Interview: Amber Arcades

The Brief


Amber Arcades is the alias of dream pop musician Annelotte de Graaf. Her debut album, Fading Lines, was recorded with members of Real Estate and Quilt, and released on Heavenly Recordings in 2016. It was met with high acclaim, receiving five-star reviews from Drowned In Sound and The Skinny. Her latest EP, Cannonball, includes a reworking of Nick Drake’s ‘Which Will’, along with the singles ‘It Changes’ and ‘Can’t Say That We Tried’.

Which book would you recommend to our readers?
The Evenings
by Gerard Reve. The ultimate portrayal of the dullness and humour of Dutch culture.

Which film would you recommend to our readers?
Bad Education by Pedro Almodóvar. So many plot twists your mind will start to spin – it’s intriguing from start to end.

Which architectural work would you recommend to our readers?
New Babylon, designed by Constant Nieuwenhuys. His concept for a borderless world in which homo ludens builds his own surroundings is truly special.

[NB: Nieuwenhuys’s use of the term ‘homo ludens’, or ‘man at play’, is a reference to Johan Huizinga’s book of the same name, which emphasises the societal importance of play.]

Which television episode would you recommend to our readers?
‘Chris Martin’ from Extras, directed by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. I’m not a fan of Coldplay’s music, but this episode gave me a newfound appreciation of Chris Martin, the band’s frontman.


The following questions relate to our Perspectives column, in which two writers respond to an artwork that they are experiencing for the first time.

Can art help us to understand death?
Understand, no. Accept, maybe. Art can also make death less daunting for creators as they know they ‘leave something behind’.

Can colours portray information as effectively as speech?
No. We need language to even be able to see colours. Ancient Greeks couldn’t see blue because they didn’t have a word for it.

[NB: This phenomenon is discussed in an episode of Radiolab, ‘Colors’, which you can listen to here.]

Can we empathise with inanimate objects?
I just saw Westworld and I cried a lot so I’m going to say yes. People tend to humanise everything, like seeing a face in a picture of a sink.

Should critics assess art based on their personal likes and dislikes?
Ideally, no, but I think it’s impossible. It can also be fulfilling to read a biased teardown review of an artwork that you dislike.

States of the Arts

The following questions relate to our States of the Arts column, for which each article includes four artworks that share an association with a single nation or territory.

Which Chilean artwork would you recommend to our readers?
Moonlust, an album by The Holydrug Couple, is sublime in its psychedelic, dreamy haziness.

Which New Zealand artworks would you recommend to our readers?
What We Do in the Shadows, a film directed by Taika Waititi. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever been made to laugh so loud by a movie.

The art of discovery

The following questions relate to Silent Frame’s aim to celebrate the art of discovery.

Where do you go to discover new art, and why?
To friends who know a lot about art, because I am lazy and like getting personal recommendations from people who know me.

What question would you like to ask other Silent Frame interviewees?
Do you believe there is such a thing as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ in terms of the quality of art?

More to discover

Amber Arcades: You can visit Amber Arcades' website here, along with her Bandcamp, Instagram, Soundcloud, and YouTube pages. You can follow her on Twitter @AmberArcades. Her latest EP, Cannonball, is available here.

Katy Blackwood has interviewed Amber Arcades for Feisty, as have Andrew Trendell for Gigwise, Michael Hann for The Guardian, Ed Nash for The Line of Best Fit, London On the Inside, and Patrick Clarke for The Quietus.

Today's recommendations: The Evenings (excerpt), Bad Education (trailer), New Babylon (information on the Fondation Constant website), Extras (clips), 'Atlantic Postcard' (song from Moonlust), What We Do in the Shadows (trailer), Westworld (trailer).

Also on Silent Frame