Steubs talks about Twin Lakes Records
1. Hi Steubs, how are you? Before we start talking about the Twin Lakes Records I would like to ask you a few questions regarding your band Myty Konkeror. Tell me about your music background.
Klemen- we are feeling great — thanks for asking. We’re very excited about what’s been going on at Twin Lakes at the end to 2011 and into 2012. Our releases from Michael Beach and Dwight Smith have been gathering a lot of listeners and well founded critical praise. Closely Watched Trains and MYTY KONKEROR are all working hard on new sounds. It’s going to be great year in sound for us! We’ve also got some great plans on new projects for Twin Lakes which we’ll keep under wraps for now!
Music Background: The other Mike and I met at University and have had a longstanding collaboration on bands and music. We started playing the music that became MYTY KONKEROR about 10 years ago and then the Twin Lakes label grew out of a desire to do something more than simply be in a band. We wanted to bring our love of sound to the next level, and develop and curate lots of sounds. It’s been so much more successful than we originally imagined- the interest from artists and listeners all around the world continues to humble and astound us.
My own music background:
As long as I can remember, I’ve always been interested in music, but here’s an unlikely story that stands out to me:
I grew up in New York City, but in a little middle class hamlet that was just as sheltered as any small town in the US. The schoolbus for my parochial school stopped on the corner in front of my house. One rainy day in the 1980s, when I was a nerdy 12 year old given to spending all my time playing Zork or Archon on our family’s home computer, I found a cassette tape by a band called Motley Crue laying in the mud at the bus stop. It was entitled ‘Shout at the Devil” and I picked it up like a little secret treasure, and later that day, alone in our basement, I just couldn’t believe how awesome it felt to listen to it over and over again! There are better and smarter moments I’ve had with music since then, but this could very well have been my rock virginity moment. There are probably a million reasons to despise Motley Crue, but Mick Mars’ riffs and rhythm can make me forget all of them while I listen to this record. Just put this record on and let yourself go and you will see!
It all opened up and listening and trying to play music started dominating all my activities: I was an 80s skate rat listening to the Cure and the Descendants, Maximum Rock and Roll reader, high school aged New York Hardcore kid, and deep lover of crust punk, Husker Du, the Minutemen, Jimi Hendrix, detuned rock, Krautrock, Psych Rock, and Willie Nelson among other things. I also fell hard for Javanese and Balinese music. There was always something new to sit down and listen to or go out and see!
Cut to 15 years later, in the 1990s and I’m sitting in a basement heavy metal bar in the East Village at 5AM, surrounded by people, rocking out again to Shout at the Devil!
I think what I’ve come to realize is that I get excited by sounds and songs, and that I’m just as easily turned on by esoteric finds and subtle harmonies as I am by big dumb moving riffs. I’m hope I’m not afraid to admit when I like things, and not afraid to let sounds inspire me. It’s all so good, this sounds world- isn’t it? I will listen with glee to Ke$ha, and I will swoon to Bachdenkel (often in close succession and to the great detriment of those stuck in the room with me.) My favorite thing about music is that there is always more, and there always will be as long as there are people.
2. How did you guys came together and form the band? Why such name?
On MYTY KONKEROR: I tried for years to not play music anymore, but kept coming back to it. Kiefer was sort of an enabler on this journey. What started as some weekend sessions became more frequent until we realized we were making full music just a two piece. That’s when we decided to also start acting like a band. Not long after that, we met Jon, who is this amazing guitarist and multi-instrumentalist, and it was so natural and fun to play together that we just kept going. Since then, we’ve had the great fortune to play with lots of people we admire.
On the name: Around the time we were pulling our songs together for the Excluded Middle, some friends and I were obsessed with a book we bought called the Encyclopedia of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal. It was such a self important and silly concept, and a real hoot to read, especially over a few beers, but the bands inside- 60s and 70s proto metal, prog rock, hair metal, etc… were just so outstanding in terms of concept and band naming. I was really struck by how much was invested in the band name and logo in these eras. It felt imperative to pick a name that stood out, that sounded fun with some swagger and the promise of iconography, and that had some of the careless spelling power of a Led Zep or Crue. We also liked having a name that sounded a bit alien, with no ready references, which in a sense freed us from any expectations of sound direction.
3. In 2007 you released your first EP called The Excluded Middle. What can you tell me about recording this EP?
The Excluded Middle was filled with tentative, impossible little songs. It was really more about ideas and experiments than a coherent statement. Many of these were ideas that Mike and I had been banging away at for a few years essentially to figure out our eventual sound. The recording style and influence comes from our attempt to figure out how two people could make music that sounded like a lot of people, but without any overdubs. We essentially recorded all the songs as live takes and rehearsed like crazy with loop pedals and delay pedals to make sure we could play all the parts live as a two piece. This mania to not overdub was my madness, and Kiefer wisely counseled against it, but we soldiered on, and ended up making ‘The Excluded Middle’.
Listening to this stuff again, these songs sounds slightly tragic—little heartfelt little failures and foibles. At the same time, I love some of those bits more than anything else we’ve done because it felt so courageous at the time to even try to make music and expect people might listen.
