At the forefront of a new Latin American revolution is Intimate Stranger, a band from Chile that makes music distilled from elements of American, British and European indie pop/rock.
Playing Thursday at the Jinx, Intimate Stranger is like the Cure meets the Cars – it’s synth–y dance music, with a lot of trebly guitar, engaging melodies and English–language, Bjork–meets–Chrissie Hynde vocals from bassist Tessie Spoljaric–Woodgate.
She began the band around 2005 in Santiago with her husband, guitarist Lautero Vera. Together, they wrote the songs on the two Intimate Stranger albums, Life Jacket and Under.
Last year, Intimate Stranger’s internationally rambling road led the band to Austin. They’re officially an American band now – at least on paper.
Here’s a selection of conversational nuggets from an interview we did with Spoljaric–Woodgate a few days ago.
“I am a citizen of both England and Croatia. I was born in Croatia, but I only lived there for two years. Then I lived in the U.K. until I was 10, when my family moved to Brussels, in Belgium. I lived there for eight years. I went to an international school there, and after I graduated I went back to Brighton, in the south of England, to study international relations. I had a year abroad as part of my studies, and that’s when I decided to go to Chile. And that’s what I would call my real base now.”
“I started playing piano from a really young age. I played more by myself and never with a band, but my music background was really diverse – my family is very musical. I grew up listening to all kinds of stuff. But I guess because it was the late ‘80s, beginning of the ‘90s, it was lots of English and American, indie stuff like Sonic Youth and goth stuff like the Cure. The Pixies and stuff like that. When I was going to high school in Belgium, the biggest thing in music was electronic music, and I was really into that as well. When I moved to Chile, that was when I really got back into listening to bands.”
Music in Chile
“There’s a lot of bands in Chile, and a lot of different types of music. I met Lau when he was playing in a band there called Don Fango. He’d grown up there in the middle of a massive hardcore movement in Santiago. Meeting him in 2003, and seeing his band, that kind of excited me and got me into guitar–based music again. Meeting him really made me want to do music with him. We started listening to music, and writing songs together – our relationship blossomed out of out love for music, I suppose. The music that I was listening to, when I was growing up, was exactly the same music that he was listening to while he was on the other side of the world.”
“I’ve been coming to Austin for a long time to visit my dad. And I’d go to South By Southwest every year – even before I went to Chile and met Lau, I would always go to see the bands at SouthBy. And we’ve played three times at SouthBy now, and for two years we’ve helped organize a ‘Chilean Showcase,’ and that was great. There’s a lot of stuff going on with bands in Chile, bands that are only really now trying to go to the States. For us, it was a total opportunity – we’ve got a following in Chile, and a good network of friends there, and we definitely want to keep that. We’re planning a tour of Chile, Argentina and Brazil in the fall. But coming here was really important for us, because we really want to reach more people, and travel to places we’ve never been. Get our music out to more people. So that’s really why we’re here.”
With: Cusses, Bambera
Where: The Jinx, 127 W. Congress St.
When: At 10 p.m. Thursday, June 2