Active Artist

School of Seven Bells



Benjamin and I, although both from NYC, met in LA in
November 2004, when my first band went on tour with Secret
Machines and Interpol. It wasn’t until we were at an afterparty
one night, a few dates into that tour that we actually had our
first real conversation. The minute we looked in each other’s
eyes, I honestly felt like something hit me, and I knew that I
recognized him. Like, “I already know this person, I’ve known
him for a thousand years.” And immediately after that, we were
inseparable. We never had to explain anything. We never had to
talk about it. It was just that’s him and that’s her and that’s that.

The summer of 2012, when Benj and I started making
SVIIB, was one of the most amazing times of our relationship as
two people. We were so happy, and we’d finally reached this
perfect balance, after going through all the things we did
together. There was no baggage, no hurt anymore, everything
was pure, true friendship. We’d hit every color on the
spectrum. We were so close, and we had this flow like we’d
never had before. That summer was so happy, and the mood
and energy of this album perfectly captures that time.

I would get to Benj’s apartment in Brooklyn every day at 11
a.m. and we’d work until 10 or 11 at night, recording in his
bedroom or in our rehearsal space down the street. We never
really had demos but we’d record things and keep tweaking
them and making them better. He would start out with a loop or
maybe a verse or chorus arrangement and he’d give me that
piece of music to write to, and then he’d build parts and
changes and landscapes around whatever vocal melody I’d
come up with. It was never just one process for these songs, it
was always something different. I feel like, with these songs, we
finally found a way to fit in every single influence we’ve ever
had in the span of School of Seven Bells and have it make

I remember that when we started working on “Open Your Eyes,”
it kind of scared the shit out of me because it was so different
from anything else we’d ever done. It was really wild — I felt like
I was just winging it. I had never heard Benj’s production
sound like that. It was these very present moments where we
were making decisions right there, not really thinking about
where it was going to end up. That song was definitely one of
Benj’s favorites.

With “A Thousand Times More,” Benj was going through a
really harsh break-up, and I wrote that song for him. He’d given
me a loop of music, and the melody was one of those things
that seriously just came out in a day. Life was happening in this
very fast way, and I didn’t understand why back then. I didn’t
understand what was going on, but there was all this stuff that
had to come out.

“Ablaze” was definitely my big love song for Benj. I
remember feeling nervous having to show him the lyrics and
sing them, because I was so incredibly bare. Sometimes when I
listen back to these songs now, I have to wonder, “Did I even
know what I was writing?” It just seems to make even more
sense now. I don’t ever set out to have the songs be about a
particular thing — it’s just whatever is coming out at the time.
And for some reason, at the time, all that was coming out of me
were songs about him. It was like this weird compulsion to tell
our story, even if he didn’t know the songs were about him. A
lot of it was stuff that I was honestly scared to tell him.

For this album, Benj really challenged me to write
differently, as far as lyrics go, and differently as far as the
rhythms I was using. The music he gave me forced me to do
that, in a really awesome way. On our earlier records, the lyrics
are definitely a little more esoteric, whereas with this record he
was like, “How can we say this clearer?” He was trying to push
me to grow and expand. I knew where he was going musically
and I knew I needed to step up, too. He forced me out of my
comfort zone. It was extra hard, considering this time I was
writing a lot of things I’d never expressed to him, and he was
the person I had to express them to in order for this record to
come out.

We worked on this album that summer, and into the fall, and
then when Benj got sick, we set it aside. We didn’t do any
more work on it until the following spring, when we wrote and
recorded “Confusion” together in the same room. After
Benj passed and we got his computer, his brother Brandon
went through all the song files one by one, sorting out which
were the right versions of the tracks. I couldn’t listen to
anything that reminded me of School of Seven Bells — even our
older music. It was brutal. It’s all our story and it was just too
hard. My sister Claudia helped me finished the vocal recording
for “Music Takes Me” in NY the following winter, and just that
completely dismantled me.

But there was this big part of my life that wasn’t finished yet,
and finally this spring I got back together with Justin Meldal-
Johnsen in LA to record any unfinished parts and mix the
tracks for SVIIB. We had planned to work with him on this
album before Benj got sick, and he’d come to New York in
2013 to help us record “Confusion.” Justin was always very
involved and extremely respectful and sensitive to the situation.
And when the right time came, he was there.

We were working off demos, so we knew what they were
supposed to sound like. It was important to keep it as close as
possible to when Benj and I were creating it — that life that
they had when we were super inspired that summer. I wanted to
keep that vision really pure. I also only wanted to use the songs
that were almost done. I didn’t want to put anything on the
album that wasn’t almost 100% me and Benj, because it’s not
School of Seven Bells if it’s not the both of us. So we ended up
with nine songs.

There were definitely points where I didn’t think I could finish
this album. But it had to happen. I knew I had to finish it,
because we had already put so much work into it. I knew how
much this meant to Benj. His entire life, everything in his
body was music and making it. He never stopped. He had
grown so much as a producer and a writer and he’d
accomplished so much from the time I first met him. I couldn’t
not let people see this work, because he deserves it.

I know right now Benjamin is somewhere else. He’s a spirit.
He’s a foal somewhere. I know for him, wherever he is, this is
the last thing on his mind. But it’s really important for me. I
need people to hear this because I want them to hear what he
did. He was holed up for hours in the studio working so hard. I
am so fucking proud of him. He did everything that he wanted
to do for this record. I want people to see that. And maybe
somewhere he will catch some vibration of it. He might not
recognize it, he might not know what it is anymore, but
somehow he will catch some happiness from it.


  • Alejandra Deheza Vocals / Guitar
  • Benjamin Curtis Guitar

Latest Music


School of Seven Bells

SVIIB Feb 26, 2016 Buy