Interview conducted by Todd
Recently I reviewed the excellent collaboration between Locrian and Mamiffer. Bless Them That Curse You is easily one of my favorite new releases this year and I can't wait to get my hands on the tape and vinyl releases. I was super excited when I was told I would get to send interview questions in regards this project. I had an unexpected surprise when I received the interview back. Members of both groups participated in answering my questions. So, before I post the interview, I just wanted to say thank you to André, Terrence and Steven of Locrian and to Faith of Mamiffer for taking time out of their very busy schedules to participate in this interview.
BS: How did this collaboration come together? What brought your 2 groups together?
André: Aaron and I had been trading music with each other for a while. Utech Records organized a festival last year. Both of our groups had released stuff on Utech and were scheduled to play the fest. So Mamiffer were in the Midwest for the first time and we discussed playing some shows or recording together.
Aaron and I kind of put together the puzzle pieces for this recording to happen. We got some really nice label support for us to record in our preferred location (Electrical Audio) and that really helped us to make this release so special. It wasn’t like we were doing some remote collaboration. We wrote and recorded this stuff in person and that’s one of the things that makes this release unique.
BS: Is there any unifying theme that flows throughout Bless Them That Curse You?
André: Musically, I wanted to pair up a lot of heavy electronics with heavy acoustics and that was one of the things that pops up throughout the album.
Terence: I think conceptually there were these ideas about the power of nature being conjured. Storms and their kind of mystic power. There are samples from hail storms, and I tried to blur my vocals to be like coming from within the storm.
Faith: I can also see our experimentation and openness to get to know one another through sound and abstract ideas as a common thread running through each song.
Steven: Yes, weather, nature, travel, friendship/relationship, and the mutual desire to create something special, with emotional content.
BS: What were your inspirations for this album?
André: I know that we were all really excited about the mellotron and the grand piano. I think that I was partially inspired by the Current 93 “Baalstorm, Sing Omega” album as well as King Crimson’s “Islands” album.
Terence: Musically it was loads of Goblin, King Crimson and Pete Sinfield.
Faith: The grand piano was a big inspiration for me, and the ideas, sounds and feelings of Alvin Lucier, Jonathan Coleclough, Swans, Blixa Bargeld's solo piano work and Alex Barnett's solo work. Playing with Locrian was an inspiration. Insecurity, nervousness and doubt were also great motivators.
Steven: The crazy weather that the mid-west was experiencing at that time. Cormac McCarthy's "Child of God", which I had just finished reading around that time. I believe I was listening to quite a bit of William Basinski then too. Just being in the studio with everyone involved, talking, tossing ideas around, and recording was pretty inspiring.
BS: What were the sessions like for this collaboration? Did they flow easily or were there any hurdles?
André: They were easy considering the obstacles we had to work with. We originally planned to practice outside of the studio a few times before we recorded. There was a big storm the night before the recording so that prevented Mamiffer from getting to Chicago so a pre-recording practice wasn’t possible. We met Mamiffer in person on the day that we recorded.
I was so excited about the project that morning, but at the same time, I felt a lot of pressure on me since we had some labels supporting the project, which wasn’t cheap so I didn’t want the recording to turn out badly. So, we spent a few exhausting days in the studio and then Mamiffer finished up some things on the West Coast. The days in the studio were smooth considering both our internal and external pressures.
Terence: Yeah I think it started high pressure and it was quickly relieved once we got working. We didn’t really have a ton of time to dwell on what we were doing, things either worked or we could crack the code so we scrapped that. It was a hard way to work but everyone was fully invested.
Faith: There was some pressure of the unknown, like the question "what if we make something terrible, and a label generously funded our ideas....?" so there was that fear. But when we all meet each other, and started working together everything felt great, and our aesthetics and conceptual ideas matched very well. Everyone was very honest and upfront, and that made communication and recording easier. The mixing process toward the end was difficult. We had a time constraint and a budget constraint, and we would mix a song and send it to the different members of Locrian and have to wait around in the studio until they got back to us after hearing the tracks. We couldn't start on a new song while waiting because of the way the console and live mix were set up. But we all worked it out even though we went a day longer than planned. It was for the best.
BS: Any plans for any other collaboration between your two camps?
André: That would be great if it could happen, but I’m not optimistic that such a follow-up would be possible in the near future due to our other obligations as a group and due to our geographical limitations. Lately, we’ve taken on too many obligations as a group and that has been challenging on all of our personal lives. Our plans for the near future are to limit our obligations and not to rush things. Right now, our efforts will be focused on making the album that we’ve always wanted to make as a group.
Faith: I think that would be great in the future, but for now I think we are over loaded with new projects and writing a new full length. It is a nice option to have for the future though.
Steven: A future collaboration of some sorts would be great, either as a group, or individually, in some way or another. Who knows what the future holds.
BS: Did you take anything away from this experience that you will apply toward future works?
André: Oh yeah. I learned so much from working with Mamiffer. They are all phenomenal musicians. Their approach to the creative process was unique and I learned a lot from that. We’re all better musicians for working with Mamiffer on this project.
Terence: I am not the biggest fans of collaboration, I am already under pressure working with the two guys I’ve been working with for years and adding people to the mix adds more. But I learned a lot of patience but also just how to accept where a track is and move on, make decisions faster.
Faith: yes, I learned so much from this whole process. Mostly about communication and following up on ideas. I also learned to have more of my own voice in this process whereas before doing this project I left a lot of the talking up to Aaron(Turner). I was afraid of my voice falling flat and not being able to communicate in an understandable way. Talking to Locrian every day and discussing abstract ideas in word form was really great practice for me. I also feel like I have made 3 great new friends.
Steven: Most definitely, recording this album I experienced another new approach to writing and creating music, which is always a good thing. Communication and patience are golden. Coffee saves lives, and a snare drum converted into a room mic works for louder music as well.
Photo of Locrian and Mamiffer taken by Rik Garrett