Friday, July 12, 2013

The Sadness of the Human Head - An interview with DG IX of The Field Recordings

We caught up with one of our favorite people, DG IX from The Field Recordings, to discuss what is happening in his life and art as of late. He had a lot to say, as so much is going on. Much music and even a film is in the works. Take a gander after the break.

ADAM: So, what have you been up to recently?

DG IX: It's been hard, I guess. After everybody quit [THE FIELD RECORDINGS] in October, I just went to bed. This was actually really strange--for 3 or 4 days I just started passing out. I couldn't stay awake. Then on the 4th or 5th day, naturally, I couldn't go to sleep... so I have the emotional response of a dog .
So I've been up to trying to figure out what I'm supposed to be doing with my life, in short.

I mean, empirically, THE FIELD RECORDINGS has been a giant waste of time--there wasn't a minute of any day that I wasn't working at it, for 6 years. We played like 400 shows--what good did it do me? What do I have to show for all that?

Stuff like that. Once it was over, my mind kind of turned on itself... the usual desperation pabulum
But enough about that...

ADAM: That can be frustrating to put all of your efforts into something that doesn't pan out the way you expected or intended. I have found that there is something to be said for the journey rather than the destination, perhaps it is the 400ish shows that did the good you're looking for in a tangible sense? Perhaps putting out a great album?

DG IX: I've worked myself into a corner here. This is all grain-of-salt stuff, because obviously I'm not healed-up about any of it, and I've got a knack for thinking about The Worst Thing...
If people like the album, I'm happy, but the way I'm feeling now is I'll never play those songs again. They were written with people I never want to think about again... I've served my time with them.

ADAM: So you found you were unable to stop yourself from being creative, how did that come about?

DG IX: Well, so I wasn't doing anything for a month straight, maybe... I just went to the movies a lot and quit listening to music. Then my father called me, sometime in April I think, and told me he wanted to make a documentary about my aunt Donna.

She's a really great painter & person & storyteller & Tom Waits fan, and she's suffering from this pretty rare disease called Fibrous Dysplasia of the skull.
It's almost a second skull made out of this cartilage-like bone, growing from the base of her neck forward, crushing vertebrae and nerves as it goes along. When her doctors discovered it, they took a biopsy and found a large brain tumor grown all through the FD. It's inoperable. So we don't know how long we've got with her.

So my father wanted to make a film about her and he asked me to help research & launch the Kickstarter campaign and also travel with the Director as a PA and part-time interviewer. Then I asked him what he was thinking about for music, and he said we didn't have much of a budget... so instead of patching one together with free-domain stuff, I offered to try doing it myself.

ADAM: I am very sorry to hear about Donna's condition. This is clearly a very personal and challenging topic to cover. I imagine this is a documentary about her life and times as well as her recent condition? Tell us something interesting about your Aunt Donna

DG IX: Yeah, she's had a lot of medical troubles over the years, but none of us were prepared for this... I'm sure it will get more difficult to cope with, but I hope that something really lasting comes out of it, the time we'll all spend together making this film.

She has this Book Of The Dead that she keeps for birds she finds in her daily walks.

Do you have a friend who always finds money on the ground or something like that? With Donna, it's dead birds... everywhere she goes--Italy, Egypt, everywhere, a dead bird in her path. It's like a photo album full of them, and she paints and makes these little mixed media pages for each one. It's a thick book. I don't know how long it's been going on or when it started, but that book is THICK.

ADAM: I imagine you guys will be shooting digitally? What can you tell me about the backend of this project, what's the master plan?

DG IX: Yeah, it's all digital. I should make sure to mention that Sherman Krysher, the Director, is a card-carrying Professional... so it's not a really expensive home movie... The master plan is to get it finished and throw a party in an art gallery for the premiere--show the film, give Donna a great gallery show for all of her paintings. Beyond that we're just starting to look at the festivals we could enter, but I think we're going to try for one of the big ones. There's also some chance that we can get it to PBS... but that part is still coming along.

ADAM: What do you think the soundtracking process will be like? Have you ever soundtracked visual media before?

DG IX: I've never done anything like this, no. Aside from that old slideshow of mine, which we used during a few really scattered live shows, I've never been asked to write towards an image or even a certain feeling.
The first piece I wrote for the film, THE SADNESS OF THE HUMAN HEAD, was originally supposed to be just for the trailer... and then I just kept hearing more of it in my head, so it got longer and longer. I haven't scored-to-picture yet, but I can assume there will be a good bit of back-and-forth between me and the Director.

ADAM: How did you guys end up getting hooked up with the Director?

DG IX: He's a family friend. My father seems to pull these kinds of people to him, like a gravitational vacuum or one of those mothers that lifts a bus to save their child.

ADAM: So you're working on a new The Field Recordings album solo? And it's analog?

DG IX: Yeah, I've kind of got 3 albums going--or at least 3 thoughts going right now. The soundtrack album, the second electric TFR record, and this acoustic thing... I'm just trying to do really simple songs, recorded live to this 1/4" reel-to-reel deck I've got.

I don't really know anything more about it yet, it's just something I can do with what I've got at hand. Something about the idea is exciting to me... by the time we were done with NOSTALGIA, I'd fussed over the songs so much, it just wears you out trying to chase down all the little problems, and then worrying if you've got a song left over...

Have you ever heard any of Elvis Costello's studio demos from his first two records? They're just these quick sketches he would do alone in the studio--I kind of want it to be closer to that than any stereotypical acoustic album, or like, full of those pushy songs that people try to shove their FEELINGS around at open mics. Hopefully I'll be able to get the first song from it online next week.

ADAM: I have not heard the Elvis Costello demos, I am sure they are amazing. Aside from that what other work are you using for inspiration/guidance?

DG IX: I don't really know--to me, so far, the idea is to write a lot of songs quickly, and be OK with the rough edges or the mistakes or the odd word here and there... words especially. On NOSTALGIA, or right after it, I realized I'd kind of built up this writer's block--there were so many topics or turns of phrase or whatever that I refused to do, and then all of a sudden it felt like I'd lost the ability to break those rules. Everything I wrote felt like it was whatever was left after everything else was cut away...
Also because I've got this reel-to-reel just sitting around, and it seems too incredible to just relegate it to cassette-demos.

ADAM: One final question, what's in Yr headphones recently?

DG IX: Actually, I don't really like anything new coming out. Or, not past a few listens... I got the new Deerhunter record, which is good, but it isn't sticking on my record player like their last few have. So it's been mostly old stuff. This one King Sunny Ade record called "Synchro Feelings", last month was a ton of Harry Nilsson, I've been trying to listen to "Sandanista!" in one sitting, Brian Eno's "Before and After Science", the new Proud Flesh, "The Payback"... that's more or less it. I don't know, there's some real feeling when you hear something from 40 years ago that now you don't want to live without, like an awe-struck feeling, an odd reverse hope, hope for the past... I don't really get that I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS EXISTED FOR SO LONG WITHOUT ME feeling from new records lately.

There you have it. Head over to their KICKSTARTER and give generously to their cause and make some ART HAPPEN!

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