Wednesday, August 24, 2005

TVHH Q&A pt.1


the very hush hush







This interview was conducted by Steve Seigel during the spring and summer months of 2005 before the release of Mourir C'est Facile...


You said that both of you were classically trained pianists. I know that it is difficult to provide any cogent theory on how classical music influences current, non-classical compositions. But in your case(s), the grandiose process of recording Mourir C'est Facile seems, from what I can gather, to be rather orchestral in scope, what with the layers upon layers of instrumentation (you mentioned, in fact, an "orchestral aesthetic"). Are there any composers or even specific pieces that proved influential, either while you were studying piano or currently? If so, what specifically drew you to those pieces, and has it played a significant role in how you write music?


The most influential classical composer for me is Claude Debussy - 'Claire de Lune', 'Jardins Sous la Pluie', 'Arabesque', 'Sarabande'-- his in large part because the instructions on how to perform a song are given poetically out of form. Not pianissimo , but quietly, like the first raindrops of an approaching thunderstorm , or suddenly forceful as crashing waves upon a ruined cathedral . John Cage said once that in his music and in his life he endeavored to find perfect silence; his search led him to a soundproof chamber, where, much to his horror and frustration he found that the human heartbeat is inescapable--when all other sound is removed, the heart beats in your ears. Debussy encapsulates the layering of aural imagery upon imagined silence to a degree that is crystalline. His melodies ring in your ears long after they have ceased, such as Cage's inescapable heartbeat.

I let silence do the majority of the work, only providing notes and layers and textures where the absence of sound is subsequently enhanced. A screaming note is only powerful once it has stopped.


Anything written for piano by Hovhaness - East meets West. Lot's of Chopin growing up. Romantic through and through. Debussy, of course. I completely adore 'Jardins Sous la Pluie'. It is all about when the song suddenly transcends its natural tendencies and segues into an absolute sublime silence. The transition is nothing short of amazing.

Couperin for the Spring. And then Bach in the hotter days. It seems like I was always playing Preludes and Fugues in the summer. As far as sheer listening enjoyment, I like Henryk Gorecki. When I'm feeling down I will play Symphony 3 over and over again. Somehow this is uplifting although the music is sadder than anything you have ever heard before.

I've recently fallen in love with Alfred Schnittke's 'Psalms of Repentance'. Shifting voices, sudden key changes, and very, very dark/disturbing.

We are also entranced by Gas's Pop. This was almost always playing continuously for a period of two years in our old haunt. Now we're enjoying Basinski's Disintegration Loops. But really, nothing comes close to Gas's, Pop.

"This time TVHH logged several thousand hours of production, bouncing down hundreds of tracks into an improbable singularity, approaching the brink of insanity in the process." I'm an aspiring filmmaker myself so I understand the addictive, self-destructive, and often insanity inspiring process of working with creative, organic materials within a digital context. Can you give a little more insight into what happened when you neared "the brink of insanity"? Hallucinations? Soothsaying visions? What about the idea of revealing "a schism between the terrifying and the sublime" in your music? I wanted to know if that schism was revealed, and if so, how, during the recording process.


I've always felt that the most important music is that which provides the listener with a certain space within which they navigate, lost, looking for something. The best music is characterized, almost singularly I think, by longing. The terrifying part of the recording process was losing myself in a landscape that was undefined and indiscriminate, amorphous and hungry, and trying to shape it into something tangible. The tension is in creating a space and then finding your way out of it, somehow preserving the experience for others.

I find each song we write to be an expression of a moment, specific in its emotionality, yet maddeningly vague. For something so subjective as emotion, how can you ever really say, 'this is what murderous rage feels like,' or 'everyone's grief is the same color'?


I did feel at times like I was losing a piece of my sanity during the recording and producing of Mourir C'est Facile . Some of the tracks we worked on had hundreds of overdubs, all in the name of making the perfect little noise buried beneath 40 other tracks of distorted strings. Maybe it got out of control. Really, the album was taking over everything in my life. Sometimes I would just sit and produce for days at a time. After a while I would get pretty strong audio/visual...



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12:20 PM  

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