Æ: Aglet Eaters

Interactions in Installments: Her Vanished Grace Part 3

Posted in Discover by R on February 13, 2012

In the final episode of Interaction in Installments, Charlie and I chat about how a propensity for shoegaze might be innate, the exhilaration that came with the creation of ‘Passenger’, and signs of shoegaze in hip-hop and classical music. Once again I get un peu carried away and interject with a story or two of my own 🙂

It’s Sunday evening here which means I still have a few precious hours before I really switch on work mode. I don’t like Sunday evenings, really. They are very broody and introspective and meaning-of-life-ish. They’ve always made me feel a bit sombre ever since I was in school. And maaaaan, catching a plane on a Sunday evening was one of the most inexplicably depressing moments of my life.

Anyway, back to the point. You know, I agree too – shoegaze is not, or at least is more than, a genre. I’ve always been a shoegazer, so to speak, I just never realised it. It’s more a style of sensibility. A kind of musical signature or flourish that I’ve always loved and sought out regardless of the ‘genre’ of music, or its age. There are even shoegaze sensibilities in classical music and hip hop. I’ve loved shoegaze before I knew shoegaze existed. I knew it as a style of music I liked so when I found out that there was an entire ‘genre’ devoted to this kind of music I was over the moon! I guess the scene (past and current) is essentially composed of a lot of people who liked certain sounds done a certain way and decided to make songs full of them.

What’s also good for you, and others like you is the fact that you have ‘real jobs’. Well, it’s both a good thing and a bad thing. It’s a bad thing because obvs it takes time away from you that could be used to make music, but it’s a good thing because you aren’t dependent on it to keep you afloat so you can take more liberties with your time and your music, and not worry about driving your record label bankrupt while they wait.

It also applies to the not really speaking of your work outside of the music you make even though it may be related in that it’s still in music. It does run the risk of weakening the impact of the music you make for yourself, if it starts to be associated with the more professional aspect of your life. I don’t know if that makes sense, but what I mean is that maybe music tastes the best, and is heard as the musician wants it to be heard, if the irrelevant associations are kept to a minimum. Or so I theorise.

I actually got home from work a little early (3 AM) and I’ve been wasting time on the interwebs with the cats looking happy that I’m home. I’m having the same feeling about getting back to work. I’m making up for the time that i was recording and sorting through HVG tracks. So now I’m back at  work doing exta hours this week and I miss Nancy already. I honestly got into this exclusively to create my own music but discovered that I was simultaneously good at the technical stuff and good with people, which is what producing music is mainly about. It’s a lot of pressure sometimes and being the engineer, producer and writing with people can be a little much sometimes. It’s a lot of hats to fit in my big stupid head. I’m not complaining as much as confiding. In a music journalist.

I obviously have boundary issues. 🙂

Both Nancy and I have always thought Sundays were sad, especially Sunday nights. Ever since we were kids.

It is weird how familiar shoegaze, in my case Cocteau Twins, sounded when I first heard them in Tower Records in the mid ’80s. It was one of those moments where something outside of you just seems to line up with what’s on the inside in a sudden shocking rush. When I went upstairs to the little window where they displayed what was being played, I saw it was The Pink Opaque. It was instantly familiar and utterly alien. I never realized that I was a ‘gazer till then (of course the term didn’t exist yet but the music sure did).

I think Ligeti is my choice of shoegazing classical music. I’d like to hear what you describe as shoegazing hip hop.

I know of almost nobody doing music that isn’t struggling in some way with the real job issue. I’m actually lucky to be out of the office and/ or retail environment and actually making a living doing it. As I said, I learned my craft doing my own work and I always thought I didn’t have the brain or heart space to work on other people’s stuff. But when I really got going in the situation I’m in now, I realized that it actually made my desires to actualize my own imaginings that much keener. It’s such an intense need to hear these songs come to life that I’m, beyond all logic, still doing it even through confusion and exhaustion. To have a moment like the night I wrote ‘Passenger’, standing in my underwear the living room, listening to the the demo I just recorded with the now familiar glowing guitar strums, swirling melodies, and thumping grooves, going “Now this is……amaze!” and waving my arms around. It tasted delicious and all irrelevant associations were completely forgotten.

Man I wish I could name shoegaze hip hop off the top of my head. I was thinking of how EJ Hagen of Highspire had told me about Kevin Shields being influenced by hip hop beats and how Highspire had also allowed them to affect the percussion on Aquatic. However by shoegaze influences in hip hop I mean hiphop tracks that have some of the stylings that make shoegaze shoegaze. I don’t think there are many that make use of reverb and distortion but there should be a few – probably from the 80s and 90s – that make use of the voice-as-instrument tactic which is my favourite part of shoegaze. Reverb and distort are secondary. I’m not really a fan of shoegaze where the voice stands out against the music which acts as just a backdrop. I like everything turned up equally and all instruments and vocals weaving in and out and around of each other.

My shoegazing classical music is a bit new – I was listening to it before I knew shoegaze though, but it’s the first instance of me being inexplicably drawn to a sound to the point that it broke my heart. Not because of the story behind it but because of just the way the music and vocals kept each other such equal company rising and falling and lifting each other up together. Gorecki is pretty mainstream by classical music standards I guess, but I remember it’s one of the few pieces of music my grandfather (a classical music buff) played when I was little that I just HAD to ask him about. I remember the conversation well.

Me: Nana, what is this music that’s playing?
Grandfather: It’s called ‘Symphony of Sorrowful Songs’
Me: (remember I’m little here) She sounds so sad. Why is she singing such a sad song?
Grandfather: Because she’s about to die, wouldn’t you sing a sad song if you were about to die?

At the time this made perfect sense, and it never occurred to me to ask why I would sing any song at all if I was about to die.Anyway my grandfather didn’t play Gorecki for a while (not as legit as Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, etc.) and it gradually slipped my mind till a few years later I started having a craving for it. I couldn’t remember the melody, I just remembered how it felt and I wanted to feel it again. It was a legit craving. So I searched high and low – I could only remember ‘sad songs’ but Google was around and clever and when I searched for ‘symphony sad songs’ VOILA.

And that’s one of my first shoegaze stories 🙂 You can see I tend to give away too much too.

That was a beautiful moment with your grandfather.

It’s fascinating how our love of music is connected to our memory. This Is Your Brain On Music has some very interesting insights on this. The music we love is constantly creating and violating our expectations as we perceive its slipping through time. Our delight at these moments imprints in various parts of our brains and can somehow reemerge after being long submerged.

My grandfather was a musician and I have many fond memories of him playing music. He showed me that the piano had a universe inside of it.

As I said, I really enjoy talking to you and I so value your interest and thoughtful approach. To be honest I’ve only really in the past year started engaging with people I’ve never met in person online so I get carried away easily in conversations sometimes.

I think you will enjoy several of our new tracks in which the vocals swim and frolic among the kaleidoscopic waves of noise.

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