Cloud Control to Major Tim
Australian Times Editor TIM MARTIN sat down with Blue Mountains-born brother and sister, Heidi and Ulrich Lenffer, ahead of their band’s huge NME Awards Show gig this Friday. Chatting about everything from Aussie fans and breaking into Europe to sky diving and family fights on tour – we get the scoop on Cloud Control.
From all appearances, Heidi and Ulrich Lenffer seem just like any other Australians living and loving the London dream. But these aren’t two ordinary Aussie expats. They’re one half of the skyrocketing successful Australian musical quartet that is Cloud Control. Australian Times Editor TIM MARTIN sat down with the Blue Mountains-born brother and sister ahead of their huge NME Awards Show gig this Friday and chatted about everything from Aussie fans and breaking into Europe to sky diving and family fights on tour.
You guys have been based in London for almost a year now. How’s the whole European experience been for Cloud Control?
Heidi: Europe’s been amazing! [Turns to Ulrich] Would you say Europe met expectations or exceeded them?
Ulrich: Probably exceeded. We’ve seen a lot of Europe that I never thought I would see. Small towns that you wouldn’t usually go to.
H: Like Numburgen. And Utrecht. All these names you don’t associate with the mother name of a country. It’s kind of cool – getting the insiders perspective of a country.
U: And we’ve been touring a lot, we toured the album. We did a whole bunch of European shows, played London like four or five times. We’ve done video clips. Basically just things a normal band does in Europe.
H: And we went sky diving! Jumped out of a plane! We risked our lives for music and art.
How has the musical journey been for you guys so far?
H: It’s been a slow burn, that’s for sure. Because we’ve never been like a hyped ban. Which is nice. We’re the tortoise. Many hares have passed us and we’re just slow and steady. We’re only just starting to write our second album and it’s been like what, six years in a band. But it’s been really nice because every time we play a show we really feel like you can see our fan count going up one or two. So we just work hard on the live show front, that’s how we connect with people. It’s really cool, we always hang out at the merch desk after a show so we can talk to the people who have travelled. One couple drove six hours across Germany to come see our show. It blew us away.
U: [Laughs] Germans are whack.
H: Dedicated music lovers those Germans. Really impressive. But yeah, we do like to keep that personal touch as much as possible.
Do you think being brother and sister in a band has helped the journey?
H: I think it has helped it, that’s a good point, don’t you think so? [Looks at Ulrich]
U: Yeah, that’s a good way of putting it – it’s definitely helped. The way I’d put it is it’s just the difference of having to spend a whole heap of time in the car with a stranger or just someone that…it just takes away that level of awkwardness because it’s your sister. So it’s alright, you can just do whatever.
H: Yeah the other boys might have a different take on the matter but it’s not like we fight or anything…
U: And if we do it’s stupid and they just look at us and go, ‘shut up guys’. And we’re just like ‘alright, sorry, give us a minute, we’re just doing our sibling thing’.
How’s it been coming from a tiny town in the Blue Moutains just outside of Sydney to being based in London?
U: All of us were living in Sydney for three or four years before we moved here. If we’d come straight from the mountains to London, different story. But you know Sydney and London are comparable on many levels. But obviously in terms of music it’s just a much more densely populated city with so many more venues and so many more bands, so many more opportunities. So it’s been pretty impressive. You hear of all these bands coming out of London and you get to be amongst them and you realise it’s actually a thriving kind of, not competitive, but healthy industry in general.
Have you got quite a fanbase of expat Aussies over here?
H: Yeah! I think there was quite a lot at the Scala show.
U: But they’re not crazy, they don’t follow us or stalk us! [Laughs] Which is good.
H: But then on the last tour it was nice to see people turning out to see our shows in little places like Exeter that we’d never been to. Managing to fill a room there with enthusiastic fans, it’s nice to play to British people as opposed to just Australians. We love our Australian fans but coming over here it’s nice to win the hearts of people who don’t come from our side of the world.
2011 was a huge year for Cloud Control, kicked off with you guys winning the Australian Music Prize for your album Bliss Release. How was it to be recognised with such a prestigious award?
U: Yeah it was pretty good! I’m actually a judge this year so I got to see the whole process of listening to the hundreds of albums that get sent in…
H: And now you appreciate the prize more, right?
U: So much more, just because it’s the ultimate … I answered in an interview the other day when they asked ‘describe how you feel about it’. You know when to talk to your friends and they say ‘what’s your goal in your career’ and you say, ‘I want to be recognised by my peers for excellence and so on’, that’s exactly what the prize was. All your peers saying ‘yes, that was a good album’, so it’s pretty special!
This Friday you have your amazing NME Awards Show gig before you head back into ‘hibernation’ to write and record your second album. This gig must seem like a pinnacle to your time in London so far?
H: It’s interesting you put it like the ‘pinnacle’ of all of our work – it kind of is. It’s the end of this whole stage. We’ve been working hard for it – it’s the biggest room we will have played on our own show because the last one we did was 900 at Scala.
U: It’s going to be a good bookend I think because from there on it’s just new album, new album. Sitting down, writing, recording. The next time we play in London it’ll be with new songs.
No doubt those new songs will be just as good, if not better, than their music which has already skyrocketed them into the clouds.
Don’t miss Cloud Control at Camden’s Electric Ballroom on Friday 17 February.