(This interview is unedited because grammar only adds character, for realsies!)
1. Tell us who you are and your role in the band?
Hi my name is James Alexander Graham and my favourite colour is red and i like horse riding! i write the lyrics and try my best to sing.
2. The Twilight Sad, where did it all begin for you guys?
i met andy(guitar,piano,accordion,noise) at school and mark(drummer) lives at the bottom of his street. we formed some shite covers bands when we were in school with some friends. we left school and got into proper music and one day andy met our bass player orzel at a bus stop and asked him to join the band. we played 2 gigs in two years and made a demo. we sent it to fatcat records… they liked it and came to see us on our third gig and signed us.
3. I find it sometimes difficult trying to classify your sound to friends - I hear shoegaze at times, because I find that is a genre that melts together beauty and noise with more precision than gets credit. How would you describe the sound your band tries to achieve?
i also find it hard to describe our sound, some people would describe it as shite i suppose. we like to think that when you strip the songs back they are basically folk songs, as they are about where we stay and people we know and things that have happened to us. then we just layer them up with noise and as many instruments and sounds to make them larger and more of a soundscape affair. so i would say the next time a friend asks you could say folk/noise/experimental/doom rock/alternative shite?
4. I read that your upcoming album will differ a fair amount from Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters, did something make you feel a need to move away from it?
its hard to say at the moment because we are still mixing the record. i dont think its going to be a massive change in direction, it just feels like we have moved on and the song writing has improved. the songs on the first album were the first we had ever properly written and that was two to three years ago. we have grown up and things have changed in our lives and we have changed as people, so the music will be affected by this. we still dont write conventional verse/chorus songs and you will still be able to tell its us. this album will be a lot heavier/noiser than the last but also more melodic. the lyrics will be dark but mabye not as obvious as the first in some cases. the songs are stories and reveal themselves as they go on!
5. I find your music to be perfectly fitting winter music, talk a little about what the atmosphere is like surrounding your band (the studio, the stage, your hometown).
well we live in the countryside and not in glasgow as many people seem to think. i live in a small town called banton with 5 streets and its surrounded by farms and lochs. the rest of the band stay about 3 miles away from me in a place called kilsyth which is quite similar and our bass player stays in a place called cumbernauld which was voted the worst town in britian for two years running at one point.. the reason our music fits with winter is probably because it feels like winter nearly all the year round here. its either raining,snowing,really windy or dull most of the time. i dont like hot weather either so that might be in my subconscious when i write. we write at home and rehearse in a local pig farm where the farmers wife makes us hot scottish broth(soup) at lunch time. we rehearse in a nice log fired room away from the pigs so it dosent smell thank fuck!
6. Do you guys have any sort of habitual process with making a song?
usually andy writes some music and gives it too me and i write my parts. he arranges it then we got to the farm with the rest of the band to work on it and develop the ideas. andy then makes a rough demo and experiments with different sounds and instruments. then when we go into record it properly we know the song inside out and can experiment on it even more.
7. You guys have shared the stage with some well known bands (Smashing Pumpkins, Snow Patrol, etc), what's one of the more stand-out, exciting shows?
the smashing pumpkins were arseholes as they made us stand outside the venue until 30mins before the doors opened while they soundchecked. think they were scared that we would steal thier ideas, which we wouldnt cause they arnt even the smashing pumpkins anymore and that last record was rubbish. we loved touring with beirut and mogwai. mogwai are a band that we all really respect and they treated us brilliantly and we are all good friends now. we also enjoyed the company of battles and idlewild. the snow patrol gig was a bit wierd because it was in the 02 arena, although we know gary from the band and he is a big fan of the band. i think it was about half full when we played and it was a great experience. to be honest to play venues like that is something that i would never hope for our band. i didnt enjoy how it felt like a big buisness affair and not a gig, i would die a happy man if we got to play places like the barrowlands in glasgow for the rest of our lives.
8. Is there a typical Twilight Sad fan? Do you see what you'd expect when you look into the crowd?
our friend gareth once said to us "you defintly have the arab strap crowd" at a gig in edinburgh as they watched the support band who were a little more upbeat than us and the crowd gave them little or no reaction. i would say its usually 20-50 year old males who take thier unwilling girlfrends to the gig and stand and nod their heads. i love the fact that we dont have arsholes as fans! normal people who enjoy good music and not people who love one band one moment and then another five minutes later. i think what i am saying is that they are very loyal!
9. Are there any bands/artists you dream to work with some day?
No! happy being in the twilight sad writing and playing music with my friends!
10. Are there any influences in your music you've taken from where you've been in the world?
No! get to see the inside of gruppy venues and the inside of tour vans. we write when we are at home and nowhere else. i think more than anything we have learned we cant write on the road more than anything.
11. There's a lot of (literally) visually masked imagery with your band, could you explain the significance?
we like to leave our imagery to the listeners own imagination and let them take what they want from the artwork and music and lyrics.
