jeudi 8 novembre 2012

A part of each other - a Ryland Bouchard interview

Il y a dix ans paraissait "They Ate Themselves", le premier album de the Robot Ate Me. Venu à ce groupe de proche en proche grâce à son label Swim Slowly (celui de Bedroom Heroes, quant à eux découverts via, je me souviens qu'une poignée de secondes auront été suffisantes pour que je m'attache à cette musique pop/folk expé délicate, et que je commande le disque.

Aujourd'hui, il reste pour moi comme l'un des meilleurs disques des 00's (cf. page Hit Parade). Depuis cette époque, j'ai naturellement suivi la trajectoire du groupe, puis celle en solo de l'homme derrière tout ça, aka Ryland Bouchard (déjà évoqué ici-même, lors de sa venue parisienne début 2oo9).

Vendredi dernier, il publiait sur son tumblr le message suivant :
The Robot Ate Me - “A PART OF EACH OTHER”. A preview of the upcoming album, written and recorded on Guemes Island, WA in 2012. Recorded by Ryland Bouchard with Tony Ruland (guitar) and Chad Matheny (drums).
[Flash 9 is required to listen to audio.]

Disons-le, c'est quand même LA bonne nouvelle de cette fin d'année... (de nature à différer la rédaction de mon top de fin d'année)

Les infos étant minces, et la parole de Ryland Bouchard rare, je me suis décidé à lui en demander d'avantage, ce qui amène finalement l' e-mail interview ci-dessous
(réalisée pour Arise Therefore, donc).

Where do you live now? On Guemes Island? How is it?
According to some photos you've posted on your tumblr, it looks like a very nice place...
I live on Guemes Island off the coast of Anacortes, WA. I moved here in March and it was the best decision I've ever made. The island is only accessible by ferry so there's only about 200 people that live here. The roads are quiet and people are extremely friendly. Walking around here is like moving back in time about 100 years where the landscapes were natural and people were happy. Living here I spend time outside in the garden, go to the beach, forage for mushrooms and work on music. I rarely see other people and avoid technology, which has been quite nice.

Anacortes (Etat de Washington), sur Google Maps.
Petit tour d'horizon musical : Anacortes est la ville d'origine de Phil Elvrum. Juste au Sud, Le Mont Erie... Plus loin, dans la même direction à 130 km, Seattle [Nirvana]. Immédiatement au Nord, Guemes Islands [Ryland Bouchard]. Encore plus au Nord, au-delà de la frontière canadienne, Vancouver [Destroyer]. A l'Ouest, toujours au Canada, Victoria [Frog Eyes]. Le mieux serait encore que vous vous familiarisiez avec les environs à partir de ce lien googlemaps.

Is Anacortes where you came to know Tony Ruland (guitar player on the next Robot Ate Me album, but also in a band called the Lonely Forest) and Chad Matheny (drummer on the next Robot Ate Me album, but also releasing music as Emperor X)?
I met Tony Ruland while living in the Department of Safety in Anacortes (an old Firehouse turned music venue/art space). The two of us lived with six girls (who were all constantly fighting) in the freezing building without predictable heat or hot water so we naturally became friends. We've stayed in touch over the years and it's been wonderful to see his band grow musically over the years. I'm constantly amazed at all the creative energy that comes from this small town in WA. There is an unexplained "magnetic disturbance" off the coast of Guemes Island, so it's possible that explains something...

Chad Matheny and I met prior to a short tour in Mexico where we played several strange shows together. I had no knowledge of his music before we met, but quickly realized he was not only a wonderful person but brilliant musician. After our tour in Mexico we toured together for months across the US in my old '78 Peugeot 504 that continually broke down, but still managed to survive the tour! That was a difficult time. I had just released "Seeds" and spent all my money on the packaging for that release - and had nothing left to spend on promotion. The tour went on for 6 months (including dates in Europe) and Chad played all the US shows with me. To this day he is still one of the nicest and hardest working musicians I know.

Same question with Phil Elvrum (the Microphones, Mt Eerie...) Have you ever played music with him?
Phil and I both work excessively when we are in town so we rarely see each other - but I have nothing but respect for his work ethic and music!

I'm writing these questions down, while listening to "They Ate Themselves". It was released ten years ago ! What are your feelings / thoughts over this decade?
That's funny you mention "They Ate Themselves" - today I was at the "Coop" about an hour from my house (a place that sells food from local farmers) and the person at the register introduced himself and said "They Ate Themselves" was still one of his favorite records.

I am very thankful for the last 10 years, having spent most of it travelling, meeting new people and learning about various cultures in a very personal way - and that all this was possible because of music. I believe that if most people had the opportunity to travel as I have they would realize that we are all very similar and need similar things for happiness and survival. The differences that divide people are often imaginary and trivial.

What made you consider reactivating "the Robot Ate Me" ? 
"The Robot Ate Me" started as a project for experimentation and will remain the outlet for my more experimental work. People are okay with experimentation from a band, but not from a folk singer. Similarly people expect a folk singer to consistently release folk music. By reactivating "The Robot Ate Me" I'm just making things easier for people to understand.

So, what can we expect with the new album (not yet titled) ?
The new album was written over two years in various locations across the country. Depending on where I was living I collaborated with different people. Some of the songs were recorded with DL in Knoxville, TN (I Need Sleep / Dumb Lunch) and others with Chad Matheny (Emperor X) / Tony Ruland (The Lonely Forest) in Anacortes, WA. Each track was constructed and then deconstructed many times before the final version. In many cases none of the original tracks remain. My process was creation (or imagination) through elimination. Vocals were recorded and then the instrumentation was removed and restructured in different keys or relative majors/minors. Tracks were recorded and deleted to the point of near insanity with the goal of eliminating conscious thought. By working blindly you often stumble onto ideas greater than your own.

The process could be compared to the recording of Talk Talk's "Spirit of Eden" or Brian Wilson's "Smile". I dislike the sound of modern recordings that sound clean, perfect, and digital - so I spent what feels like forever slowly crafting this record on about 10 two inch 16 track tapes (about 30 minutes of music each) and then bouncing those tracks between various tape machines for the final version. In general, although the process has been tedious - the final results sound like nothing else - so it's a bit hard to make an honest comparison.

Let's be concrete : Release date? Formats? Nice packaging as usual?
The upcoming release is going to be exclusively digital. I expect the release to be available in the first weeks of December (if not sooner). No pre-order. I have some wonderful artwork in mind by a deceased Danish artist that is quite fitting for the new release.

I have tried everything (vinyl, CD's, MP3, box sets) and out of every format I now prefer digital because it allows me to focus on music and not be bothered by the "music industry" aspects of releasing a record. Friends of mine have been burdened with mailing out vinyl endlessly or negotiating contracts with major labels and I feel very fortunate to not have any of those worries. I value the tactile aspects of previous releases - but overall I believe digital releases are the future of music and everyone holding on to the past will die trying to preserve formats that are no longer relevant.

Will you come back to France?
Yes, I hope so!

Interview réalisée par e-mail le 6 novembre 2012, à la veille d'une séance de travail visant à la finalisation de l'album (à paraître en digital, début Décembre). Merci à Ryland Bouchard.

Ecoute / Achat :
De jolies photos des environs de Guemes Islands

Moran State Park

1 commentaire:

  1. Oh Oh! du contenu EXCLUSIF sur Arise Therefore!!! Excellent! Merci.