VOICEsVOICEs

14 May

VOICEsVOICEs

“A Thousand Voices, Talking Perfectly Loud”

by Ryan Muldoon

VOICEsVOICEs – If there’s a more perfect example of the inherent elasticity in using the word “psychedelic” to define a type of music, I don’t know what it is. In the strictest sense, the music made by the Los Angeles duo (comprised of Nico Turner & Jenean Farris) certainly fits the psychedelic definition (“Of, characterized by, or generating … altered states of awareness”).

Still, there’s almost nothing that can be strictly defined about the music of VOICEsVOICEs – not riff-based, but catchy; electronic, but not pre-ordained; based on familiar emotions, but clearly not down to earth. VOICEsVOICEs simply is VOICEsVOICEs.

Nico and Jenean were kind enough to walk is through the rest of the story.

I suspect there was a conscious decision made when it came to choosing the name VOICEsVOICEs for this project. What does that name represent to you? How has your perception of the name changed from the original concept to where you stand today?

 

VOICEsVOICEs ... double live gonzo

 

 

Originally, the name was in regard to the great artistic conversation every artist is having with each other, the “voices” of time communicating a distinctive change. Over time, it became apparent and appropriate in that … we’re women, and even still, in our day to day experience our voices as women are deemed not as important as our male counterparts. It’s disturbing that it’s that way still, and in some countries, a woman dare not speak ever. It holds a lot of significance with us. The name definitely wasn’t just something that sounded cool at the time. Ever.

What are your own personal histories when it comes to both recording and performing music? Had the two of you been involved in any projects together before VOICEsVOICEs?

We were both in bands prior to VOICEsVOICEs, independently of each other … several bands, actually, and we were both drummers. We both had the experience of just being the drummer, just being in the background and not being respected and considered an integral part of the band. The decision to do VOICEsVOICEs together was in direct response to that. We are both drummers, yes, but we’re also capable of so much more musically and we wanted to explore that. Having had the same experiences, we were able to come from the same place with it, and really focus our energies in the same direction.

My introduction, and I suspect many others as well, to VOICEsVOICEs was through the “Origins” EP, which attracts attention not only due to the fact that it was produced by Prefuse 73, but through its eye-popping cover as well. What can you tell us about the tenor of those two elements, the sound and the vision? In fact, can you tell us what we should be seeing on that cover? Should we stare at it until our eyes cross?

Ha! The cover is the creation of an LA artist who goes by the name of Owleyes. He saw one of our early, early shows and told us about his work. It was completely perfectly fateful in that I think we’re both really so inspired by each other. He completely understands our sound. We don’t need to say that we want a cover to look a certain way or anything. We just support each other’s artistic endeavors and it just so happens that we speak the same language. Which we couldn’t be happier about. James has done all of our artwork. The first EP, a 7″ (that How To Fight Records put out) and the “Origins” EP. Our music is very visual and Owleyes sees it completely. He’s totally open to the sounds, and it’s beautiful.

In the same way that the visual component of the “Origins” EP is as compelling as it is confounding, I find the music contained therein to have more than a little mystery and majesty in its spirit. Is there a unifying theme to be unraveled in those songs? Are all of the lyrics even in English? Multiple headphone-assisted listens prove inconclusive.

You’re funny. We like these questions. “Origins” is about feeling constrained, so I guess we did our job. All of the songs are about feeling closed in, feeling that you’re in a cage and learning how to break out of it. The title track is this cascading, entrancing soundscape until the second half where the voice finally realizes what it needs to do and breaks through. “Out From Under” is about what we mentioned before regarding women being held to different standards than men, and “Flulyk” comments on the act of letting go of old traditions in love, overcoming anger or fear and learning again how to open up. It doesn’t matter that the lyrics are indecipherable (some are completely reversed and you’ll never know what we’re saying), the feeling of the music hopefully transcends all of that. Maybe one day, years from now, someone will have an epiphany about what’s being said, after several listens … it will just seep in and make sense. If that never happens, well, we think the music speaks for itself, considering you felt it compelling and confounding. That’s not so bad.

On the strength of one incredible performance at this year’s Austin Psych Fest, I’m also prepared to praise you with faint damnation by saying that your live set did not necessarily sound anything like the “Origins” EP.  I can only mean this as a compliment when I say you two really flipped my wig – I couldn’t tell exactly what was going on, song to song. But it was all so highly enjoyable – dynamic, strange, ecstatic, Kabuki-esque miniature arena rock damnation – amazing! So, how much variation is there normally in your live performances? Or perhaps a better way to ask, how much of this was solely in my head?

