Our newest interview comes from Brooklyn-based Bear In Heaven. They speak to us about their live show, their relationship as a band and pandas. They perform tonight at 7:30pm in the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium.
1) As a band, how important is it to you to put on a quality live show?
It’s very important. We spend a lot of time in the practice space getting our sound right. In the last few years we’ve become committed to bringing lights with us as well. It adds a lot of cable patching before sound check but I think it’s worth it. Lights and music and alcohol are fun.
2) What can we expect at Moogfest?
We’re playing a mixed bag of songs from our last two records. With each show we try to get folks to put their guard down and dance.
3) Who are you interested in seeing this year?
Pretty much everybody. The lineup is mind blowing. For the short list I hope to see Exitmusic, Miike Snow and Richie Hawtin.
4) What is it that you love about synths?
The infinite sonic possibilities and happy accidents. Every time I sit down to program a sound I’ll stumble on a new sound. They also sound like outer space, outer space is cool.
5) Where would you like your music to go? Where are you afraid for it to go?
I’d like for it to go down a deep rabbit hole. It’d be great to find that balance between looseness/jamming and pop music. I’m afraid of it turning into a political theme music.
6) In several interviews, you express an appreciation for people who are or have been involved with the band. How do your interpersonal relationships help define your music?
They’re a huge influence. Being in a band with someone is like being married. It influences everything in our lives, not just music. Multiple ideas forming a song make a better song in my eyes.
7) You have mentioned listening to Bieber Stretched Out as part of the inspiration for your 2,700 hour version of I Love You, It’s Cool. What musical inspirations to you would surprise your fans?
At this point I don’t think we could shock our fans.
8) You’re from Atlanta but currently live in Brooklyn. Have you ever thought about moving back?
No. I love Atlanta but Brooklyn is home. I’m not a fan of driving a car every where.
9) Where does the name Bear In Heaven come from?
Everything you do on earth is what you will bear in heaven. It’s also a constellation.
This last one is more of a fun question to help settle some discussions on the site.
Tea: sweet, unsweet or hot? Half sweet, half unsweet on ice.
Pandas: great animal or greatest animal? Pandas are great animals. The greatest animal will survive beyond all other animals.
Prefuse 73 aka Guillermo Scott Herren is the latest Moogfest 2012 artist in our interview series. He answers our questions about his influences, his recent back surgery and his collaboration with Teebs. He performs at 12:30am with Teebs Saturday night at the Asheville Music Hall.
1) You have stated before that your mother started you in music at a young age with more classical instruments. How did she feel when you branched out into other musical interests?
I’m pretty convinced she believed that my personal music endeavors would be more of a hobby that I’d burn out on and hopefully start working on one of the many things I studied in college.
I’ll just say that she is a fan of my ambition and persistence towards writing and seeing projects through much more than my “actual” music.
2) Who have been your biggest inspirations?
First off, “everything”. To be “somewhat” brief, I think I owe my greatest debt to the people who I played shows with when I first began to tour. I was so much younger and even if the music was different than my own, it all made a giant impact on me. Christian Fennesz, Snd, Boards of Canada, Autechre, Pan Sonic, Tortoise, Broadcast, early Def Jux stuff, Four Tet, etc.. All of these people created music unlike anyone at the time and it truly opened my mind to take directions I wouldn’t have without the first hand exposure to them. That’s just a facet that I’ve been reflecting on lately. There are so many people that influence me before and after, of course.
3) You recently mentioned something on twitter about back surgery. How is that going?
It’s no good. I’ve never had any kind of surgery in my life and it has taken me out for a month or so. While recovering, I mixed a record for a really good band from Atlanta called Cloudeater that turned out well. I’ve read a lot and been to many follow-up appointments. I’m told I’ll be fully functional in about 2 more months. Looking forward to that.
4)In your career, you have been based out of Atlanta, Barcelona and New York. What has each city brought to your music?
All three cities are so different but I think the most freedom I’ve ever felt making music was in BCN (Barcelona). New York creates its own stimulus with all of the things naturally moving around you. Atlanta was super chill when I worked there but I’ve only been back a few times in the past several years so many factors may have changed since.
5) What do you feel electronic instruments provide that more traditional instruments cannot?
