Tiny Deaths' Claire de Lune talks heartbreak, misogyny, Timberwolves

Claire de Lune. (Photo by Zoe Prinds.)

Claire de Lune. (Photo by Zoe Prinds.) Zoe Prinds-Flash Photography

Tiny Deaths has evolved.

The dream-pop duo of vocalist Claire de Lune and producer Grant Cutler released Elegies, their first full-length, in February, and it’s more lyrically intimate and instrumentally lush than the band’s previous releases, an eponymous EP in 2014 and Night Flowers in 2016. On these eight post-breakup-themed tracks, de Lune remembers and laments but ultimately rallies her strength to go on. From her sumptuous singing and Cutler’s hypnotic beats, a libidinous lamentation ideal for dancing, seduction, or indulging nostalgia is born.

City Pages: I assume the name “Tiny Deaths” comes from the translation of the French term for “orgasm”?

Claire de Lune: Yes. The first time I heard that translation, my friend Ander was making a joke and the punchline was, “I would die tiny deaths.” I wasn’t even familiar with the translation. I was like, “Huh. That’s perfect for this music that I’m working on.” It encompasses what we sound like. It’s sort of macabre but it’s all those things and I think that’s what our music is like: ethereal and beautiful and sexy, but it also has this consistent undercurrent of darkness.

CP: A lot of heartbreak, too. Is Elegies about a specific person or relationship?

CDL: It’s an amalgam of a bunch of different people. The songs are written over a long enough period of time – it took us about three years to write that record – that it’s not all about one person. I’d say it’s about the type of person that I wound up with a couple times. It’s also about coming out on the other side of that. You know that idea from the end of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind? Like, “This isn’t going to work out. It’s doomed. We both know that.” And they sort of were just like, “OK.” I really like that sentiment.

I think we have a cultural obsession of things lasting forever, you know? And if it doesn’t last forever, it’s a failure. I don’t subscribe to that. I think that things last as long as they’re healthy and beneficial. That’s not always the case. Just because something didn’t last, it was flawed, or because people have some fucking issues doesn’t mean you need to have regrets or wish it never happened. You take things from every experience. You learn something about yourself, about other people. I think a lot of the record is about coming out on the other side of a dysfunctional relationship or a star-crossed relationship and surviving that and being better for it.

CP: You’re from an R&B background. How does writing in this genre compare?

CDL: I started off doing singer-songwriter stuff, actually. That transformed into meeting people in the hip-hop community and then I ended up doing R&B stuff. I grew up on R&B and I love it. I don’t know how naturally it comes to me. I think that in some ways, this music comes super naturally to me, and in some ways, as a songwriter, I have to push myself. I give myself challenges to keep things from being too monotone, straight up-and-down pop songs.

CP: You wrote a piece about misogyny in the music industry a while back for City Pages. How do you feel about that now? Is it better? Worse?

CDL: I haven’t been touring as much since I wrote that. I’m not in the trenches as much as I was. I don’t think it’s gotten a whole lot better. I don’t know if it’s gotten worse. There’s plenty of misogynists and there’s plenty of people who are complicit in it even if they aren’t actively doing it, but I don’t think there’s a ton of indie rock dudes that voted for Trump. I don’t think it got way worse in the way other industries got way worse. I don’t think it’s changing as quickly as I would like it.

I have noticed that the younger generation coming up in the music industry are really fucking cool. There’s a lot of androgyny, a lot of gender fluidity, a lot of sexual fluidity. The next generation just seems rad. They seem like they’ve figured some stuff out that I wish my generation and the generations before mine had figured out sooner.

I guess that’s kind of the natural order of things: Each generation is more progressive and cooler than the one before. The thing that gives me hope is that I do see things changing in a sense that it’s becoming less and less politically correct to outwardly do stuff. I still think it’s super unbalanced. I’ll go to a show and I’m like, “There’s not a single person besides white dudes on this bill of three bands.” It’s ridiculous.

CP: I was scrolling through your Twitter and noticed a lot of tweets about the Timberwolves. Are you a superfan?

CDL: Yes, I am! I hesitate to say it, but especially as a woman who’s into sports, if you say you’re a big fan, my mentions are about to be like 40 dudes, “Yeah, well, whose cousin played for the Timberwolves B-team in 1993?” I’m a recent convert to basketball. I was definitely one of those artsy people that was like, “Fuck all sports. Sports are dumb.” And then two years ago, a couple of my bandmates were into basketball and I was hanging out with them after shows and they’d be watching it and I’d be like, “This is really entertaining.”

Then I ended up getting into the Timberwolves. I think I picked a pretty good time to get into them. It looks like we have the best chance of getting into the playoffs that we’ve had in, like, ten years. I have a lot of not complementary interests. I love basketball and I’m also like a super-bleeding-heart hippie artist. I contain multitudes.

Tiny Deaths
With: Teenage Moods, Gay Henry, DJ Andrew Broder
Where: 7th Street Entry
When: 8 p.m. Sat. July 29
Tickets: $8 - $10; more info here