[of] “electric dread” came to me after experiencing a bout of panic attacks a couple of years ago. The way I experienced them was through a bolt of terror that soon gave way to an overwhelming sense of dread that something horrible was going to happen. It would be impossible for me to get any work done in these moments, but I found they really didn’t occur if I was working on music. Not sure if that was a coincidence or not, but it pushed me to record more.
TBB: Do you have a favorite track to play live? A track that took the most time to come to completion?
AG: I really enjoy playing “Lost To The Max” live. I get to wear a lot of hats in that song, and each one of them is super-fun.
BF: Oooh, it’s sort of hard to choose! But, for me, I would say it’s “I Am Almost Perfectly Awake” with “Castling” a very close second. I really enjoy seeing what the reaction will be for “Castling,” but I always get excited to start “I Am Almost Perfectly Awake” as there is this ease to performing it, and it’s just fun to dance and sing to.
Andrew: The track that took the longest to complete was “Neon Black.” Surprisingly, every other song seemed to fall into place pretty quickly, but we wrestled with that song’s arrangement for a while before finding the one that worked. We don’t mind, though. We like to say that songs are like puzzles where you have to fashion the pieces to make them fit, so while the tough ones can be frustrating as hell, it’s so satisfying when you finally figure them out.
BF: Yeah, “Neon Black” was definitely the most difficult song to figure out. There was a point where Andrew seemed to be walking away from the song for this album, but I wasn’t having it! I knew the song really belonged with the others on the album and ended up being so happy with how it came out. That one was literally being finished between vocal takes.
TBB: I read in an interview that you are both fans of Vashti Bunyan. I think that the interplay between folk and electronic composition is interesting — both seem to have similar musical arcs. Does folk influence you?
BF: I’m definitely influenced by genres of music that are nothing like the music we make. There is something to analyze and use through every style of music: The undeniable beat of a hip hop song that you have to dance to, a classical or jazz song that can move you to tears without a word, to lyricists like Vashti Bunyun and others who can just gut you with their poetry. That lyrical element, I would say, is the greatest direct influence that folk has on our songwriting. We strive to make a song that on first meeting might just make you move, but with closer inspection and listening to the lyrics can create a deeper connection. I’d say more than any element of the music, the themes and lyrics are what we agonize over and rework the most.
TBB: I loved reading that you are both from the Peninsula, as I also grew up in San Mateo (and currently reside in South San Francisco). How do you think the communities you grew up in influenced the way you think about creation?
AG: That’s a funny coincidence as I grew up in San Mateo, and Bevin grew up in South San Francisco. For myself, San Mateo afforded me contact with the much more exciting and dangerous opportunities of San Francisco, while itself being crushingly dull and rigid much of the time. When I was growing up, you absolutely had to play a sport, and your place in the K-8 hierarchy was determined by your proficiency in sports. When I was starting high school, my friends and I would take Caltrain up to the Haight (where Bevin and I now live, coincidentally) to get stoned, walk around the park, and check out all the characters. Then, we’d come back to San Mateo where nobody I knew played an instrument, I wasn’t very athletic, and I had a lot of time to kill. I occupied much of that time by staying inside, reading comics, and drawing until I gained the confidence to try to play guitar like the musicians in the bands I loved. Once I crossed that threshold, then I met friends with the same tastes and drives as me, and life became less lonely and awful. I guess ultimately I’d credit boredom and a general distaste for most of my childhood peers with driving me towards music.
BF: My dad was born and raised in the City and growing up, I was always bitter that we ended up in South City. But getting some distance when I went away to college made me realize how much there was to appreciate about it. Despite it being a working class community, there were surprisingly a lot of opportunities to be exposed to the arts. I had a wonderful ballet teacher who developed a quality program through South City’s recreation department, incredible music teachers through the public school system that I learned so much from, and a community art center I could ride my bike to (before it got torn down to build more houses. RIP ArtRise). I remember when I got the chance to take a summer session at San Francisco Ballet School, I was so excited to get to dance in the City. But once I was there, I realized that there was a cutthroat mentality and undue pressure amongst the girls and we were only 13! That made me appreciate the more supportive and fun approach to being creative I was able to experience in South City.
TBB: Are there creative ideas or techniques you are hoping to explore in the future? What can we expect next?
AG: I’ve spent a lot of time focusing on programming and sequencing, and I feel like I’ve only just scratched the surface. So, I’m looking forward to diving deeper into that. At the same time, I’m feeling a compulsion to understand the guitar better. It’s a strange feeling, because I’ve never aspired to be a guitar virtuoso and even reveled in my ignorance for awhile, and now all of a sudden I want to shred. Bevin will certainly keep me from anything too over the top, but we’ll have to wait and see what develops. You can expect a lot more music, though, as we are always writing and will be spending July & August developing those ideas before we head out on a West Coast tour in September and then a European tour in October.
BFF.FM presents: NRVS LVRS, The Dead Ships, vverevvolf
Bottom of the Hill
June 30, 2017