I put electronic instruments on the same scale of importance of traditional instruments. One wouldn’t make much sense without the other to me. It’s a hard question to answer when I utilize both of them equally.
6) You have collaborated with a variety of musicians. Who is on your wish list for future collaborations?
I currently want to get deeper into my work with Teebs. I really love collaborating since I generally write everything on my own. I suppose I don’t really have wish list as much as I welcome the idea to do things with anyone that shares similar views on sound and wants to create something natural.
7) How did you first get together with Teebs?
I was familiar with Teebs via ‘Low End Theory’ friends in L.A. I eventually reached out to him after developing my own connections to his music. It felt natural to see if he wanted to do something together and he ended up being one of the coolest humans on earth.
How is a show with him different from your solo shows?
Right now, our live show is a mix between both of our individual material mixed with several collaborations. Sooner or later, it will all be just collaborative material.
8) Should we expect a release from Sons Of The Morning anytime soon?
Definitely!!! The only thing holding us up are conflicting schedules that keep us at different parts of the world all the time. We just need a solid week in the studio at the same time to wrap some things up and we’ll be good.
How about a Prefuse 73 release?
Tons of Prefuse material on the horizon. I needed to step back, be quiet, focus and study for a while. I did all that and now I have more music than I know what to do with.
9) Do you have any creative outlets aside from music? What are they?
Yes. Forensic Science, interior/space design, furniture design, all things involving design.
10) What is your favorite piece of music equipment?
My classical guitar.
11) Is there a particular set of emotions you try to evoke with your music?
Every aspect of human relation particularly romantic ideas that rarely happen.
12) What are some recent or upcoming releases on Eastern Developments that we should check out?
I actually decided to close this chapter (with friends) and create something new to facilitate a more broad range of projects, etc. I’d be more involved with describing everything but we haven’t really dropped any concrete news on that yet.
13) Who do you want to see on this year’s Moogfest line-up?
I want to see the Tim Hecker and Daniel Lopatin collaboration!!!, Actress, Andy Stott, DEATH GRIPS (!), GZA, El-P, Killer Mike, everything.
These last two are less serious questions to help settle some discussions on the site.
Is a hamburger a sandwich? On most menus, there is a sandwich section and a burger section. My answer is gonna be NO.
Cats or dogs? Dogs.
I understand that you have a very loyal group of fans. How do you keep these fans engaged while bringing in new listeners?
That’s a really good question because I was away for nearly twenty years doing other things. It’s quite amusing when I read online about someone making a big comeback after two years… try twenty. So I’m grateful that anyone is still around that, you know, remembers my music from the first time around and is neither dead nor in jail. The challenge, of course, is appealing to a younger audience. There’s so many choices now for them, and why would they be interested in somebody that their older brothers and sisters and maybe their parents listened to, so that’s really the challenge. I’m delighted to say that my gigs have quite a cross section of ages and a wide spectrum of different types of people there.
Radiohead’s music spans several generations of listeners, and you recently entered a remix contest for the song “Nude”. What was that experience like?
Actually, it was quite, I mean, initially, I was just curious because I read that they were doing the contest. I found out that on Itunes, you can download individual stems from the record, the guitar part, the bass, the keyboards and so on. I was just interested in listening to their tracks stripped down. I like their music very much, so I downloaded the separate stems and, before I knew it, I was doing my own remix. I entered it along with several thousand others, and I think it got in the top 20 at one point.
Have you thought of hosting your own contest where your fans can remix your music?
I have. I listened to a bunch of the other Radiohead remixes, and I am not sure how flattered the band would really have been to listen to them because… you know, the good and the bad news is there are very cheap and affordable apps these days that make it easy for anybody to get their hands on and start making their own music. The bad news is or the consequence is that there is a lot of crap out there. So I have thought about it, and there are certainly some on the new album that would lend themselves very well. I mean. I’d love to do an Evil Twin Brother remix contest.
Most people tend to be either business minded or creative minded, but you’ve been able to do both. How have you been able to weave between these two successfully?
