Self-Portrait: Raphaelle Standell-Preston and Austin Tufts of Braids
The Red Guitar
Jun 19, 2020
Photography by BRAIDS Web Exclusive
For our recurring Self-Portrait feature, we ask musicians to take a self-portrait photo (or paint/draw a self-portrait) and write a list of personal things about themselves, things that their fans might not already know about them. This Self-Portrait is by Raphaelle Standell-Preston and Austin Tufts of Braids. The whole band also submitted a self-portrait photo.
The Montreal trio (the lineup also features Taylor Smith) have released a new album, Shadow Offering, today via Secret City. The album was originally due out on April 24, but was pushed back to June 19 due to COVID-19. The album was produced by former Death Cab For Cutie guitarist/producer Chris Walla. Shadow Offering includes “Eclipse (Ashley),” a new song Braids shared last December. When the album was announced, the band also shared “Young Buck” via a video for the track, which was featured as one of our Songs of the Week. This was followed up by the album’s third single, the nine-minute “Snow Angel,” via a Kevan Funk-directed video, which topped our next Songs of the Week list. In April they dropped one final preview from the album, “Just Let Me,” via a video co-directed by the band’s singer Raphaelle Standell-Preston in her directorial debut.
The art rock three-piece explores love in its many forms throughout their new long-player, and they have given listeners a taste of this journey with the four songs they have already released. “Eclipse (Ashley)” delves into aspects of innocent love, such as friendship and personal reflection, whereas “Young Buck” takes a stab at the challenges of seduction and desire. “Snow Angel,” a cathartic outcry against the stressors of politics and the media, is contrasted by the woes of a dissolving romantic relationship in “Just Let Me,” concluding an introductory sample platter of love in the modern world. This record is a raw, anecdotal excursion through the minds and hearts of three indie rockers piecing together an infamously impossible puzzle.
With regards to their latest album, Standell-Preston had this to say in a previous press release: “There’s more hopefulness in this record than anything else I’ve written. I think the songs are more human, more tangible, more honest.”
Read on as Standell-Preston and Tufts dispel stories of allergies, adventures, pizza, and pictures. (Intro by Lily Guthrie)
1. I am incredibly allergic to most animals except for some dogs, poodles, and such. The worst for me are horses—being near a horse is like having 50 cats around you, because they’re so big. When Braids were in Mongolia for a show, we had the amazing opportunity of going horse back riding on a rural, nomadic horse farm, near the statue of Genghis Khan. I had never been horseback riding and had never been around a horse for more than two minutes, BUT I was determined to join in the experience. I put on a charcoal filter mask that fit tightly over my face, sunglasses, took four Benadryls, and rode extremely stoned through the hills of Mongolia. It was one of the best moments of my life. I then slept for 15 hours that night.
2. I’ve been told that before I ask a question, my ears move, kind of like how a deer’s ears move when they sense a predator. This also happens if I see something sweet that I want to eat. Since being told this, I have realized that I have full control over moving my ears and can do it upon command. I can also move my eyebrows in the shape of a wave and have been practicing this since age four when Ace Ventura Pet Detective came out, and I wanted to be able to move my eyebrows like Jim Carrey.
3. I was on track to pursuing a dance career and a jerk high school guy tripped me and cracked my knee cap. I spent six weeks in a cast, and during this time, a red guitar showed up at my house that was a present for my mother from my uncle. I was told by my mom that this guitar was not for her, but for me and that my Uncle Timmy didn’t know exactly how to give presents. Apparently, my Grandmother Jean, while on her death bed (may she rest in peace), told my Uncle Timmy that if he didn’t look out for me, she would haunt him. This was his way of looking out for me. My Uncle Timmy has since passed, and I miss him with all my heart. He is the reason why I started writing songs. If the red guitar that was said to have been for my mother hadn’t shown up, I don’t think I would be on this path, and I am grateful.
1. I am a second-generation drummer. I grew up in a very musical household in Calgary, AB. My father is a professional jazz drummer/percussionist, and my mother a lover of music with an amazing voice. The basement in my childhood home, where my family still lives, is a humble music room full of percussion instruments from all around the world. Many nights each week, there would be different bands playing in the basement. Celtic bands, jazz quartets, klezmer music projects, and folk musicians, my house was full of music daily. My parents never forced me to play as a child, but rather allowed me the space to come to the drums out of my own curiosity.
2. I love to cook BBQ pizza on my Weber charcoal kettle. Next to actually having a wood burning pizza oven, it’s the most effective way to cook thin crust ‘za. Because you can get the Charcoal BBQ up to like 650 degrees Fahrenheit, you can get a fully cooked pizza, with nice crust bubbles and melted cheese in under two minutes. I discovered a technique where you roll/spin out the dough, brush it with olive oil, and place naked dough oil-side down on the grill. Cook for 45 seconds, until bubbles form. Then flip the dough and remove from heat, dress with sauce, cheese. and other desired toppings, return to grill and finish for 45 more seconds! Try it if you can… It’s amazing.
3. In 2011, I started shooting 35mm film on an old Nikon FM that my parents weren’t using anymore. This coincided with when Braids first started to tour internationally. Since then, I have shot over 200 rolls of film, capturing our tours, our recordings, and my life at home. During this time of self isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I recently organized all of my film negatives from over the years, and it hit me how I’ve been quietly amassing a visual biography of the highlights of my life. I hope to continue shooting with the same camera for many years to come so I can look back on this collection of images when I’m older and see my whole life. I guess that’s the same feeling that people have who have been keeping an active Instagram for many years. I hope we all save those photos somewhere… Someday it will be a goldmine of memories.