal takes.

What have you done differently in the studio recording wise for Pollen?

The biggest change was swapping out instruments. For example, we made a point not to use any synths that we used on our previous records – this kept our writing fresh. Also, Patrick and I wrote everything together for the first time. In the past we wrote separately and then showed each other our work.

What are your goals for this particular album? What do you want the listener to take away from Pollen?

For once I don’t want to impose anything on the listener. I think the music speaks for itself. It conveys everything I needed it to, while allowing room for the listener to bring their own experiences and interpretation to the songs.

How do you translate these gorgeous pop tunes in front of a live audience? When do you plan on playing the States behind the album?

That’s something we’re still figuring out. We like to do faithful versions of the album live, but some studio songs just don’t work in a live setting. It will be a bit of trial and error figuring out which songs from Pollen will go on the road with us, but North American tour dates begin in March and will go through May.