I’m not sure that it is always successful actually. It drives me kind of crazy (laughter), but I think it’s important in this day and age that you’re able to do both because it’s so hard to set yourself apart when there is ten thousand other guys all competing for the same mindspace. A lot of young people ask if I’ve got any advice for them, and I say that you may be primarily a musician, but you have to be a business person these days as well, so it might be worth, in your schooling, to go to a business course.
Do you feel like anything your parents or someone in your youth did for you that allowed you to dabble in so many things and create music and innovate like you have?
It’s hard to say really. I think it’s in the genes partly, and I think also I started out in an era where if you weren’t one of the lucky ones that got to sign a recording contract and got to record in a studio then if you had some kind of talent, you were guaranteed some sort of an audience. In those days, relatively few artists got to put out records. Things have changed now, and there is much more of a level playing field, and I think that’s great because I don’t see why artists should have to be fighting the industry in order to get themselves heard, but I think it makes it much harder to differentiate yourself and stand out from the crowd.
Your storytelling, your songwriting, your lyrics are strong throughout your musical repertoire. These elements seems to be missing a lot today in pop music. Can you give us some insight into the process of putting together a unique piece of music?
I’m not sure if there is a single process really. I am writing songs all the time in my head. I don’t usually sit at the piano and do them or with a yellow pad. That’s the typical vision of a songwriter. I write songs while I am staring over the ocean or in the shower or driving my car or walking on the beach, and I’m forming these songs in my mind all the time. Very often, by the time I ever sit down to actually record them or arrange them, they’re fully formed in my imagination, so decisions are really simple: something either fits or it doesn’t like a sound or part or a choice of a guest musician. There’s room for experimentation, but each song has a really individual flavor to it, so there’s no real single process. I like varying my process and breaking my own formulas.
You have turned a lifeboat into a recording studio. When creating this space did you do so in a way to inspire your creativity?
It’s full of things that I love, and I’ve collected bits and pieces over the years that are sort of decorating the life boat, so I’m surrounded by all my toys, and, on top of that, I have a fabulous view over to where they are building one of the largest wind farms in Europe. I’d watch all the coming and goings of all the different, strange vessels that are used to build a wind farm out in the middle of the sea, and that’s kind of a lifelong dream because, if you remember, I wrote the song Wind Power in 1981, I think, so I am sort of delighted that that era has really come to be. Also, I’m close to one of the largest container ports in Europe, and I see these massive container ships going in and out which, in different shades of the light, look like floating cities unto themselves, and that was really how the concept of the floating city came about.
You have mentioned before in other interviews that, while you appreciate the city, you are more comfortable in nature. When you are creating music, are there any instruments that you tend to go to create a city vs. a more natural landscape?
I tend to go to more of an electronic arrangement and a bit more of a groove when I’m doing the city and organic instruments for the countryside, but there’s no set rule to it. For example, there’s a song on the album, Toadlickers, that has an electronic sequence behind it, but it’s also got a fiddle, dobro and accordion on it, a cowgirl backing vocalist and so on, so I also like to mix my sound up.
What can listeners expect from your 2012 Moogfest performance?
I’m still open-minded about that. When I was invited to do Moogfest, I was sort of thinking well, I better favor my more electronic stuff which was generally the earlier stuff, but a couple of people have told me that you can maybe refute this or back it up. The spectrum of music at Moogfest is very wide now, so there’s no particular need for me to cradle my electronic stuff. They said just do your thing, and people will go along with it and know there is an electronic underpinning to what we do.
Are there any artists you are looking forward to seeing yourself at Moogfest?
I’m interested to see Primus. I like what they do. That’s the only one I have taken note of. Obviously, I don’t have complete freedom. I have my own schedule there. Hopefully, I will be able to wander around stages and see a couple of new acts and get introduced to some new music.
You’re known to collaborate with a wide variety of artist. Who have been some of your favorites?
It’s always great to meet your heroes. Over the years, I have met most of mine. I really enjoyed working with David Byrne at the TED conference when my house band arranged a portion of Nothing But Flowers, and he came out and sang it. That was great. I loved working with Bowie at Live Aid, him being a teen idol of mine, and playing songs like Heroes and Rebel Rebel was really a dream come true. I get very stimulated by working with a variety of different artists and seeing how they work and it forces me again to break my own formulae and dig deep to come up with a different side to my music.