4. You have whole LP out called I miss the future. The album is a mixture of many different genres, that come together really nicely and capture a very interesting atmosphere on the whole LP. Tell me some ideas behind making this LP? What are the things, that inspire you the most?
Thank you for those kind words. The LP was intended to deliver a true album experience informed by ideas. I have always tended to approach the musical aspect of composition as if I were working on a sculpture or painting. Kiefer and Jon have a similar approach and we seem to gel. There’s a real sense I have of using the chords, hanging notes, rhythms, etc… to define a space, and sometimes using the space around the sound to let the structure stand out in relief. The songs were each meant to have different stylistic focal points and tempos because we were really conscious of creating a full LP, and therefore wanted there to be a sense of movement over the hour you would hopefully listen to the whole thing.
I think that many progressive rock bands did this in the 60s and 70s to the benefit of their albums.
The words and ideas that informed the music are cribbed directly from my life concerns.
I spent a lot of my late childhood fascinated by American independents and transcendentalists like Emerson and Thoreau, and struggle with forming my own notion and life of self-reliance. I went to a Jesuit school where I was challenged to think constantly about being a person who exists for others, and I think in most areas of my life I have fallen far short of this ideal. I’m blessed to be raising two beautiful and intelligent little girls with the love of my life in New York City in a funny old house we’ve essentially rebuilt nail by nail ourselves. I wonder all the time what I’ve done to make the world better, what I’m doing to make sure they have good patterns to associate with, and I also think a lot about my own pychic state at my childrens’ current young ages. It’s interesting to me that so much of getting older and feeling older, at least in United States’ culture, seems to be related to a gradual and sometimes traumatic letting go of optimism, moral certainty, teleology. I think about what we hear and read and teach our children, and how disconnected that sometimes is from the real. I think the theme of the album, even on the mostly directly narrative songs, is about trying to keep hold of what feel like real feelings or meanings of events while navigating through patterns of perception presented to us by institutions, media, and belief systems.
What are the things that inspire me the most? My wife and daughters, my parents, my grandparents, and my band mates and my friends. My dog leaping at the beach. Reading. One fun recent fascination has been the artist, David Nash- a man who introduced the term ‘wooden boulder’ to my vocabulary.
5. Do you have any touring plans or any other plans for the future?
We need to play more shows, and I suspect I’ve been the primary hindrance to touring. I can be a bit of a NY homebody. I think I need to promise my band mates to help them get out more so we can spread the word this year. Aside from that- we also plan to record more. We’ve got a number of songs and side projects we are currently formulating for release plans!
6. Twin Lakes Records is run by members of MYTY KONKEROR and Closely Watched Trains. It was founded in 2007 with the purpose of getting the music of these bands into the hands and heads of as many listeners as possible. What can you tell me about the history of the label….how did it all started and where did you got the idea?
Mike and I founded Twin Lakes, but we are essentially run by everyone who is putting music out on the label. It’s truly a shared space and idea, and we all pitch in to make it happen. We are all very busy with lives, jobs and children and other things, so pool our enthusiasm and time, and somehow we manage to have some output. I’m excited to see how far we can take the idea, and committed to building slowly into a catalog of sounds and hopefully other works that will still bear interest years and years from now.
It’s exciting to be interviewed by you right now, but it will feel truly exciting and successful if someone like you tries to find us to interview about Twin Lakes and its bands when we are 60.
7. You have some really interesting stuff on the label. Please present some of them to the readers of It’s Psychedelic Baby Magazine…
The thread we hope unites our very diverse roster is love of sound, and creation of sounds where the feeling of love comes through. I very much believe in being a hopeful and constructive voice in the world, and I think all of our artists in their own way seem to wear very big hearts on their sleeves. The other commonality I see, which was unplanned when we founded the label, is that we all seem to be songwriters as much as we are rockers.
MYTY KONKEROR fill your head woozy with augmented chords, percussion, and questions.
Closely Watched Trains is slyly sophisticated American Music. Music that’s feels so right, it’s easy to mistake as simple. Their upcoming release is going to blow people away.
Electric Jellyfish — Raw, elemental, and shears off your ears to make room for your smile. The CD that still hasn’t come out of my car stereo 2 years running.
Michael Beach — Direct, intimate and timeless and true. Brings the little chills you remember when we first realized you liked music.
Dwight Smith: Sad, hopeful, gorgeous songs…fragile exhilaration. Insane talent.
8. What can we expect from the future?
Everyone at Twin Lakes will keep making sounds we like- and we’ll all keep looking for new sounds we like that other people are making! We also need to play out more and put out more records and bands.
9. Thank you very much for the interview and presentation! Would you like to share anything else?
We just want to thank you and your readers for taking the time with us, and we want you to listen to us and have fun with music! We are impressed with the range of taste in interesting music you go after with your magazine, and we are also really honored to be interviewed as a band and a label in the same company as some of our favorite bands and so many different eras. Your interview roll reads like a list of my idols, favorite records, and records I wish I had! We think you have the right idea to promote good, vital, interesting music, regardless of age or current styles, and we’re glad we fit into that picture!
Interview made by Klemen Breznikar / 2012
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