quinta-feira, 29 de junho de 2017

Hearts Called with The Holy Circle - An Interview

Vou iniciar pegando a perfeita auto descrição que o The Holy Circle atribui a si mesmo, algo como, eles seriam o Depeche Mode se David Gahan fosse uma mulher, ou se Karen Carpenter enveredasse pelos caminhos do synthpop, ou ainda, se Sade caísse de cabeça no shoegaze.

Assim pode ser descrição o trio The Holy Circle que debutou no início deste mês com seu primeiro disco. O álbum homônimo dá sequência ao Ep também homônimo lançado no ano passado e passeia de forma hipnótica por entre um fio que une o shoegaze, o synthpop e o dreampop, com toque acinzentados diga-se de passagem.

O The Holy Circle, é sexy, cerebral, dançante e escuro sem perder o charme em momento algum.

Sofisticação e elegância acima de qualquer suspeita.

***** Interview with The Holy Circle *****

Q. When did The Holy Circle start? Tell us about the history...
Erica-Terence and I had been talking about starting a new project for years, pretty soon after Unlucky Atlas disbanded, around 2010. I wanted it to be more vocal driven and was really anxious to do something where I had creative input. I contributed to several Locrian albums but, as a contributor and not a member, had no real voice in that. In 2015, Terence and I were both experiencing a lot of stress in our jobs and were feeling restless and finally ready to do something. Terence had several riff ideas on the Moog and Korg and my ideas for vocals were more pop and vocal forward. The song that really solidified that The Holy Circle was a new project was writing and recording the first version of “Basel” and posting the clip on Soundcloud. The next day we had so much positive feedback from friends that we knew it was the right thing to do. Nathan joined us a few months later. That same Soundcloud clip had piqued his interest in what we were up to. We knew him for several years through other bands and mutual friends.

Terence – I have a musical life in quadrants where I make experimental metal music in Locrian for over a decade, have my solo material that is more drone-electronic, and my power-electronics band Axebreaker. The Holy Circle is really for the pop side of my brain and began as sketches for songs that wouldn’t quite fit those entities. Plus after Unlucky Atlas, Erica and I were trying to get something off the ground. So, after our first tracks went up we had been friends with Nathan and admired his drumming in Silo Halo and Screen Vinyl Image and he expressed an interest in what we were doing. I knew because of our mutual influences with pop and shoegaze it would be a perfect fit and he had the idea of avoiding more electronic drums and using live drums with the synths. It just really worked.

Nathan – I had been a fan of Locrian and, also, Erica and Terence are just really great people. I loved the early Holy Circle tracks they posted, very lush and ambient, and figured I’d get some electronic pads and drum machines out. Then I kind of wanted to try going the exact opposite direction and put big, loud, very acoustic drums under all the synths. You worry, being a drummer, that being an oaf with sticks hitting things that you’re going to ruin the beautiful sounds they’re making, but with credit to them, it really ended up working out.

Q: Who are your influences?
Erica- I’m a huge Peter Gabriel fan. As someone who comes from a theater background, I appreciate his penchant for drama in his vocal and live performance. He was influential on several of our choices on the album. I grew up listening to Karen Carpenter because my mom played and sang Carpenters songs at weddings. I grew up thinking that she had the most beautiful, lush voice in the world and I really tried to emulate her sound on some of the vocal layers on the record. I also listened obsessively to “Pet Sounds” while we were recording this and those influences can be heard, too. Other influences on this album are Kate Bush, Judee Sill, Karin Dreijer, and Jean Richie.

