After stumbling across the brilliant Bleaksploitation, we simply had to get a hold of the woman behind it. Archaic Triad shot off a number of slightly-too-wordy, fanzine style questions to the “patron saint of slumber pop“. This is the result. Pretty great one, if we may say so ourselves. Which we may.
First of all, there’s not that much information about you and your music available online (unless I’m a shit googler, which may well be the case). Could you do a brief bio – of yourself and/or of the band as a whole, balanced any way you like?
I’m from Maryland, I went to school in Boston, I’ve lived in New York for about five years, and have been making music the whole time. The discrete details aren’t all that interesting, but I’ve been writing songs for most of my life. My band is a shapeshifting group of the best musicians I know. They’re busy, but they make time for me when they can. Bleaksploitation is the first thing I played, engineered and produced myself, and has set the tone for what will come next this year. Now I’m committed to that process.
While we’re still getting the cliche questions out of the way, I should probably ask you about your influences. In fact, in your case I am genuinely interested. What bands, people, plants or pets (living or dead) have inspired you to do what you do, or had some kind of impact on it?
So many, by way of the friends (also songwriters) who have passed them to me. Speaking of cliche, check out my influences! Randy Newman has been hitting me over the head again and again, specifically his ballads. I just got into Springsteen via Darkness on the Edge of Town. Karen Dalton, Linda Thompson, Nina Simone. A lot of Michael Hurley. These recent obsessions are with simple songs, simple delivery, but from immaculate masters of sad.
This year I’ve been struck dumb by three books: Bluets, Blue Highways, and A Field Guide to Getting Lost, which, incidentally, has multiple chapters titled “The Blue of Distance.” In one such chapter Solnit, speaking on music, wrote: “There is a voluptuous pleasure in all that sadness, and I wonder where it comes from, because we usually construe the world, sadness and pleasure to be far apart.” My music is far more maximal as of late, but the origins of the song are from these things.
You chose to record “Bleaksploitation” on a Tascam 4-channel portable studio, and to release it on tape as well as on CD and vinyl. While I myself can’t see how anyone would have a problem understanding why you’d do such a thing, could you explain to the less enlightened why audio cassettes are in fact better than the internet?
Aha. I was, pretty late in life I think, just beginning to experiment with a 4-track when I was offered to make a cassette. That’s all I was offered, format-wise, and it was initially supposed to be a stranger concept (fifty cassettes that were all unique from one another, one-offs). I made Bleaksploitation instead. After it came out on cassette we later decided to do CD and vinyl. I don’t want to presume to say cassettes are better! They’re just slathered in vibe. I listen to cassettes on a shoebox player more often than I do other formats. To me they’re better because I can’t pick tracks, I can’t watch the waveform, it’s so democratic. I listen to mix tapes and I have no idea who I’m listening to. Their press photo isn’t an apparition above the song I’m hearing. This is just the current way I’m reinventing the magic of music unto myself.
I’m not sure if the next one will be on cassette – but I hope it is.
Since I am very much a musical dilettante, who would probably sit around listening to only crappy metal if I didn’t have this strange urge to find peculiar stuff, I am not really aware of what “scene” if any a group like you guys would be part of. Do you have any musical partners in crime, special venues where you play, a particular type of annoying fan…? Is there a environment where your stuff can blossom, and if so, is it enough of a cult to buy all your stuff and troll your enemies online?
My room mate is in the metal band Baroness. He’s good metal. But he also plays with me sometimes when I’m lucky. Two of my band mates own studios in Brooklyn, Gravesend Recordings and Spaceman Sound. I’ve also worked at Figure 8, where many of us record. Another band I’m in, Wilder Maker, just did an album there with Sam of Sam Evian, who put out a gorgeous album this year. Basically the answer is yes! I feel really grateful for it, because I didn’t expect to find something like what we have. The main venue for ‘incubation’ was perhaps Manhattan Inn, which recently closed. I played with my friend Jared’s band Invisible Familiars on one of the last shows, but I’ve seen so many sets there, some of which have changed my mind.
Is your goal to “make it big”, being able to live comfortably off the music, or just playing for the hell of it?
In that progression, two might equate to one, in which case I’ll take all three. I’d love to make enough to facilitate actually making music full time. To me “making it big” would mean breaking even after I pay the band well on tour, and I’d like to tour quite a bit.
What’s going on with you right now, music wise? Will we be seeing a new release any time soon? If so, I hope that Tascam will be brought out again...
There will be a new release, with a newer, shinier Tascam. I’ve upgraded to the 488, on recommendation from my label mate David Nance. It’s getting mastered very soon. Before it comes out I’m not sure what I’ll do. Maybe make a doomy record with my aforementioned room mate.
Now, if you wouldn’t mind doing my job for me: please ask yourself the questions I forgot to ask, and answer them.
What’s your favorite food?
What’s your favorite color?
Are you dating anyone?
Any final thoughts you’d like to express, or any shameless self promotion in which you’d like to indulge? If so, feel free to do so, and thank you for your time!
I feel pretty complete here. No complaints.