Maria Linden of I Break Horses on My Bloody Valentine and why fans are more like soulmates
Until late last year or early this year you didn't play live shows. What have you had to do in order to be able to play music in the live setting and travel around the world?
We've had to make a lot of adjustments. It's a combination of me needing musicians, and they're not easy to find. Then dealing with my stage fright. I've always considered this some kind of bedroom recording thing, but obviously, I felt like, of course, that I needed to make this into a live thing. And I wanted to meet the wonderful soulmates that have liked the album and play for them.
It's been difficult and we haven't done many live shows yet, actually. Since I played everything on the record apart from the drums, we needed to be more people. I think we've done not more than thirteen shows so far and it's been a different set-up each time with new people because people have jobs.
It's been a very good experience, as well. I wasn't finished with the album when I had to be finished. So I feel like I've been given a second chance to make new versions of the song as well, so it's been both a struggle when it comes to logistics and finding people to play with live, but, like I said, it's been a second chance to change the parts I didn't like about the album and to make better versions than the album versions.
For this upcoming tour, are you bringing some Swedish musicians with you or hiring musicians from where you're playing?
We were going to play with some American musicians from the start but at the last minute they had some promotional things they needed to do at the same time that conflicted with this tour. So we will be four Swedes going. This time, it will be the same set-up we've done for two shows. We have four synthesizers so we'll see how it works. They're all old, analog synthesizers that we're bringing that weigh like thirty kilos. They kind of work when they want to.
This guy Christopher plays a synthesizer, but he's handy with fixing old gear, so when some synthesizer breaks down, he's there and can fix them so that's good. A technician is necessary when working with this old equipment. We have another guitarist as well and we've found a drummer.
Obviously, I would like to have a set-up with six or seven people, but it won't be economical to bring more people. It will be different from the album, but I hope people will enjoy that and it's not going to be like pressing Play on the album. They'll get different versions of the songs. I really hope they'll like it.
On your bio for Bella Union, it talked about how you taped songs and then destroyed the tapes and worked on Hearts for three years? Why did you scrap those early experiments and what did you learn in taking three years to record your album?
That's true, actually. First of all, it was my first album, and I was new to the whole recording process. It was very much a learning by doing process. I recorded demos at home at first and then thought maybe I confused these recordings and felt like I needed to record them in a proper studio. So I went to Poland to a studio there with some crazy people. The power went off several times, so we had to close down for several hours until the power went on again and we could continue. Then I came back with those recordings and didn't like them at all. So I lost the nerve you get from those first recordings.
The music is so much about the vibe and the atmosphere, it didn't feel right. Maybe people would have liked that more than when I started over but for me it didn't feel right even if they were more technically better or sounding. But it didn't have the vibe I was after. So I [recorded] an album again, and by then, I'd played those songs so many times I got tired of them and wanted to change. I think I did ten arrangements of each song, and felt like I was never going to be able to finish it. It was a lot of tearing my hair and tears. But then it came to a point where I just needed to finish. Hopefully I get a chance to make record number two and now I just need to let this one go. I just finished it and started working on new songs.
I worked full time at that time, as well, so it wasn't only that I was working on this album for those years. I had to combine it with a rather energy draining job in human resources. It was finding the moments to relax from that job and finding the inspiration to sit down with this. The combination of those things is when I synthesized what I wanted to do. That's why it took so long. I find it very difficult, when it comes to music, when I write a piece, I seem to want to fix it and change it several times and make new arrangements.
It takes a lot of time because I hardly ever just sit down with only the piano or the guitar and write songs from start to finish. I start with making some noises and develop the songs around that. Maybe that takes a little more time to do it in that way because you have already set the mood and then a lot of pressure comes to finish the song even when we've been working on the sound for a long time and it needs some structure as well.
When it comes to structure, I'm not there yet. But I seem to be working differently with the new songs and let them go and not listen to them a hundred times to find something more I could develop. We'll see how the new things sound. It's less stressful, at least, to working that way than to try to change every single little thing and never be happy anyway. I'm trying different ways now so it won't take another three years to do the next album.
Referencing that Quietus interview again, why do you consider people who come to see your music as "soulmates" rather than fans?
I don't like calling them fans. If they have found something in this music that they like, I really feel that they are soulmates. I could never call somebody a fan. I think I discovered the proper word for those people.
In various interviews you embrace supposed imperfections in your music and a kind of lo-fi aesthetic. What about that sort of thing appeals to you?
The lo-fi thing? I don't know, I've always been drawn to that. I was talking to someone two days ago about how I love bands like Dirty Beaches. The warmth, I've just always loved that sound and at the same time I can appreciate, I don't want to say "well-produced" because it's "well-produced" if you can appreciate the music, heavily produced music as well but there's something I instantly love about lo-fi-sounding music. I guess it's the sound of the old tapes. You can hear it in there.
I've also always loved when the sound of the tape pitch bends a little bit. The warmth of those recordings and the nerve I really like. But at the same time I can love the great hip-hop because I love many different types of music. If I had had the knowledge, I would have made this album even more lo-fi, I think. It's in the middle somewhere with this album. It's an ever-evolving process, learning to present the music you make in the best way.
I was talking with a friend two days ago and it's difficult to put to words on why you always like that special sound. I didn't come up with anything good but talking with my friend, it was an instant love affair with lo-fi-sounding songs. But it's not only the sound. Dirty Beaches has really great songs as well. There's a special nerve in the vocals. I really can't explain why but I love it, it's as simple as that.
A number of journalists have remarked on the cinematic quality of your music. Are there particular visual artists and directors whose visual style you feel resonates strongly with your musical endeavors?
I really love Wim Wenders, the German director. I've been very inspired by his films. Wings of Desire is so inspirational to watch and I immediately want to sit down and make my own music for that film. There are lots of other ones as well. [But] there's something very poetic [about his films]. Even if not many words are spoken it leave so much more to the audience's imagination, even imagine themselves in the movie.
But mostly it's the poetry of his movies. The colors and the moods. Generally I love films that leave a lot to the imagination for people watching those movies. Also that they don't explain every single thing. In that film there's very little music and the music that is there is super. I like mood-setting films.
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