Terence – I have really broad influences, I grew up listening to a lot of metal so bands like Sepultura and the grandiosity of Emperor were really influential to me. I think Sonic Youth and Einsturzende Neubauten were huge for me. The second CD in my house when I was young was Erasure’s “The Innocents”, and my parents’ didn’t like it, at that time CDs were a lot of money since they just came out. Erasure felt like church in a way, with that cover and just how over the top it felt. I realize now it made a big impression on me, and got me into Yazoo and Depeche Mode. When I was a teenager

I remember this interview with Bjork and she commented on what she saw as a perception of electronic music having no soul, and how wrong she felt that was. So for The Holy Circle though it was my love of synthesizer based bands or synthpop that I kept coming back to, like The Associates, Soft Cell, Ultravox, Depeche Mode, New Order and others that made me aspire to create something emotional with machines. To avoid guitars and attempt to make the electronics have a soul. I think bands like Xeno and Oaklander, Led Er Est on Weird Records encouraged this idea of the synthesizer as a DIY instrument that I really connected with.

Nathan – Lots of jazz drummers like Tony Williams. I taught myself to play drums playing to the Smashing Pumpkins records, so Jimmy Chamberlin for sure. I really admire Simone Pace of Blonde Redhead. But most of the music I listen to every day has sampled and programmed beats, which is influential of course, stuff like Suicide to Public Enemy.

Q. Make a list of 5 albums of all time…
Erica- It really depends on the moment and how I am feeling but right now I’ll say:

The Knife “Silent Shout”, The Beach Boys “Pet Sounds”, Kate Bush “Sensual World”, New Order “Movement”, Fleetwood Mac “Rumors”

Terence – Talk Talk’s “Spirit of Eden” / Earth “2” / Kraftwerk “Radioactivity” / Brian Eno’s “Music for Airports” / Skullflower “IIIrd Gatekeeper”

Nathan – I don’t know how to answer this but let’s say “Songs of Leonard Cohen”, Suicide’s “Way of Life”, The Cure’s “Pornography”, My Bloody Valentine’s “Loveless”, and Public Enemy’s “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back”.

Q. How do you feel playing live?
Erica- I grew up performing. When I was two years old, my parents had me stand on a plastic, knock-off Eames chair with a microphone on the church stage and sing “Jesus Loves Me” while my dad directed the choir and my mom played piano. I have always loved playing live but get extremely nervous right before the set; shaking, sweats. I start questioning everything I’m about to go on and do. I’m a perfectionist when it comes to my vocals so I have a hard time dealing with the idea of not cranking out my best. Once Terence starts droning on a chord and the lights drop, I can drift into my own world and just act through the songs. I’m most comfortable on stages where it’s dark, there’s dramatic lighting, and I’m not meeting eye-level with the audience so that I can have that fourth wall. After a set with those conditions, I feel like I just came out of a trance at the end of it.

Terence – I enjoy playing live, I enjoy where we extend and segue, blending songs. I hate stage banter, and really like crafting an experience. I think we find those spots in each set, we think about what should follow what, and where we should incorporate more improvisational moments or noise. I look forward to those moments.

Nathan – When you care about the music and the bandmates and you can be in the moment, it’s really the best.

Q. How do you describe The Holy Circle sounds?
Erica- This is probably the hardest question to answer because we’re so eclectic in our influences and our sound that it really can vary from song to song. I think the best way to describe us is like Depeche Mode if David Gahan was a woman or if Karen Carpenter joined a synth-pop band or if Sade got into shoegaze.

Terence – I think kind of shoegaze meets synthpop or dreampop. Really that is kind of where we are, but with a great drummer and vocalist.

Q: Tell us about the process of recording the songs ?
Erica- We already had all of the songs written except for ‘Hearts Called’ which was just a sketch. We had a pretty good idea of what we wanted to do but needed someone who could handle our instrumentation. A musician friend recommended J. Robins and I’m so glad we listened. Recording with him was such a positive experience for me. We would record a scratch take of my vocals so that Nathan and Terence could lay down drums and synths. Then I would start recording the lead vocal track and the layers. A lot of those vocal layers happened organically because J. was supportive of me going into the vocal booth and just trying ideas I had listening back to the lead. He has an excellent ear and he knew how to push me to do more or a better take.

