Tennis are great, aren’t they? The husband-wife duo have crafted a loving ode to throwback indie-pop, cultivated in their latest release Yours Conditionally. We sent some questions over to Alaina Moore to find out more about the release and their creative process…
Hello, lovely Tennis. Where in the world are you at this point in time?
Hello! We’re home in Denver for a small break after spending the last month on the road.
We’ve been listening to Yours Conditionally. Are you happy with the way it turned out, and the way it’s been received?
I wouldn’t have released the record if I wasn’t happy with how it turned out. As far as its reception, I can’t speak to that. All I can do is please myself. I have my own goals for my writing. I want to see growth, I want catharsis and release. If I have achieved those things, I’m satisfied. In terms of album sales and show attendance, this is most successful Tennis release ever.
Criticism is always an interesting point in music. Do you guys read it or acknowledge it in any way?
I don’t read it but I know it’s out there. I’ve have to laugh at our Pitchfork rating, which is down an irritatingly specific 0.6 from our last numerical score, even though this album is objectively better than anything else we’ve done. The straight-A student, over achiever in me hates mixed reviews, but then I remember that I get to work for myself and write for myself. Everything’s working out just fine.
Does being in a marriage help you shield each other from things (not just criticism)? Or do you have your own coping mechanisms?
We handle things differently and it can be difficult, but we always have each other. We indulge in panic attacks or existential crises in shifts. Someone is always strong while the other is weak. That is our arrangement. That is how we survive.
In terms of the process as well, does one of you (pardon the Tennis expression) have an advantage for decision-making?
There is no hierarchy in our marriage. We occasionally default to the person with more knowledge or experience in a moment of indecision. We rely on each other’s strengths, but we also work hard to share that expertise with each other. For example, Patrick is a better engineer, but he strives to teach me everything he knows so that there is no asymmetry between us.
The new album is political in its own right. We read about the troubles you had with the label. Was the overt contrast in sleeves – whiteout face on Ritual, close-ups on YC – a little dig on that too?
We didn’t have trouble with the label, we felt disconnected from the process of releasing the record. We wanted to reinstate some measure of intimacy. We wanted to indulge in our autonomy. We wanted to control our image. Music is my way of exploring and articulating my identity. Involving a label diluted that process. As far as album artwork, I’ve always wanted Patrick to join me on the cover. We just never had an image that worked for us until now.
“We wanted to reinstate some measure of intimacy. We wanted to indulge in our autonomy. We wanted to control our image.”
Ladies Don’t Play Guitar. The title in itself could make us write a thesis. Is it a take on gender, labels, fans, social media, journalists, all of the above?
It is a take on gender. I speak to the way women are reduced to archetypes and relegated to complimentary roles. Even though Patrick and I are equal partners, we are treated and perceived differently by the music industry. We both see it. Rather than internalizing it, I’ve decided to point it out.
Where does Tennis go next?
We will tour until we have to stop, until we are on the brink of a nervous breakdown. Then we’ll go home and write another record.
Finally, the one question we ask everyone: what’s your favourite Beyonce song?
This answer might be cheating, but my favorite Beyonce song is a Destiny’s Child song, their cover of Emotion by the BeeGees. I used to fall asleep to that song when I was young. I sang it endlessly.