It’s been four years since Architecture in Helsinki visited us in Perth. For a band that seemed to be on every festival bill and indie music chart for a number of years, it’s actually been a while between drinks! So what have the band been doing? Ahead of their show this Saturday, May 26 at the Art Gallery of WA headlining Art Ball, SHANNON FOX caught up with front man Cameron Bird. According to him, having time off has been essential for writing new songs. Architecture in Helsinki will be joined by The Southern River Band, The Brass Cartel feat. Odette Mercy, Ukiyo feat. Your Girl Pho, DJ Zara Bryson, and The Potbelleez, as well as Joel Creasy who will be providing a bit of sass as MC. Plus the Blonde Ambition Floor Show, wearable art installations, a finale by the West Australian Opera, and most salacious of all, The Confessional – where people can confess their sins to be projected across the gallery (anonymously of course). 

“I guess we did about 10 years of solid back to back recording and touring without actually taking time to live life!” Bird says. “When you’re writing songs you kind of need life experience, you can’t just get by on writing and writing and touring and touring. I think there’s a point in time where you need to step away and be like ‘you know what? I just need to take a break’.”

Although the group have been hanging out and writing things, he says they are in no rush and will take it as it comes, and are fully aware the music scene has changed a bit since their last album, Now + 4eva (2014).

“When we put our last record out, Spotify was totally a thing but it was not anything like it is now,” he considers. “I think the streaming services have really taken over and that really changes the game a lot… Good records and good songs will always be heard so it doesn’t really matter to me how. If you’re making records that are important and people want to hear then they’ll find them somehow.”

Bird and his fellow Architects are returning to the west coast to play the third annual Art Ball, a fundraiser for the Art Gallery of WA held within the gallery walls, and a show which will be a ‘hit parade’ of the group’s singles. “[I] love playing at art galleries,” says Bird. “Most of our band went to art school so we’ve got a real affinity with [art]. That was a big draw for us doing this show.”

Often cited as Perth’s answer to the Met Gala, the night features a line-up of local and interstate talent, live portraiture, and nude life drawing amidst Baroque and Renaissance artworks from A Window on Italy – The Corsini Collection. “I’ve done some life drawing in my time but I’m terrible at it,” says Bird. “It’s a good challenge but I’m definitely not a drawer!”

As with any red carpet event, one of the biggest drawcards of the night is the avant-garde fashion on display. The band are apparently yet to put together their outfits but are excited by the challenge. The Art Ball is a night that celebrates fashion, art, and music – three disciplines that Bird says have overlapped a lot in the last ten years in particular.

“We definitely have plenty of friends in the fashion world. I wouldn’t consider myself a clothes horse, but I’m definitely interested in what’s going on in fashion because I think those things all feed off each other. Whether it’s in pop or hip-hop or whatever, there are always references to fashion … artists use that visual to peddle their wares. Their look and their whole identity can be based around what clothes they’re wearing. I think it’s a super important part of it! The way you present yourself, whether that’s in clothes or in song or whatever it is, it’s an integral part of the way people understand your music I think.”

The Art Ball is presented by Vogue, who coincidentally employs a writer also called Cameron Bird. “I did not know that! That’s hilarious! At one of our shows when we played in LA there was a guy called Cameron Bird and I got a photo with him with my driver’s licence.”