Article by: Angela Suico | Photos courtesy of Butterfly Boucher | Posted: 04/30/2012
If Butterfly Boucher had to pick a food to represent her music, she says her choice would be sweet and sour chicken. “I look for the sweet and the sour, when it comes to music,” says the Australian 32-year-old, “and I want a sad song and I want a happy song. Or even, both in one song—that's a challenge to me.”
“Sweet” and “sour” are both good descriptors for her new self-titled LP, which features Boucher’s strong vocals layered over catchy pop-rock melodies and instruments all played by Boucher herself. She has said that the album represents a return to her childhood--a time when she would simply create music for the mere joy of making sound, and this auditory celebration is apparent with her use of quirky elements like a cowbell and a xylophone.
Explaining how she incorporated the former into her song “Unashamed Desire,” Boucher says that when she was writing the song, the cowbell “was actually just sitting there... I demoed the song with [Australian singer-songwriter] Missy [Higgins] over at my friend [and fellow Ten out of Tenn band member] Katie Herzig’s house ‘cause my studio was just in pieces at the time. And Katie had a little drum kit that she'd set out and she just had a cowbell, staring me in the face. So it came to a breakdown in the song and I… just jokingly kind of [played] it and they're like, ‘Let’s just [hook] up a mike and do that.’” The xylophone heard in “Table For One” was also courtesy of Herzig.
For Boucher, testing out the sounds made by different objects, not necessarily just instruments, is one of the greatest pleasures in life. “It's one of my favorite things,” she says, “to go around the room and hit things until I find the right percussion sound. Sometimes it ended up being a bookcase, hitting it with a pen, [and I’ll be] like, ‘That's it—that's the sound!’ That's the stuff that I love. When I get in the studio and I'm able to do that stuff—that's when I come alive.”
While the child-like celebration of sound accounts for the sweet aspect of her album, the serious and occasionally mournful lyrics account for the sour: “I stole your heart and cashed it in,” Boucher sings remorsefully in the delicate “Warning Bells,” while “Not Fooling Around” carries a strained effort at self-deception with statements like “I’m not fooling around tonight/ I’m not trying to win you back/ Fine, I’m trying to win you back.” A majority of the album centers on break-ups, though Boucher says she has been hesitant to call it “a break-up album because that gives the impression that it's this dark… ‘I-wanna-kill-myself’ kind of record, [when] it's just not at all. I feel like it's a lot more upbeat and…creative and just …moody, rather than sad.”
The need to balance out the LP’s more serious songs resulted in Boucher’s inclusion of the album’s first single “5, 6, 7, 8,” whose delightful, creeping bass line conjures up the image of a child sneaking around and gleefully up to no good. Originally not intended for the album, the song resulted from a challenge she and Herzig issued to themselves to write a song they “could dance to”--the pair’s answer to artists like Lady GaGa and Ke$ha--a rocker’s dance anthem, if you will.
Given her fascination with sound, it’s no surprise that Boucher’s song-writing process starts with the music rather than the lyrics. The music itself stems from her admiration of a variety of things, ranging from people to objects. “You know sometimes with watching the Olympics,” she muses, “you just get inspired by these people that have dedicated their lives to this random sport, and now this is their huge moment, and so I'm always inspired by that. People just out there, doing their thing, is inspiring to me. I also get inspired by pieces of furniture, pictures in catalogs, and art in general and colors. You never know what's gonna make me happy and then inspire me to go, ‘Hey, I should pick up a guitar and play.’”
When she’s not creating music in the studio or gleaning inspiration from watching the Olympics, Boucher says she enjoys working with plants. “To plant a really nice plant, and then see it grow is so absolutely satisfying,” she says. “And there [aren’t] too many things [where] you can do that in life and get such gratification...pretty soon.” (An understandable sentiment coming from someone whose sophomore album was delayed for three years due to messy label politics.) She hopes to eventually revive her teenaged hobby of restoring furniture and one day own a house with a workshop and “some really cool tools.”
Boucher also says she enjoys cooking, talking excitedly about some high-quality knives she recently acquired. I neglect to ask her if she’s ever made sweet and sour chicken, but in the end it doesn’t matter: Boucher already clearly does—it just isn’t the comestible kind.
Butterfly Boucher - "5, 6, 7, 8"