Are you currently working with anyone or is there anyone that you hope to work with in the future?
We’re still in the Map Of The Floating City era, so I’m still out there working on that, promoting that and playing songs from that album. I would imagine that, early next year, I will start working on a new project. I’ve actually been making a short film. There’s been sort of a revolution going on in digital filmmaking which is very comparable to what happened in the music world about 20 years ago where production techniques and equipment, that previously you would have to be part of a huge organization to have access to, suddenly has gotten very affordable, so lots of talented people get to make their own films. So, I am sure there will be a lot of mediocre junk out there, but there will also be some undiscovered talent who will come to the floor that may have never gotten a chance 20 years ago.
Can you tell us anymore about this film that you’re talking about?
I’m shooting it around where I live in East Anglia in England. I live in a very unusual area which is not the England of picture postcards. It’s not the Cotswolds with the rolling green hills or Buckingham Palace. It’s a very exposed piece of coastline which has been vulnerable to invasions going back to the Normans and the Vikings through Napoleon and Hitler, it’s got a lot of history, my coast. I find it a very inspiring place to be, so it’s pretty much about my life there, but it’s Impressionistic. I think it may end up as some kind of hybrid performance, projecting the film and playing the soundtrack live.
We have some fun questions that we kick around with our readers just to get their feedback, and it would be great to see on which side you come down.
Which are creepier, snakes or spiders?
I think spiders. I am kind of fond of snakes actually.
Do you have a favorite drink?
Earl Grey Tea.
1) You have a history of providing an intense visual experience at your live shows. From where do you draw inspiration for this?
I delegate! I don’t make the visuals myself, but rely on artists such as Zebbler, Pixel Addicts or Lucent Design to come up with something suitable to accompany the music. I don’t involved too heavily, because i think you need to give an artist as much freedom as possible to be able to express themselves without stifling creativity. I will comment if i actively dislike something, or i can provide feedback on stuff i particularly like. For the current Masquerade tour i sent a massive list of keywords, with links to pictures, such as: druggy, sacred geomtery, steampunk, twelve monkeys, DMT, Fetish, Salvador Dali, Dark - but not scary, Surreal, Alien technology, Electronic, Organic, Photorealistic, Orgasmic, Storm Thorgerson, Chris Cunningham, Nature, Cyborg, Particle Physics, Science, music of the spheres, Outer Space, Exploration, Magritte, Escher, Symmetry, Time Travel, Tim Burton, Opiates. When we perform Shpongle Live with the full band, Raja Ram and i will find various performers, dancers and bizarre acts from the internet to join us onstage.
2) Do you ever worry about the visual spectacle overshadowing your music?
I think they should complement each other, but whether one is capable of overpowering the other i’m not certain… Can your sight overpower your hearing? They can be conflicting, which i wouldn’t be so happy with, despite the fact that this can occur during a psychedelic experience… I want them to be harmonious.
3) What is the most impressive costume you have seen at one of your shows?
A birthday suit.
4) Do you have any plans in the works to play some Shpongle live sets?
No. Raja Ram has been unwell lately, and we have no immediate plans to perform with the full band again, but that is not to say it won’t ever happen again.
5) What challenges have you encountered in organizing Twistival?
I don’t have a lot to do with the organisation, but playing for 7 hours in hot dusty conditions in Israel was quite taxing on my body. However i happen to be in most of the bands on the Twisted Records label so i don’t have a lot of choice.
6) How did you first get into eastern music?
I don’t remember a specific occasion. Do you remember how you first got into western music? I probably heard something at a festival that i liked.
7) How do your side projects differ from each other?
They differ in terms of the musicians i collaborate with. Shpongle is with Raja Ram, Younger Brother is with Benji Vaughan and Hallucinogen is only myself.
8) Has running your own label changed how you create your own music?
No. But i don’t have much to do with the running of the label. I just provide music for it.
9) What is your favorite Muppet?
10) Do you see a difference in the crowds at festivals versus your shows?
I suppose festival crowds are more mixed. People tend to dress up in costume more for Shpongle shows.
11) If you made a movie, what would it be about?