12. Are there any guilty pleasures of the band? Any Lady Gaga records sitting around?
ohh loads! lady ga ga,take that,girls aloud,britney bitch and abba! i like a bit of elton john too! there is nothing better than a good pop song! 80's hair metal. just because we write dark depressing songs dosent mean we dont like shite songs now and again. my girlfriend and i listened to celine dion "think twice" the other day, its probably the most epic song i have ever heard!
13. Are there any records that have served as a big influence for the band over the years?
not really. there are albums we love, but we never sit down and go this album should influence this song and so on. nothing is completely original these days but we try not to think of other music/bands when we write and think about what the song needs as originally as possible.
14. After a tour, what makes you happy to go back home?
my own bed, rubbish tv, great films and rubbish films, home cooking, friends and family! my cat and the swann inn(my local pub)!
15. What keeps you all busy when you're not making music?
all of the above in that last question!
16. How is the new album coming, and when can we expect its release?
its coming along great! we have finished tracking all the songs and are in the mixing process just now. currently coming up with album/song titles and artwork just now. sorting out how we are approaching the release touring/singles/release date ect. we will release a single in the first half of the year and the album and another single in the second then an ep late this year into next.
A big thanks to James for the great answers, and we can't wait for what the band has in store for us in the future!
(this interview is unedited ‘cause I’ve gots to keep it real)
1. What was growing up like for you?
Growing up for me was much like any other kid, I think. I lived in Edmonton and was a pretty average kid. I went to school, enjoyed sports, played video games... it wasn't until much later in my childhood that I discovered that I was the symbiotic host for a trans-dimensional, extra-terrestrial being who calls himself Doctor Sung. It was a pretty huge shock, but it explained most of the long periods where I'd black out and wake up to find myself behind a keyboard wearing a pylonic mask and spandex suit.
2. When did music enter your life?
I've always had a passion for music, but I didn't play music for a long time. I guess I was a bit of a late bloomer. I didn't start playing music until about 5 years ago when I picked up the drums in high school. A couple years after that I started up with piano, and now I'm very involved with both instruments. Doctor Sung, however, invented groove, so that part of me has been involved with music for millennia.
3. There aren't too many bands that openly claim to be from outer space, besides GWAR, what's the appeal of having elaborate alter egos?
Though I'm not consciously a part of Tupper Ware Remix Party and have never technically seen them live, I think that I understand the appeal of their space-get-ups and space-personalities. When people see a band that is seemingly from outerspace and dressed up like TWRP is, it really breaks down barriers with the crowd, and they throw their inhibitions to the wind. I think that is a big asset for a band whose purpose is to get people to dance and have fun.
4. You go by Doctor Sung in Tupperware, where did this character come from? any sci-fi influences… or influence of any other form for that matter?
In this dimension, my symbiotic partner chose to name himself Doctor Sung, after a Chinese doctor from a communist pamphlet. He believed that it was suiting, because he wanted to bring the power of the funk to the people. Havve Hogan realized himself during an 11 day peyote binge and Stone LaChismo was a former porn star and professional wrestler before his conscription into the annals of musical history...
5. How did it all start with Tupperware, did you guys just know each other and decide to make some music?
Two words: The Bible
But seriously, we found a burning outhouse in rural Manitoba, which was actually their trans-dimensional space capsule. Check our myspace pictures...
6. Besides keys for this band, you also play drums for Gamma Gamma Rays – can you distinguish a preference between the two?
I have a lot of fun playing with Gamma Gamma Rays - I've been playing with Mark and Scott pretty much since I first started playing drums. It's something that is very organic and we write by just jamming it out. But Doctor Sung also has a whole lot of fun playing with Tupper Ware Remix Party - I imagine it's hard not to, considering the ridiculous nature of the music they play, and the way they dress and act. Both bands are extremely fun.
7. I've found the quality of your Tupperware Remix Party recordings exceptional for what you'd except from an indie side-project, where and how did your guys' record your CD?
Tupper Ware Remix Party actually recorded the "Sex Is A Machine That Likes To Dance EP" only a few months after they crash landed on Earth. They recorded live with local wizard and modern gentleman Andrew Wiseman in his old basement studio and it turned out great.
8. What's your most fun show to date in whichever band?
My intrinsic emotional connection with Doctor Sung tells me that the most fun ever was TWRP's first show... it was a sketchy set at a small place in Cole Harbour, and there were probably 15 people there, but all 15 minds were blown. The reaction was super encouraging, and it just felt right.
9. Are there any bands/artists you dream to play with some day?
And Daft Punk.
And the Starland Vocal Band.
10. Who's the most exciting band you've shared the stage with?
Tupper Ware Remix Party playing with Ruby Jean and the Thoughtful Bees and You Say Party! We Say Die! was super exciting. I wish I could have seen it.
11. You've done some touring with Gamma Gamma Rays, what makes you happy to come back to your hometown?
Well see that's the thing, I actually haven't done any real touring. We've played a number of out of town shows, but haven't yet done a full out tour. That will likely be rectified this summer, in conjunction with the completion of our next release.
