[laughter] Amitai sings, I control most of the music and the song structure, and Matt is just a total whiz at any instrument, so he just plays whatever the song needs — percussion, guitars, basically any instrument.
AH: We can just hand him anything and he’ll play it. I think anyone interested in performing electronic music struggles with the idea of how to make the performance engaging when the source of your sound is the computer, so, thatâ€™s where Matt comes in.
TBB: Tell me about the silent films you will be live-scoring on Tuesday.
LS: They’re actually not silent films at all, although we’ve watched them so many times with the sound off. They’re just short experimental films.
AH: One of them is an educational safety film from the seventies.
TBB: I remember seeing an old OSHA safety advert about how not to get smooshed by heavy things in a warehouse.
AH: No, this one is more about how not to slip and fall in a factory, with obstacles and stuff. [laughter] And another one is pretty famous, “A Trip to the Moon” from the early 1900s. People know it from [the Smashing Pumpkins’] Melancholy and the Infinite Sadness.
TBB: How do the film scores differ from your main Water Borders efforts?
LS: In this setting, we’re trying to make something where the music isn’t the main focus and doesn’t distract too much from the films. And when we play live shows or record, we want people to be focusing intently on the music and not us, so that’s different.
AH: Also, this music is a lot more playful than the stuff we recorded for our album.
TBB: Can we expect slap-stick sound effects, like boi-oi-oi-oings?
AH: Yeah. There’s one that’s all boi-oi-oi-oings. Essentially. [laughter]
TBB: Your debut LP, Harbored Mantras, was already recorded when Matt joined. Did he help you score the soundtracks?
LS: Yeah, everything we’ve done since then, composition-wise, has been collaborative.
TBB: What’s the ratio of analog to digital processes in your music, because it sounds more physical to me than just machine-generated.
LS: Definitely more digital, but a lot of it is sampled sounds.
AH: Most of the sounds were originally sourced by acoustic instruments and then manipulated. So that’s why the tones are a little more unique than some of things you can accomplish through synthesis alone.
TBB: Your music is oftentimes described as “disturbing,” which I find interesting because while it definitely sets a mood and may be “dark”, I don’t find it disturbing at all. It’s actually very pretty to me at times…
LS: We’re not disturbing you?
[A Will & Grace
ring-tone goes off and Amitai answers his cell — “It’s the ‘other guy’. Matt’s here.” However, Matt never joins us in the living room. Shy, indeed.]
AH: I think when people say it’s disturbing they mean it as a compliment, don’t you think? Like, “Oh, your music disturbed me.” They think it’s flattering to us.
LS: I think they think that’s what we want to hear. Like, “Good job, your music disturbed me.” [laughter]
AH:Yeah I think that’s the constant frustration for anyone who is having their music interpreted. You know, you make this thing and spend a lot of time on it, not really doing it to fit into some kind of niche — youâ€™re just trying to make something that speaks to you. In order to sell that and comodify that, people feel the need to add adjectives.
TBB: Yeah, people love to lump you into the so-called “Witch House” movement — which isn’t even a movement at all, but something some blogger made up somewhere and it kind of stuck.
AH: Yeah that’s definitely true.
LS: I’m not gonna lie, we’ve definitely thought about this quite a bit.
AH: I mean, if people like our music and want to call us that, I’m not gonna freak out because we’re being misinterpreted. It has very little to do with our intention behind the music. Whatever, it’s just another thing to call something. I know some people who despise being called that, but I don’t care.
LS: Witch House is totally real, though. It’s one of those crazy post-modern things that only exists on the internet, but is a part of people’s lives. I don’t mean to belittle it in any way.
AH:I feel the same way.
TBB: What’s the story behind your name?
AH: It’s not really a story.
LS: We are major pun freaks. When we think of song titles, we just throw puns at each other for hours until something thatâ€™s kind of funny, but also serious, comes up.
AH: The origin of the name Water Borders isn’t interesting, but I think the meaning is. International water borders is like a comedic concept to me, even more so than state borders — demarcating something that inherently you can’t do that to because it moves around, you know? To me, it reflects nicely on some of the ideas behind what we’re trying to do sonically.