The two major themes: Sex and Death – Creation & Destruction. Or maybe a psychedelic porno :)
12) What do you look for in new equipment?
Character, originality, usability, and something that inspires me to play with it.
13) What was your first concert?
My parents took me to see Elton John when i was 9 years old.
14) Have you ever considered relocating from the United Kingdom?
The last two are fun questions meant to help settle some of the silly arguments we have on the site.
Soup or Salad? One of my mottos when it comes to dichotomous dilemmas is: “When in doubt, do both”. Same applies here.
How do you feel about pandas? As a man, i can relate to anything that eats, shoots and leaves!
1) Infomoog is primarily a group of music lovers who are known to festival hop together. I have read that you have been to Burning Man for several years. Can you tell us why you keep returning?
i’ve been 7 times tho i haven’t gone for several years & don’t see myself returning. for a good long while there, it was like an involuntary response to go the Burn & make the often grueling journey to the biggest most wild playground in the world to free it up at; it was all so worth it. it used to be an emancipating week that showcased art & sub-culture & the strong communities that can be founded within some organized chaos but seeing it’s inevitable change & being saddened by the amount of police presence, violence & absurd immaturity of the multi-thousands that now go has kept me away. i feel i had a whole life cycle there & really do applaud the positive release & artistic platform it has provided for me tho. it’s just not for me anymore.
2) When you decide to write a song, what is your driving force? Do you find you write better under certain emotional conditions?
my driving force is to have enjoy the process & the generous allowance to be creative. love or fear or any emotional content in between, it’s all the same. if i can feel, i can write.
3) Do you feel like any one person sent you in the direction of loving/creating music when you were young? What instrument speaks to you the most?
i’m the youngest of 3, so i had a natural desire to want to do everything my older siblings did; make art, play music, dance. piano was my 1st instrument & greatly value my early training & continued crush on it.
4) In all of the videos, you are seen bopping behind the stage, and the crowd dancing along with you. Is there any type of dance that you imagine while creating certain tracks? (ballet,hooping,tap,jazz etc)
not 1 type, i want to see it it all! if i can make music & play tunes that an animator, ballerina, contemporary, or tap dancer can all move to then somethings right.
5) Your bio mentions several beautiful places you have had residency in. Some artists see EDM as primarily industrial, a steel and metal landscape, while other artists lend you to imagine a more tranquil scenery of nature. Is there any place you have been that inspires you the most?
anytime i can be in a place that takse me out of my head & habits are where i draw from most. a recent pilgrimage in Malaysia has been incredibly significant & i try to keep that as a daily IV Drip of inspiration even when not physically there, but you know honestly… it’s special to find myself plucking influence from odd places like airport bathrooms or news headlines or the check out line at a co-op. when those rare moments happen, they are often the most gutsy & potent.
6) When not playing at Moogfest 2012, will we finding you dancing along with the crowd? If so, who are you most looking forward to seeing/hearing?
ABSOLUTELY. i’m real fond of the lineup this year; Gza, Disclosure, Actress, Richie Hawtin, Nas are the acts i will jog back & forth across the city to see.
7) Moogfest is a relatively new festival, had you heard of it before being asked to play? Do you have any expectations of the festival or its patrons?
i certainly did! the intention behind the festival alone was reason enough to bring my attention to it. having expectations are a bit dangerous but i am thrilled to see a diverse, very music driven event be so popular & noticed a lot of festivals now rely so heavily on a smoke & mirrors, bells & whistles type experience for a show. Moogfest presents music for music lovers. this i’m grateful to see & be a part of this year.
8) What Moog products do you most covet?
9) Were you a part of the raver scene in the 1990s? What differences and similarities do you see between artists and scene, then and now?
i was very fortunate to move to NYC in 95 & catch the few last good winds & wildness of the club scene there. raving way back was incomparable to raving now; not that any era is better or worse. in the past, you had no idea where the dj was, like they were in hidden elevated booths & played a minimum of 3hr sets. the diversity of the people was so crazy! you’d be amongst drags & candy necklace kids & Prada clad & co-eds… everyone there to lose it physically & mentally, there would be random fashion show walk offs in the middle of the dance floor, people walking around w/ fruit plates & champagne, AND you went to the club at 5am & left at 2pm the next day. now, the focus is fancy stage productions & bigger & badder toys to provide this “in your face” type experience. honestly.. i appreciate both & happy to have been along for the evolutionary rave ride.