It’s not solely in your head. The live songs do sound a bit different than those found on the “Origins” EP. There are a lot of little nuances to be worked out for that live show, which we’re still working on and fine with. We’re completely confident in our live show at the moment, but we’re simultaneously working on something that sounds similar to the thing everyone has heard, because we’re proud of those songs. It takes a lot as two people to even perform the songs you heard at the Psych Fest and there’s a whole lot of specific layering we did with Prefuse for “Origins.” It’s really special and really specific. People can damn us to the ends of the earth with the fact that we don’t sound like that EP live, but you know … it’s our music. Anything we perform live is our music and it’s our show and we’re up there playing it. Hopefully that makes an impression too and people aren’t simply there to hear a recreation of something they heard and liked on an album that Prefuse 73 produced. There’s an experience to be had at a live show, and we think we live up to that.

 

VOICEsVOICEs ... photo by Jesse Plume

 

What are the most transformative musical experiences of your lives? What are the occurrences that drove you to music as a creative outlet? What other creative outlets do you have, or hope to have in the future?

The most transformative experiences we’ve had musically, the ones we always talk about are seeing/hearing people we admire do what they do and believe in it. Obvious experiences like seeing someone live (Bjork, PJ Harvey, The White Stripes, Radiohead, etc.) and knowing there was a struggle there, but this beauty came out of it live before our eyes and ears. A lot of L.A. bands inspire us completely; bands like 60-Watt Kid, EXITMUSIC, Jesus Makes The Shotgun Sound, Voice On Tape, Zombelle, who have become friends and confidants completely inspire us to do what we love – which is to get up on stage, or lock ourselves in a room and create sounds. We think everyone has songs in them, but having a drive to get them out of you and to maintain that drive, well … we look to our peers big and small to uplift our creative outlet. And it’s not just musical either. We’re both visual artists too. One of us went to art school and studied painting and photography, one studied graphic design. We utilize both in our creative process and the band has really inspired us to do more in this regard, whereas if there were no band, it would be completely different.

Will you ever cover “Voices” by Cheap Trick? Why or why not?

Maybe. That would be fun! We always talk about covering songs and putting a VOICEsVOICEs droning spin on it. Our most recent idea was to cover Aaliyah’s “More Than a Woman” Ha!

What excites you about music today? What have you been listening to lately? What are you looking forward to coming up?

What excites us about music today is that there seems to be no boundaries. We could cover Aaliyah and it wouldn’t be so far off or totally foreign to people. We’ve been listening a lot to Fever Ray. We’re really excited about electronic sounds, but we think everyone is at this moment in music. We like the idea that anyone can make music these days. Everyone should have the opportunity to create and it’s easier now. It’s easier now for two people to set up a home studio and record 10 songs themselves without a middle man or a fancy studio setting. That’s exciting! To be able to really take a creative drive and experience it fully on your own is amazing. We’re looking forward to a couple bands on our label (Manimal Vinyl) releasing their new records, EXITMUSIC, and Sister Crayon. We’re looking forward to our own full length as well. Upcoming!!

No less an authority on both songs and problems than Phil Spector once said this: “I’m getting a little tired of, y’know, hearing about everyone’s emotional problems. They’re not writing songs anymore, they’re writing ideas.” Thoughts? Reactions?

What is art if not sharing an idea with the world? If the music or emotional problems of an artist reaches someone and makes them think about things differently or inspires them to pick up an instrument and express themselves, then there’s nothing wrong with that. We take issue with the overly saturated ridiculousness of popular music, but there’s even inspiration in that. We hear a pop song and it drives us even further into making something we really believe in.

What’s next for VOICEsVOICEs?

We’re constructing a full length right now! We’re very premise driven, there’s always a story to be told in every aspect of what we create, so this full length is going to be very special for us. We’re excited about what’s next definitely. There’s another EU/UK tour in the works, and a re-release of our first EP (Sounds Outside) on Lefse Records, which will feature remixes from We Are The World, Afghan Raiders, Sister Crayon, The Gaslamp Killer, The Delta Mirror, and a couple others. Getting the family involved, you know.

VOICEsVOICEs – http://www.myspace.com/wearevoicesvoices

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