Terence - I had known of J Robbins for a long time, when I was in high school I had copies of his band Jawbox on tape, and I would listen to it on my Walkman on the way to school. Decades later I moved to Baltimore and a lot of my friends in bands had great experiences with him. So I knew he was one of the best in town having recorded Roomrunner, Beach House and Coliseum to name a few. I also knew we weren’t exactly what he was known for, but I knew he’d do a great job with the drums and vocals, and he did so and more. It was a great process, we could really create around what we thought were the songs and he was always encouraging and giving us input. The songs really grew when we tried to nail them down for posterity.

Nathan – It was just such a comfortable experience all around. J got everything sounding great and made it so all we had to think about was playing. We did the drums first and everything on the record is the first or second take, it almost felt too easy. As Erica mentioned, ‘Hearts Called’ was a unique process, they sent me a demo with that brittle piano loop and whispery vocals and I had this silly idea of a big driving drum track as a kind of juxtaposition. We thought it worked and built the song in a day. That was cool! Terence all weekend while recording was pulling synth leads out of the air, god knows how. And Erica had the patience to put down so many amazing vocal takes and extra vocal layers, which are my favorite parts of the record when I listen to it now.

Q. Which new bands do you recommend?
Terence – I’ve been listening to a loft of the new Soft Kill, “Choke”, I was a big fan of Blessure Grave so it’s a logical extension of where that project was but with a more Chameleons twist. Uniform are amazing on record and live. Black Marble has essentially gotten me through this year. Curse, from Baltimore, is so impressive, they tour like beasts and their live set is inspiring and for a duo they make so much sound, it’s very melodic and abrasive. (Birth) Defects from our area too are on this noise-rock trip that is so interesting to see where they will go.

Erica – Thom Wasluck of Planning For Burial is spell-binding live and the album “Below The House” is really strong. Street Sects live set is so abrasive and disturbing. They fill the room with fog, run strobes and Leo Ashline walks around in masks and wigs with a chainsaw! It’s really challenging and it’s not for everyone but what they are doing instrumentally and performance-wise is so unique and special. Nathan turned Terence and I on to Aldous Harding and I am really digging what she is doing right now. She is so commanding and her voice and songs are so interesting. I love the way each song seems to be a different character and she changes her voice accordingly. Japanese Breakfast “Psycho Pomp” is just good indie rock with some shimmery, 80’s-esque moments that make me jealous that we didn’t think of them first.

Nathan – Speaking of Aldous Harding, Nadia Reid, also from New Zealand, has put out two terrific records. I’m really obsessed with Heather Woods Broderick’s music right now. Chelsea Wolfe, Emma Ruth Rundle. Austra, Trust, Xeno & Oaklander, Iamamiwhoami, and whatever Johnny Jewel is putting out.

Q: Which band would you love to made a cover version of?
Erica - I would love to cover a New Order song, specifically “The Him”. That song is so beautiful and hypnotic. I’m always game to cover some Fleetwood Mac but the world does not need another cover of “Landslide”. Terence always wants to do covers and I always poo-poo the idea but I did agree to cover Popol Vuh “Dort Ist Der Weg” with Locrian. I’m also pretty excited about our The Holy Circle cover of the Julie Cruise song “The Nightingale” for all of us geeking out over the return of “Twin Peaks”.

Terence – I always want to do covers. We did one recently from Julie Cruise for her song in Twin Peaks “The Nightingale”. But I too go back to the first New Order and think “Doubts Even Here” is a good one. I’ve always wanted to cover Iggy Pop’s “Mass Production”.

Nathan – “Ugly” by the Smashing Pumpkins.

Q: What are your plans for the future?
Erica-We’re ready to plan the recording of another The Holy Circle album. We’ve already written several new songs for it and started to play a few of them live.

Terence – Playing live to support this record and recording these tracks.

Q: Any parting words?
Erica- Thanks for asking us to do this!