10) Can you tell us more about Frite Nite and up and coming artists that we should look out for?
Frite Nite is a collective & an artist-run label. we’re unique in the fact we are honestly such core friends & support system that have an incredibly diverse palate in sound but have an undercurrent of familiarity & influence since we all met in 1 place. our recent releases have showcased a lot of different genres, sub genres, & sub-sub genre’s but all commonly interesting & new.
11) What track did you most recently add to your ipod/ipad?
Jimmy Edgar’s edit of Portishead’s “machine gun”.
12) When doing research for this interview Prince’s name came up over and over. If you and Prince were to collaborate on a previously released track of his, at your choosing, what would it be?
13) A few silly questions that cause much feuding among our members. We would like to see where you come down on these important issues:
Pancakes or waffles? Pancake wrapped Waffle
Salad or soup? Salad
Prince: Lick or do not lick (This was a debated topic before we knew of your fondness for The Purple One) Do Not, you may melt by getting to close to the source
14) Do your group of friends have any meaningless debated topics?
Anejo or Resposado?
Pantha Du Prince aka Hendrik Weber plays Friday at Moogfest 2012. He was gracious enough to answer a few questions that we had for him through email.
1) The first question is from Andrew, another site administrator - “What (other than music) influences your music?”
film, visual art, literature.
2) What was your first piece of musical equipment?
a flute when I was a child and after that, an acoustic guitar as a teenager.
3) In your bio, I read the term “avant-garde folklore”, how would you reconcile that idea since the two words are often seen as opposites?
Isn’t techno music also folklore? Well, tribal music is of interest for the moniker pantha du prince. For me, it is all one thing: a sonic manifestation.
4) You list Morton Subotnick and Harold Budd as influences. Do you plan to see their shows at Moogfest?
It would be a pleasure. The San Francisco Tape Music Center is very interesting.
5) Do you try to inspire a specific visual using your music?
There is quite a visual aspect to it. I need to take pictures and video all the time while outside and also process these pictures. I use them as an atmosphere, hanging them on my studio walls. It launches intuition in a way and gives way for sounds.
6) What philosopher have you read the most?
Most recently, I read Giorgio Agamben’s “The Man Without Content”. It is a very interesting book for artists. Before that, I was quite into Paul Virilio.
7) You recently released an LP with Stephan Abry? How was writing an album as a duo comparing to writing as a solo artist?
It´s communication and that decisions are made together. There is a level of reflection you would not have in a solitary process.
8) When can we expect the next Pantha Du Prince release?
In January 2013. Pantha Du Prince and The Bell Laboratory will release “Elements of Light”, a 43:30 min track on Rough Trade Records.
9) Your sound is often described as minimalist. Have you ever considered making songs with a bigger sound?
Listen to The Bell Laboratory release in January. Maybe that will give new terms to describe the sound.
10) What sparked your interest in the idea of black noise?
It was on my research “Poetic Words” list that I collect during the year. Of course, the landslide I found in Switzerland, where we recorded the album, was the crystallization for the word itself as time frozen sculpture of the word itself.
11) You live and work in both Hamburg and Paris. What is the best part of each city?
Paris is alive, full of speed, multicultural and has a very compressed atmosphere. It is very inspiring and has this special light that always enchants me. You wander through the streets and you find little treasures every time you are out searching.
Hamburg is more quiet but still has a very vivid nightlife. The North Sea and The Baltic Sea are very close so nature is very present. The harbour evokes the lust to travel the world every time I’m there. It is very much clear and easy living in Hamburg.
12) You have a background in carpentry. Have you recently had any projects using this?
I just built a bed for my guests. It relaxes me to build things. Sadly, there is not much time for this. I designed a shelf system and studio table system recently as well but have not built them yet.
The last two are more fun questions that are meant to help settle jovial arguments on our site.
Pancakes or Waffles?
Neither if they have gluten. Gluten-free waffles, how delicous!
What is scarier: snakes or spiders?
Both are pretty useful animals but very scary. Rather fearing the snake.