For a band writing a record titled The North, it would only seem right to head in that direction to get the creative juices flowing.
That is what Canadian indie-rock band Stars did with sixth studio album The North (2012), renting a house for 10 days in the Laurentians, a mountain region in Quebec, north of Montreal.
Says the band's vocalist and guitarist Amy Millan, 39, in a telephone interview from Switzerland, where Stars were touring recently: "What works best for us is when we got together and rent a beautiful house far away from the city, and hunker down, have meals with each other. It makes it more natural for us to come together to write in that environment."
Stars will be playing tunes off The North when they perform at the Kallang Theatre on Feb 19. It is an album which many music critics have lauded as an effortless, pleasant pop gem that shows off their solid songcraft.
Millan says there was a casual vibe to the way the band, all in their late 30s to early 40s, worked on the album, going for walks and swims in between writing songs and coming up with the melodies. Stars comprise herself, lead singer Torquil Campbell, bassist Evan Cranley, drummer Pat McGee and keyboardist Christopher Seligman.
Millan, who has a 20-month-old daughter with partner and fellow band member Cranley, also says motherhood made the songwriting and recording process filled with "anticipation, joy and happiness".
She says: "By the time we started writing I was nine months' pregnant... so that just affected what we were doing in our lives. It's like everyone who goes to work: If things are great then your job is going to be better."
And unlike working on their third album, Set Yourself On Fire (2004), which Millan says was a "tumultuous time" for the band, there was more trust among members this time around.
She says: "If somebody is telling you they don't like something, that can be very difficult to hear... but I think because we've been there for each other and supported each other so much throughout the years, now first things first, we all think one another are geniuses.
"That being said, now I'm going to say that that lyric you wrote is a piece of s***. You have to have that decorum with the band or else you can't call each other out on things that don't seem as good as they should be."