ELEVATIONS and DEPTHS
CVLT Nation interviews LOCRIAN
CVLT Nation has had the honor to interview one our favorite bands, Locrian. To us this group of musicians transform sound into sonic cathedrals. This interview takes an in-depth journey into how they create the way they do. The only way to do them justice is let them speak for themselves. After the jump check out this totally superdelic Locrian interview…
You seem to take small sounds & expand them into bigger soundscapes…does this occur organically or do you do it consciously?
André: That’s a nice compliment. I think it happens both ways sometimes. We tend to start out smaller since it gives us more room to expand.
On the song “Triumph of Elimination” you have this haunting vocal mixed in a way that in sounds as if it’s being sung from the bottom of an ice cave. What effect did you want this vocal to have on the listener?
Terence: I think, most importantly, I listen to try and change textures. To try and make something I am interested in that is evocative of something else. I tend to always go towards more cavernous sounds, lots of reverb to try and effect the vocals, make them distant or larger than they are. I guess I just want them to sound like they’re in some sort of space.
When I listen to your new album The Crystal World I find that many of the songs have a balance between harmonic sounds & chaotic sounds. Is it important for Locrian to compose your songs that way?
André: I don’t think that a balance between harmony and chaos is essential, but it’s definitely something that happens. One of the ways that you can be creative is to change how elements are put together. I think by taking this approach it’s led us to take our music in some unexpected places, which is always essential to how we play music.
Terence: It really is about contrast, we tend to think about our own expectations and how to flip them. How a song can start off harsh and then become melodic or be a drone that suddenly has a beat.
What was your inspiration for the song “Elevations and Depths”?
André: We wrote that track entirely in the studio. We started with the twelve string guitar part that you hear at the beginning. The rest came about very naturally. I think we approached the rest of the song like we were trying to tell a story. By trying to do this is where we came up with the rest of the parts.
Terence: Yeah it just flowed, like we had this idea of like a mountain between two valleys, the softer acoustic and vocal intro that changes to the more intense dirge and evolves to a massive acoustic drone. Again it was all about contrasts and trying to do what we do in a different way, i.e. all acoustic at the end so that is only acoustic guitar, accordion and layers of violin with very little effects.
What is your outlook on these four sounds/concepts & what input do they have on what you create: feedback, drone, space & repetition?
André: I think that all of those concepts are tactics that we might use in order to create the sound that we are going for. Feedback can add an element of chaos and unpredictability to a track; droning and repetition can push the listener into a more trace-like state; and space is essential since it adds to the dynamics of the music.
Terence: We tend to use feedback and drones a lot, but we also try and stray away from the whole feedback drone sub-genres. I think actually space is what helps us, we’re always talking about the space something creates or the void is makes. Repetition is important, I think that is something I think about a lot with certain lines in a song. But I borrow it from Minimalism and krautrock I guess.
For me Locrian is very powerful & very emotive – how does this translate when you are performing live?
André: Thanks very much. Performing live is an emotional experience for me. When we play live recently, we have a certain amount of structure to the music that we’re playing, but there’s always an element of unpredictability.
Terence: I am never sure how it comes across. I have a lot of buttons to push and trying to remember to sing or scream kind of dominates my brain. And I always have to make sure I am listening to what my bandmates are doing because really we never know when something ends or another track begins.
André: Unpredictability is something that’s fun to play with. For instance, that’s one of the reasons why we like analog equipment and tapes. Although it’s a pain to use old analog equipment, there’s an element of surprise involved with the sound of this equipment that you can’t really produce digitally.
Terence: Like having your tape delay not work right as your about to go on. Or a Moog not want to tune.
Was there a place you wanted to go in The Crystal World that you had not gone before?
André: For one, this was our first recording with Steven. As much as some people categorize us as being a collaborative project, it’s really just been Terence and I for 90% of the time that Locrian performed before this record. We invited Steven to have equal input to the two of us in the creative process. So the percussion is definitely one thing that brought the record to new places for us.
I think that we took our time with “The Crystal World” more than we had with any other release.
Terence: I think it allowed us to do two things, create a narrative and also generate a long form response with disc 2. Both things we have wanted to do.
Locrian possess a shamanic & meditative energy at times, where do think this comes from?
André: A lot of our music is created intuitively and in order to do that we need to enter this trance-like state. The music becomes something that comes out and it becomes our job to shape it. I think that might be why it has a meditative quality. By the way, that’s very kind of you to say that our music has a shamanic and meditative quality to it.
Would you say you have a group of musical peers around you that inspire you & if so who are they?
André: Of course I’m inspired by a lot of our musical contemporaries. A lot of the stuff on Bloodlust! and Utech Records. We’re working on projects with two of our contemporaries that I respect a lot. We have a one-sided LP with Horseback coming out soon. In June, we will be recording a collaborative album with Mamiffer/House of Low Culture-Faith Coloccia and Aaron Turner. I feel really honored since I think that Mamiffer, House of Low Culture, and Horseback are some of the most exciting projects around.
Chicago has a bunch of really inspiring projects as well: Anatomy of Habit, Neil Jendon, Sun Splitter, and of course Steven’s groups like Pan-American and Haptic.
Although I do listen to a ton of metal and experimental music, I do have to regularly cleanse my musical palate with pop music though.
Terence: Definitely. We’re very fortunate to be in contact with some great bands, musicians from many genres. Like a lot of the Weird Records stuff that Pieter is putting out like Martial Canterel and Staccato du Mal gets my interest since I am a synth nerd. But also the underground black metal of Ash Borer and Velnias. I’d have to say locally Anatomy of Habit are perhaps one of my favorites for their intensity and sound and after them I’d put in a few like Del Ray, Oakeater, Monument. I’ve been really into this duo called Light Asylum from NYC, dark synth tones with like a super strong female vocalist.
Photo by Rik Garrett
What was the moment in space & time that you guys got together to start Locrian?
André: Terence and I started Locrian a little over five years ago. I guess we first practiced in a shitty practice space that I had on Chicago’s west side.
Terence: Had our first show in 2005, where we recorded our first CDR, at The Mutiny. And from there we just kind of went where we were invited. I would say our first serious recording was the “Plague Journal” 7″ for BloodLust! From then on things got more serious and we figured out a lot about what we wanted to do.
It could be anything, but what’s the most enjoyable part about being in this band?
André: I definitely like getting to be able to do the things that I’m interested in: being able to release music that we’re proud of in the format of our choice. I also like getting to meet musicians that I respect and other interesting people. I try to learn from every experience and I think that I’ve learned a lot from the experiences that I’ve had in this project.
Terence: The creative outlet, working with people I respect who bring interesting creative ideas to the table.
It seems that visual art (ex. your videos, lighting during your performances, album covers) is an extension of your music, could you explain how?
André: We try to make this a total experience and we are constantly working to push that for ourselves.
Terence: I am a visual artist so I spend a lot of time thinking about how things look, from the stage to the album covers. I work with a lot of other visual artists and to and tap people who I think are interesting, regardless of their status, to work with us. I think overall I am interested in the entire thing. Even though we live in this digitally mediated world where album covers tend to be after thoughts for the most part I often times buy albums because of their covers or check out a band because they made a video that appealed to me.
Any closing thoughts for the CVLT Nation readers?
André: Thanks for the support and thanks for writing about this kind of music.
CVLT Nation would like to Locrian & Utech Records for all of their support.
ALL Photos by Lenny Gilmore except where noted.