I heard the original To The Light House before I left for Cali and the remix when I got back to New York. It was then and there that I learned how much I don’t like NYC winters anymore. I’m a very visual person and aesthetics can have a pretty big impact on the way I feel. That said, I’ve been realizing that there’s just not that much inspiring nature in the city and with all the girls covered up there just isn’t much to look in general. Thankfully, there are songs like this to let me daydream while I look at this concrete jungle.
Memoryhouse is a fairly new guy & girl team and they’re also very big aesthetics, in fact a big part of their music is their photography. I was digging this Millionyoung remix and wanted to know more about this dreamy sound so I found an interview and was impressed by the way they approach their music and so on. Check it out…
MASSES: Thanks for joining us. Firstly tell me how you guys met and began playing together?
MEMORYHOUSE: Denise used to be a concert photographer, and she and I would run into each other at shows. We became friends pretty quickly; I think our creative outputâ€”her photography and my musicâ€”shared a common aesthetic, so it only felt natural to collaborate on something.
MASSES: Who have some of your inspirations been along the way?
MEMORYHOUSE: Obviously bands like My Bloody Valentine Galaxy 500, Cocteau Twins are influences that are easy to trace back to us, but weâ€™re also really inspired by Philip Glass, Tim Hecker, Boards of Canada, Suicide, Faust, etc.
MASSES: You guys are obviously pretty artistic people. Any other creative outputs?
MEMORYHOUSE: Denise and I both love photography and itâ€™s something that we consciously try to incorporate into Memoryhouse. Weâ€™re both visual people, so I guess thatâ€™s why weâ€™re always trying to connect photography and film into our music somehow. Denise also likes to do crafts, she made me a sailboat.
MASSES: With all these different genre names floating around nowadays, what would you class Memoryhouse as?
MEMORYHOUSE: Chillwave has been a term associated with us from early on, and weâ€™re fine with it because it seems to be more of a response to the type of imagery the songs elicit, although I wouldnâ€™t necessarily place ourselves in that genre. I guess a song like â€œTo the Lighthouseâ€ or â€œLatelyâ€ provoke a certain visceral response in peopleâ€”thereâ€™s a â€œdreamyâ€ quality to it. At the same time though, the songs are somewhat neurotic and paranoid. I guess we get away with it because the level of dissonance between the sound and the content is so defined; â€œSometimes Iâ€™m pulled away from my own miseryâ€ takes on a different meaning. Genre qualifications generally reflect a kind of subjective interpretation of trends and popular opinion rather than specific qualities and attributions, and I guess having a band name with â€œmemoryâ€ in it bears certain associations.
MASSES: Why did you decide to give away your EP for free download?
MEMORYHOUSE: I think we just wanted it to reach as many people as possible. Free music allows listeners to listen objectively without worrying about justifying their purchase, or perhaps being too influenced by the media. Itâ€™s a simple concept really; you get to decide for yourself whether or not itâ€™s worth your time.
MASSES: So do you think the internet has helped your career?
MEMORYHOUSE: The internet made our career really. Blogs like Delicious Scopitone, Transparent, FMLY, Get Off the Coast and MagicRPM not only helped get us wider exposure, but their continued support led to sites like Gorilla vs. Bear and Pitchfork to take notice of us as well. The French online record label BEKO also really helped us along by issuing a digital single of ours in December.
MASSES: I did notice that you gained the attention of Pitchfork. Do you think of this as a blessing?
MEMORYHOUSE: I tend to see it as a blessing. A site like Pitchfork tends to legitimize music for many people. There are so many bands and so much music out there, so if a site thatâ€™s renowned for their particular taste starts paying attention to you, you take notice.
MASSES: Do you think the internet had a positive / negative impact on the music industry?
MEMORYHOUSE: I donâ€™t feel that itâ€™s had a positive impact on the music industry, but it has definitely had a positive impact on music. The internet is possibly the closest weâ€™ll ever come to Franklinâ€™s vision of â€œmeritocracyâ€. Sure, there will always be rich assholes in suits controlling the music industry by throwing money at it, thatâ€™s a given, but every once in a while there comes a game changer like â€œFeel it All Aroundâ€ or Susan Boyle or whatever that will create something significantly forward thinking that will leave the â€œindustryâ€ scrambling for years trying to keep up with it. Itâ€™s been seven years since â€œSuch Great Heightsâ€ came out of nowhere and went gold, and theyâ€™ve only now managed to effectively cash in on it (You know who Iâ€™m talking about).
MASSES: Tell us about the music scene in your hometown. Do you receive much support for your music back home?
MEMORYHOUSE: I used to be more involved in the â€œsceneâ€ back home, going to shows, doing sound EQ for bands etc, but I havenâ€™t for a long time. I think I more or less got too busy with school, or on a larger scale, felt alienated by the kind of generic electro indie rock clusterfuck that seemingly swallowed our culture. I think our hometown and the surrounding area has a truly amazing art-punk scene though, led by bands like Brides and Actual Water to name a few. Itâ€™s music that will probably never get the exposure and recognition it deserves since it isnâ€™t trendy or anything, but itâ€™s definitely the best part of our music scene right now.
MASSES: Who are some of your favourite upcoming acts?
MEMORYHOUSE: Cloud Nothings are great; itâ€™s kind of ridiculous how many hooks theyâ€™re capable of packing into one song. â€œHey Cool Kidâ€ is the most hypnotically catchy song Iâ€™ve heard this year.
MASSES: Memoryhouse has a very layered soundscape. Explain to us your live setup. What equipment do you guys use? Who plays what?
MEMORYHOUSE: We just finished putting together a live band; weâ€™re going to be playing shows pretty soon. I thought itâ€™d be really difficult to capture that layers and ambience live, but itâ€™s been going really well. Iâ€™m using a loop pedal to perpetually layer the songs with guitar as they progress so that none of the interweaving melodies such as the guitar arrangements in â€œSleep Patternsâ€ get lost in translation. Aside from that, we have our good friend Bryan playing bass, and Gabrielle playing piano/organ while we broadcast beats from a sampler. Denise focuses on singing mostly, but she does percussion as well.
MASSES: What goes into your song writing process, how does it all come together?
MEMORYHOUSE: I like to approach a composition from a few different angles before I settle on an arrangement. I think the beat I use ends up playing a factor in determining the â€œcharacterâ€ of the song. Iâ€™ll generally demo a song with three or four different arrangements and assess what works and what doesnâ€™t. I tend to be analytical with my writing, stemming from years of composing classical music. Writing pop music, however, takes me out of my comfort zone so I try to follow my intuition when Iâ€™m arranging songs.
MASSES: What’s next for Memoryhouse? Plans for the near future?
MEMORYHOUSE: Weâ€™ve got a To the Lighthouse 7â€ coming out in March, and a longer EP coming out in the spring called Looms of Youth. We really want to travel, so hopefully a trip to Europe is in our near future. Aside from that, we just want to keep writing, and keep playing, and just keep releasing more music; itâ€™s been such a wonderful experience so far.