Married music duo Tennis has long been our go-to summer soundtrack, thanks to their signature brand of ultra-chilled beach pop. So it’s good news for summer 2015 that Alaina and Patrick will be back with a third album, ‘Ritual in Repeat’. To find out more, we chatted with Alaina on recording, stage-fright and her new obsession with the ’70s.
What can we expect from the new album?
This album was tough for me and Patrick. I didn’t know what the future of Tennis was supposed to sound like. Everything I wrote sounded like something I’d already written, or someone who wasn’t me. But we travelled around a lot for inspiration and I pushed myself to try new ways of songwriting which helped get the sound.
What’s your favourite track?
Needle And A Knife is my most personal moment on the record. I was 28 when I wrote it, thinking about Womanhood (with a capital W) for the first time in my life. Lyrically it represents the ambiguity I feel towards motherhood, marriage, and the inner conflict that those things represent to me. I listened to a lot of No Doubt during this period. Gwen Stefani is insight wrapped in raw emotion. I wish she would write a memoir or at least an advice column.
The video has a real ’70s vibe – what inspired that?
I wanted a video that combined a ’70s aesthetic with the dreaminess of adolescent girlhood. I was inspired in part by Petra Collins’ photography which is aggressively girlish. Also, the ’70s was a good time for curly hair which is why it so appeals to me.
What shows are you excited to play this summer?
I have a bittersweet relationship with playing live because I have pretty intense anxiety on stage. Writing a song alone in your room is very different from recreating it in front of hundreds of people. I am growing into it though, and it gets easier with time. Next week Patrick and I are performing a song from the Blue Velvet soundtrack as a tribute to David Lynch in LA – I couldn’t be more excited about anything!
How would you describe your style?
My style is constantly in flux. The only constant is that I dislike wearing very girly clothing on stage. I want to feel tough and move freely. Clothes with a slightly androgynous bent seem to balance out my waifishness. Lately I am most inspired by Sean Young in Blade Runner. She is elegant in a way that is powerful and angular; all softness and hard edges.
What’s your dream outfit to perform in?
Anything by Hedi Slimane at Saint Laurent. He perfectly channels the spirit of early rock and roll, whether it’s ’60s Rolling Stones or ’70s Patti Smith. He makes clothing that is wearable but transformative, which is essential to rock and roll iconography. That said, there is nothing punk rock about a $4,000 fringe vest. If only fashion houses were as ‘of the people’ as their sources of inspiration are.
How does being married to Patrick help (or hinder!) your work?
Without Patrick I doubt I would have ever written a song, so in that sense he is everything to my work! Now, after years of making music together, I have been able to develop my own voice and style separately from him. Difference in our writing style leads to more disagreement, but conflict yields the best results! We make each other better, and we want each other to be our best, no matter what that means for Tennis. I think that’s what makes us work!
‘Ritual and Repeat’ is out on 20th April. Keep up with all things Tennis here.