Thursday, November 7, 2013

{INTERVIEW} the blow

TIOJ got a chance to chat with Khaela Maricich of electro-pop duo The Blow in anticipation of their upcoming show tomorrow night at Black Cat. Read ahead as we chat with Khaela about their new album, the stage setup for this tour, and her first kiss. 

Listen while you read: 

Tell us about yourselves! How did you guys meet and decide to start making music together?
Melissa and I met years ago at a performance festival in Portland. We were both new in town and didn't have a lot of friends and we started hanging out. One day we drove to the river and were just sitting there and suddenly realized we had both fallen asleep out of nowhere -- it was this kind of psychic comfort that we both felt without knowing each other very well, like we were just on the same wavelength, and that's how it's always been. A few years later we started dating, but we worked on projects together from the very start, mostly installation and conceptual pieces. Melissa toured with me throughout 2007/2008, controlling the samples from the back of the room, and we got a lot of time to work on our dynamic together, being able to intuitively read each other. Then in around 2009 we started playing around with making music together, as a weird experiment, but with the same style and connection that we'd been working with for years.

How would you describe your music to someone who's never heard it before?
We just always say its pop music. And people say," pop music?" And we say, "yeah, like Hall and Oates, or Madonna. It's electronic pop music." And they say, "really?" And we say, "yeah, but like made by spazzes."

Photo by Kyle Dean Reinford
What is your songwriting process like? Where do you find inspiration?
I've always written songs just by singing the lyrics and melody aloud to myself while walking around the house or outside or wherever. It's funny because with Melissa and I are living together she gets to hear me working out lyrics as I sing them aloud. I'm comfortable enough with her that I can let her hear the process as it happens, and she is discrete and won't say anything to me about a song until I formally sing it to her and ask for her perspective. Once the song is written then Melissa and I write the instrumentation around it together.

Click ahead for more!!

You just released your album The Blow after a six-year hiatus. How would you describe the process of making of this album? What were some of your goals in making the album?
We wanted to try things we had never tried. There were a lot of these out there. A main goal was to make an electronic album by creating all our own samples -- we wanted to use non electronic instruments to make samples that sounded super clean and digital. This ended up taking a ton of labor and time and we ended up really happy with how it turned out.

I had produced a few albums on all analog gear on my own before making electronic music with Jona Bechtolt, and Melissa had played music classically as a child and had worked with a luthier building and repairing classical guitars, but neither of us had produced an album using digital recording tools. We felt like the sky was the limit, which was both inspiring and at times overwhelming. One doesn't have to make it sound like a rock band -- there are no set instruments to have to stick to. So a lot of the process was us foraging out into the empty sound field experimenting with what felt and sounded like us. I'd write really brute instrumental lines and Melissa would make delicate and refined ones, and she would spend endless hours massaging the sounds together and arranging everything so that it merged seamlessly. A lot of songs we made several different versions for before we were satisfied. It's funny, now that we are done the process is so quick and slippery and fun, we are actually going right back into the studio to do some more songs after tour is over because it feels so effortless at this point.

How do you think being out of the recording studio for so long affected this album? 
Time gave us perspective, mostly. After making and touring with Paper Television it just took a while to feel the impulse to be public again. It's intense, sharing yourself so intimately with audiences. For me, songs come naturally or not at all; I can't just write an album of material because its expected. It took a minute before I personally had anything to say. Melissa and I moved to New York in early 2009 and we both got deep into seeing other peoples work. I basically spent a year catching up on knowing about all the things I'd never learned about in my years in Olympia. Melissa went to school for acoustics and got pretty expert at the science of how sound works. Then when we started recording it was such a crazy odyssey, so scary and massive and out in uncharted territory. And passing through this and making it out the other side gave us more perspective than we had even bargained for. Like us floating in space against the background of infinite space. We turned into deep trippers.

You talk about some pretty relatable dating situations. What's the worst or weirdest date that you've been on?
I guess the first date I ever went on was the worst. I was 17 and had never kissed anyone. I met this older guy named Buck who worked at the bagel shop and made an attempt at flirting with him, which apparently worked because he asked me out. I think he might have been 22? He seemed VERY old. He was very cute, and was a drummer in a band that he said played middle eastern music. I didn't know what that meant. I suspected he might be way into drugs because he said he would never want me to see where he lived.

Before the official date, he took a break from work one time and sat on a bench with me at the Pike Place Market were the bagel shop was. While sitting on the bench I said that I'd never been kissed and he said, "Would you like to be?" and just leaned and gave me a very nice quick warm smooch. It was great. After that we made plans to hang out on the 4th of July. We spent the day walking around in a torrential downpour, eating Chinese cake, not talking, with me obsessing over why we weren't talking and worrying that it was my fault. I realized not too much later that it was a bad date because he didn't talk to me all day long and just walked around staring into space. Maybe he was shy, or high, who knows? I guess you have to start somewhere.

The stage setup for your upcoming tour sounds super creative and interesting. Can you tell us more about that?
Basically Melissa stands on a mini stage in the middle of the crowd and I stand on the main stage and we hug the audience and somehow it seems to make everyone want to hug us after the show. Or maybe it's like Melissa is positioned out in the audience like an electrical element, conducting the charge out into the people standing around her, and zapping it across the room to me, and with our combined force we send little lightning bolts of power around the room. Metaphorically speaking.

DC! Check out this hug-worthy stage setup for yourselves tomorrow night at Black Cat! (Ticket info here)

1 comment:

  1. Bruce Harper here a.k.a Gabe Grey --> check out my music @!


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