What inspired you to first start making music? And how did you come to be in your current incarnation? Or if you prefer, a brief bio about you.
Red: I wrote a song on the piano when I was 12. Of course it was terrible, but it was a start. By the time I was 16, I was playing in bands and writing like crazy. Sami and I met in 2006 (almost 15 yrs. later) and we’ve been playing together since then.
Sami: I’ve been a dancer my whole life, so I was trained with a sense of musicality that didn’t involve making music, but expressing it with my body. I had some music lessons as a kid, but it never excited me all that much. I first became really inspired to drum because I was studying Haitian dance, and those rhythms were so deep and powerful that I felt pulled to learn how to play them. Around the same time, Red’s band was looking for a new paired-down/minimalist-oriented drummer, and they were super encouraging that I give it a go. I played a show with them (with a ton of fear and hesitation), and I was hooked. It was amazing. I’ve been making music with Red ever since.
Provide us with some info about your latest release…
Mothdust has been in the works for a really long time. We began writing some of these songs while we were on tour for Blue Spells in 2013. We recorded the first track in our studio. When we were on tour in maybe 2015 we wound up playing a show with Pall Jenkins (The Black Heart Procession – a huge influence of ours). We met him for lunch on a later tour to portland and asked him to play saw on the track. That was really exciting for us, and his saw really brings the song together. (Always About The Ones Who Have It All). We also had the good fortune of linking up with Brandon Eggleston (Swans) some years ago, and he did the mixing on that song. All of the other songs were recorded and mixed by our friend Sammy Fielding at Ancient Owl. We did the majority of the recordings at a cabin in Tahoe, surrounded by mountains and trees covered in snow. That was a really magical and fun experience.
We decided to call it ‘Mothdust’, because we’re really inspired by the night and it’s often misunderstood creatures. Our practice space became a moth haven while we were writing this record, and it seemed as if moths wanted to be our muses.
Which ones would you consider your main influences both music-wise & non-music-wise?
Sami: There are so many. It’s hard not to be influenced by everything. Musically i’m really inspired by Adrienne Davies, and Earth in general. I get a lot of inspiration from artists like Nina Simone, Chelsea Wolfe, Patti Smith. Non-music wise I’m inspired by Maria Sabina, Mama Lola, and other witch-y women. Artists like Leanor Fini, Isadora Duncan, and Georgia O’keefe. I also love the ones who have done great nature work like John Muir and Paul Stamets.
In what way does your sound differ from the rest genre-related artists/bands and why should we listen to your music? In other words, how would you describe your sound?
We call it Dream Doom. Our music is dark and sad, but it offers hope and consolation. Like many great blues musicians have said – you sing the blues to feel better. We like to purge our sadness, frustration, and angst, to come out on the other side feeling better. It’s cathartic. Musically, we’re a little bit doom metal, and little bit dark folk, and a little bit blues. Ultimately I guess we’re experimental and we don’t want to be put in a box. We love Swans, and we really relate to those existential, sometimes apocalyptic themes.
Please name your 3 desert islands albums, movies & books…
As for books… “A Natural History of the Senses” by Diane Ackerman, and currently “The Overstory” by Richard Powers and “Scatterlings” by Martin Shaw.
Red: If I was stuck on an island I’d probably like to have Beach House playing whenever I didn’t feel like changing the record. I’m with Sami on BB King, “Indianola Mississippi Seeds”, and Pink Floyd’s “Meddle” would be awesome to have around.
Do you prefer studio or performing live and why?
Red: Performing live, for sure. This is the reason I write and play music. I consider recording to be more or less a responsibility as a musician. I take recording seriously, but the performance is an emotional release that keeps me creatively satisfied.
Sami: I like both. It’s really fun to be in the studio with an engineer that knows what they’re doing, and there’s nothing more satisfying than playing live – especially when the vibes coming from the audience are awesome.
Is there any funny-unique story you would like to share with us, always in relation to your music ‘career’?
We were scheduled to play at Sled Island Music Festival in Calgary, AB in 2013. We were so excited – not just to play, but to see the other acts that were scheduled to play that year (including Swans, Explosions in the Sky, The Jesus and Mary Chain, and Thee Oh Sees, to name a few). But that was the year of the major Calgary flood, and most of the festival got canceled. We got to play our show, but we didn’t get to see most of the bands we were hoping to check out. It could’ve been worse – some bands we knew got their entire vans flooded out (vehicles were completely submerged) because they were parked in lower-lying lots. We avoided that tragedy, but it was so strange to have driven all that way to experience a canceled event, and a city under flood. The really bright side was that we ended up playing a spontaneous pop-up house-show (thanks to Leor and Kate) with a few other bands that were on tour for the festival. It was a super memorable show and we made some great friends.
Which track of your own would you point out as the most unique and why?
Red: Maybe “Paint It Grey”… track 3. It’s a short song with poignant lyrics and musicality that resembles a music box. It just kind of came together on it’s own, without much manipulation on our part. In many ways, it’s my favorite song on Mothdust.
Sami: I’d say “Life As It Is” is the most unique track on this album. The piano line is based on a piano composition written by Red’s brother Brian. This is the first song we’ve done based on someone else’s writing. We recorded it up in the snowy mountains with Sammy Fielding, and we got the idea to use the cabin’s heating vents as percussion. I had quite a lot of fun playing the vent with my hands and seeing what kind of noises it would make. It turned out pretty interesting I think.
Would you like to share with our readers your future plans?
We plan to do more touring, in support of this album. We’ve been wanting to get to Europe forever, and it feels like 2019 could be the year. We’re planning to experiment more with video-making as well. We’re going to release more videos for Mothdust throughout 2019.
Free question!!! (Ask yourself a question) you wish to answer and haven’t been given the opportunity…
Photo credits: Alanso Cat (1st one), Betty Dupree (2nd one)
Curated by: Christos Doukakis
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