12. What keeps you busy when you're not making music?
Tinkering with aeroplanes, making homemade sausage and counting particles of dust. Also video games, socialism, friends, girls, and NSCC.
13. Your taste in music must be pretty eclectic, are there any records that really stand out for you, that you keep coming back to after months or even years?
For serious, the album that means more to me than anything is The Shape Of Punk To Come by Refused. The mix of extreme politics, crazy musicianship, electronica and the conviction of hardcore punk was absolutely mind blowing to me. It changed my life and made me want to make a difference. It's also because of Refused that I started playing music in the first place. I also once had a Daft Punk-induced epiphany a couple years ago, so I'd say their album Discovery is very special to me too.
14. Do you plan to stay put in Nova Scotia for a while or would you like to be somewhere else?
That's a bit of a conundrum. Nova Scotia is so small, yet is so fertile with great music. Because of that, musicians and the like are always bumping into eachother unexpectedly, making it a really tight knit community. I think it's a great place to start out, but I could see myself going elsewhere with bands when the time is right.
15. What can we expect from Gamma Gamma Rays and Tupperware Remix Party in the near future?
Well, both Gamma Gamma Rays and Tupper Ware Remix Party have recently undergone kickass line-up changes, which means both bands will be recording again very soon. In fact GGR just received a grant to record a full length, which is very exciting. TWRP will also be recording again soon with Andrew Wiseman... word also has it that he has been experiencing the same black outs that I experience, coming-to with a guitar in his hands and a spandex jumpsuit on...
Definitely awesome things are afoot though, so I suggest that everyone keep up to date with our websites for news and songs and pictures and the like:
Big thanks to Jorin for taking the time for some great answers!
Kumi Okamoto (aka Kumisolo) is a Japanese musician who has been associated with the French scene her whole life, along with any other scene willing to let her play. She’s collaborated with the likes of Scottish musician Momus, French glitch-poppers o.lamm and Domotic, and many more. Nowadays when she’s not making films or doing work with fashion she gets time to create the odd infectiously cute pop song, let’s hope she keeps them coming! She took some time to share the love for her international fans with an interview:
(This interview is semi-edited ‘cause I keeps it semi-real)
1. I'd love to know more about your background, what was growing up and going to school like for you?
I'm actually a film student at the university of Paris 8 and I’ve made some short movies. When I was in Japan at Tokyo, I learned French for 4 years and I had a band called Crazy Curl, with my friend Saori.
2. Have you taken any lessons in music or are you self-taught?
I took piano lessons from 6 to 12 and I started to play trumpet at 9 years old at school. But a basic pop composition is self-taught.
3. It's undeniable you're a true lover of pop, how did you find this in yourself?
I’ve loved pop music since I was a little girl. My mother listened the Temptations, the Supremes etc. I loved popular female singers in Japan (Seiko Matsuda, wink).
4. Who are some musical influences that have always meant something special to you?
5. When did you begin to record music? Was it on your own or already in a studio?
I had a music teacher when I was a high school student who asked us to make a song with lyrics that he distributed. It was a nice experience for me because I recorded in a cassette tape and I gave to him, but he said, "You should play without any help!” So I had a little tape recorder and I played my cassette tape with a recorder and I sang.
6. I heard a few years ago you worked at a bakery, do you still work there or do you have another job now?
I changed now from a bakery shop and I work a part-time job in fashion.
7. What is music's function for you? A pass-time, a way of living, etc?
Do you mean the creation of music or listen to music? It's true that listening to music is a way of living; the creation of music is a kind of hobby at the moment...
8. What's your favorite instrument and your favorite sound?
I like very much keyboards, but I have no moog or vintage stuff. But I'd love to have one some day ! My friend discovered recently software that makes the sound of a theremin and it's so nice.
9. Your laptop seems very important for all your performances, what is the most important thing on it to you?
All of my songs on stage are from my laptop with an arrangement of O.Lamm or sometimes just my arrangement. I can't invite my friends to play with me as a guitar player or base player; I have every thing in my laptop without my voice.
10. I find Momus to be a fascinating person, how did you get to collaborate with him and what was the experience like for you?
I met him when I was in the band Crazy Curl and I had a gig near the sea in Kamakura, Japan. He came with his girl friend in this occasion and we became friends. I think I'm so lucky to collaborate with him because he collaborated with Kahimi Karie, my idol!!
11. You've been to many places around the world, what are some of your influences from where you've been?
I loved visiting Sweden last summer and I like a Swedish production of music like "piece of me" of Britney Spears or the Swedish singer Annie.
12. I find Japanese movies so unique and fun - do you have any favorites (or French, for that matter)?
As I mentioned, I'm a big fan of Hayao Miyazaki. I love Tanpopo of Jyuzo Itami too.
13. What can we expect from you in the future?
I don't know... You can maybe have a few more kumisolo's pop songs.
14. Is there anything you can't wait to do some day soon?
I should receive a top from ebay and I can't wait!!
A big thanks to Kumi for the interview, and make sure to check out whatever music of hers you can find!