The phone rings and I think about the first time I ever heard New Look. It was in 2008 at a sparsely populated dive bar in London’s East (The MacBeth, you know it) and the band was essentially unknown. Something stirred inside me that night so I emailed them the next day to tell them I loved the show, and they sent me their EP, How’s My Hair? in return.
“Hello?” a voice on the other end. It’s Adam Pavao, one half of the husband-wife Canadian dream team that is New Look’s line-up. It’s been 4 years but I’m still a giddy fan-girl — I recount the East London show where I first discovered them and Adam laughs as he remembers.
“Back in the day people didn’t really know us, so we sort of had to win the crowd over… But now that we have some stuff out and people in London know us it’s like totally silent in between songs and it’s really, really nice. It gives us such a great feeling that people are listening, you know?”
When I spoke to Adam and New Look front woman, Sarah Ruba, it was September and they were driving on the motorway from London to Bristol for the UK launch of their self-titled debut album. I ask Adam to reflect on the last three years.
“Since the EP we’ve sort of travelled a lot; so when we did that EP it was all out of New York. We were living in New York and after releasing the EP, and it created a little bit of a buzz and that sort of… well, we saw the light, we saw that this actually could be a reality, you know?”
Indeed, the album (released today in the United States, but an “old” release for Europe), shows a new maturity, and a refinement of the saccharine synth-led electro beats of the EP. An impressive and substantial growth, New Look’s determination and direction are both solid and unwavering; their collected experiences read in gut-turning tracks like “The Ballad”, and across Ruba’s intimate, tonal crooning.
“We decided to get more serious — we’ve always been so serious with music, but you know, you always have to pay the bills too. We were living in New York and Sarah was doing the modelling, fashion stuff, and that was sort of consuming all of our time and we couldn’t really put the time into music that we wanted to, so we decided to move to Berlin just to focus on music. So we did that and sort of grew from there, being exposed to a different culture and different types of music.”
“Eventually we went back to Canada and then went back to New York again. So by the time we finally got back to New York again… and then when we got back to New York the second time we felt, I guess, we felt the energy of New York that we didn’t feel the first time, because we came back kind of different and ready to go. The album is the journey of the last couple of years of our lives and we can sort of hear that in all the songs — we can hear where we were in certain points in time.”
Already being hailed as the Next Big Thing and being compared to seminal musicians including Aalyiah and Sade, Adam is confident the praise and attention is deserved.
“It’s really awesome and humbling to be mentioned in that way, and it’s, yeah, just so awesome that someone sees us that way. But at the same time I’m like “fuck yeah”, like, we worked really hard for this, our lives are dedicated to music, we’ve had this vision for a long time and we’ve worked so hard to try toget it out there for people to listen to so when someone says that I’m humbled by it but at the same time that’s right, you know? That’s the way it should be!”