Interview with Stag Hare (December 2015)
1. What are some recent inspirations?
Musically: Jerry Garcia Band
, Basic Channel
, John Serrie
, the music that plays at the massage school I’ve been attending, much of which I am never able to figure out what it is but is often so dope. Often it is classical Raga type stuff, other times more new age synth sounds…
other stuff: deep space nine
, gods and radicals blog
, andrew alba
2. How would you describe your relationship to song titles in your work? Your titles somehow give me the impression that the music is part of a greater cohesive world with characters and stories, but the details are withheld (maybe I’m just projecting or maybe it’s not necessary to know)
I love that you say this, I personally do feel that the music does relate to an interconnected world with all sorts of characters and places and stories…. the song titles to me are really important to help set a context for the music and create the most effective gateway into that world as possible. It’s definitely a trick to convey enough to get the mind thinking and the imagination running without giving away too much. Maybe that world needs all different types of listeners with their own projections and imaginations fleshing out those details collectively….
3. Most of your songs have a drone in them. How do you approach making a new drone and having it feel fresh?
This is something I am always trying to figure out. How DO I keep things sounding fresh…. I’m not so sure. Usually I try different approaches, different instrument and/or processing, different methods to try to come up with something fresh, but usually by the time the song is finished I’ll just sort of instinctively go in at some point and lay down the “right” drone which ends up being there more as a functional spine to the song then anything. So, I’m not so sure I really succeed at keeping the drones fresh, I pretty much make them the same as I always have, a mix of guitar and delay mainly.
4. Has having a child changed your perspective on your relationship with sounds? How does Sebastian engage with sound and music?
Well, its maybe sharpened my focus, brought me closer to the relationship I have always strived for, which is something that’s hard to articulate. I’m very conscious of Sebastian as a listener and as an observer now, and he’s almost like this new presence in the stag hare music world which keeps a certain integrity just through the act of observing. He makes me want to make a certain energy/sound more than ever which sometimes I think I’ve successfully achieved, and other times its sort of just taking its time rambling around the adjacent territories. But I know where the center point is..
He loves music, he loves to dance and gets really excited by anything with a good groove. He’s the best audience I’ve ever had. and he also loves to make music himself, he plays around on (literally sometimes, on top of) my acoustic guitar which I have tuned to an open tuning… he plays around on all the different hand drums I have laying around and shakers and such. Lately I’ve been playing my wooden flute to him and he loves that and does his best to play but hasn’t really figured it out yet. He also will pick up a microphone if its around and sing into it, so we jam together that way sometimes. He seems to have a pretty natural instinct towards music which blows me away and makes me feel more responsibility to give him good sounds to live in.
5. What are some of your favorite distortion sounds in 5 songs?
Not sure I can answer that without digging through tracks and getting too carried away and spending hours trying to find exactly the right songs to express my taste in distortion. Off the top of my head I’ll say
My Bloody Valentine - Sometimes
was one of the first songs I remember being obsessed with the distortion sound.
Spectrum - Hey Man
Maybe the first song with distortion is still maybe some of the best sounding distortion to me which is Marty Robbins - Don’t worry
Daft Punk - Rollin and Scratchin
The really fuzzy buzzy sounds used in the late 60s I like a lot but can’t think of a specific song….
6. Do you have mental images that you associate with your songs? Do these images evolve as you’re working on a song? Do they evolve after it’s finished?
If I have mental images they are like dream images in that they are multi faceted and tend to shift if you look too closely. I mean, the sounds themselves tend to create a mental image, so yes, but not something specifically tangible. One thing that I’ve been noticing is that if I revisit a song the mental impression does tend to be pretty close to how it was when I made it, but maybe with some development, so in a way they evolve, and in a way they don’t.
7. Which Grateful Dead bootleg might get the nay-sayers onto the other side of the fence?
Well, I dunno that I care too much about convincing anyone to like something they don’t feel compelled to like, it seems things work best when we can find our own special places, or at least I tend to prefer it that way. Besides, plenty of folks are pretty well camped out on this side of the fence. But that said, I’ll say I’ve been really into Jerry Garcia Band lately.
Current fav: Jerry Garcia Band 11/23/77
so so good. I highly recommend that show.
Otherwise, there’s just so much material and different eras, some people swear by ‘77, others '72, I’ve been super into '76 and spend a lot of time in '89 though lots of people think I’m crazy. I’d say the “drums” and “space” in the late 80’s onward is my fav, more weird samples and digital trippy drum sounds. Idk, you could do worse than to check out maybe one of the most classic shows which is 5/25/74 Campus Stadium in Santa Barbara.
I’m certainly nowhere in the ballpark of being an expert though. But this person has lots to say: http://www.deadlistening.com/2011/03/1974-may-25-uc-santa-barbara.html
8. Do you have any favorite practices or rituals (using the term loosely) to set a positive tone for the day?
I don’t worry too much about setting a tone for the day, more so I work on accepting and navigating the tones I find present, which in my life tend to oscillate pretty regularly in seeming total disregard to my intentions or will. Ideally this involves having space to follow my intuition. My intuition will tell me what type of pace, activity etc and that usually leads to the most satisfaction.
I feel very strongly about having that ability to follow basic intuitive practices at their proper pace and time, which for me is definitely a certain ritual. I want all of my activities to exist within or around this ritual ideally. However, this is not something that is always possible.
9. Geek question: What kind of synths have you been using the last few years?
I dont really have any synths at the moment…..
I have a Korg Monotribe which you can hear more in my Ariel
stuff than Stag Hare….
other than that some soft synths…
Korg Ms-20Korg Legacycell
just borrowed an Akai Miniak this last week actually and am having fun with that. Not a lot of knobs but good sounds.
10. Words of wisdom you like to recall in times of need?
How sweet it is to be loved by yo u
Stag Hare is Willow Skye-Biggs, who released the expansive ambient collection, Tapestry
, now available from the Inner Islands Bandcamp page.