Interview: Barnett + Coloccia
I don't think we ever thought we would stop making records together. We're already planning the recording of the next one.
With their just released new album, the stunning VLF, Barnett + Coloccia, the collaboration between Faith Coloccia and Alex Barnett have created a record that evokes a vast soundtrack of vivid emotions with an electronic pulse running through it and is a fine follow up and companion to their first two albums. Gavin Brown had a chat with Faith and Alex to talk all about VLF and how the recording and creation of the album went as well as Faith’s work with her other projects Mamiffer and Mára as well as the SIGE record label and what inspires them as an artist.
As well as the interview we also have the exclusive premiere for the video for the song ‘Ill Will’, which was created by fellow sound sculptor Daniel Menche and acts as a sublime visual aid to the song.
E&D: How did you link up to make music in the first place?
Faith: Alex and I became friends around 2003 or so. I traveled by train out to Chicago from the west coast to see my cousin. he lived in an old factory building called Mr. City with some of the most amazing artists/musicians Ive ever met! He suggested I make friends with Alex, since we both played pianos and organs. At the time Alex was in Oakeater and I was in Everlovely Lightningheart, and we started hanging out a lot and our bands went on tour together and released records together. So eventually we decided to make music together. He is on some Mamiffer songs also.
E&D: You have just released your new album VLF. How did the recording of the album go, you worked with Nicholas Wilbur and Randall Dunn on VLF. How was it working with them and what did they bring to your sound?
Faith: The recording was great. We recorded in Anacortes and stayed with our great friends from The Business: Nick and Evie. I was pregnant at the time, so it was a really neat experience feeling a baby move around while recording super low bass frequencies in an old church. Working with Nicholas was great, he recorded us onto reel-to reel tape and had some really cool ideas about slowing down the tape to get good sounds etc. We have mixed all our records with Randall Dunn. He is amazing to work with. When Alex and I begin a record, we are always experimenting, and were not sure of what we have done until we mix with Randall. He can see the end-form in our experiments, and he also pushes things to extremes that we might not even think of doing. He also takes in the emotional and theoretical content of what were doing and applies that to the over all mixing of our sounds.
E&D: If you could work with anyone else, who would you choose and why?
Faith: I would love to someday work with Arvo Pärt! And I’m excited to collaborate with Monika Khot!
E&D: This is your third album together. Did you always plan to keep working together for a number of albums?
Faith: Yes, I don’t think we ever thought we would stop making records together. We’re already planning the recording of the next one.
E&D: There are big electronic influences on the album again. What artists influenced you in this electronic direction in the first place?
Alex: My first interests in electronic music probably came from Brian Eno and David Bowie, who were kind of gateways into stranger music when I was in middle school. In addition, I always loved the electronic sounds in TV and film.
E&D: Is VLF a soundtrack album to a movie that has yet to be made?
Alex: Well, this depends if someone wants to give us enough money to make a movie. In all seriousness we have do both love score music and sometimes discuss plot elements, but I don’t think it would translate super well outside the group.
E&D: Are the scores for films an influence on your music and if so which films and composers?
Faith: I’m running out of time to complete this interview so I’ll answer this one in a short way! The good answer is too big! I will say, yes, this definitely has an influence on Barnett + Coloccia.
Alex: Sci-fi and horror movies of the 70s and 80s (Scanners has a great soundtrack, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Susan Justin’s Forbidden World, all soundtracks by Fabio Frizzi and John Carpenter).
E&D: Who did the striking artwork for VLF?
Faith: I made the artwork with salt, ashes and ink.
E&D: What does the title of the album signify?
Faith: Very Low Frequency
E&D: Are Mamiffer planning on following up to The World Unseen at the moment?
Faith: Yes, Mamiffer has a record coming out called The Brilliant Tabernacle in the fall of 2019.
E&D: Mamiffer toured the UK and Europe with SUMAC a few years ago. How was that experience?
Faith: That was such a great experience! Aaron, Nick and Brian are some of the best people to be on tour with, I feel very fortunate to be surrounded by such nice, talented caring people. I was 28 weeks pregnant at the time of that tour, and so it was an awesome challenge, and a really special thing to share the experience with an in-utero baby!
E&D: What inspires the music of Mamiffer?
Faith: Mamiffer started as an outlet for me to make music separate from my then bandmate in Everlovely Lightninghearrt (Hydra Head). There was music I was making that was more composed vs. improvised (as we were doing in ELLH) and I wanted to have a home for my compositions and ideas. The main inspiration was getting to know my inner voice, following my intuition, and being open to vulnerability and learning my own strength.
E&D: Are any of your other bands an influence on the Barnett & Coloccia project?
Faith: Not for me! Barnett and Coloccia has always been about my friendship with Alex, and an excuse to get to hang out together.
Alex: Oakeater certainly is because we both like dark pulses! I’m sure what I do in Champagne Mirrors is bleeding over into BARCO, but I try to keep the setups and mindsets a little different.
E&D: What have SIGE Records got planned in terms of releases for the rest of 2019?
Faith: Jon Mueller ‘s Canto LP, Daniel Menche’s Melting Gravity LP, Mára’s Here Behold Your Own LP and Nordra’s Pylon lll.
E&D: How did the record label start in the first place?
Faith: I started SIGE in 2009 with the intent of only putting out small editions of Mamiffer records where I could handmake all the packaging, and then my husband Aaron joined in, and we started to put out records made by friends of ours.
E&D: How do you balance having so many projects on the go?
Faith: I wish I had more time. Somehow things fall into place and get done.
E&D: Will there ever be another Mára album too?
Faith: Yes, there is one coming out on SIGE this Summer called Here Behold Your Own, and another one is already recorded.
E&D: Is there going to be further activity from Champagne Mirrors and Oakeater?
Faith: Yes from Champagne Mirrors and Scrapes Records.
Alex: Champange Mirrors has some tracks coming out on compilations this year. LIES Records has an excellent showcase of American underground music called “EMINENT DOMAIN” that is 3LPs and a lot of good friends and co-collaborators. Public System Recordings in Europe has another comp coming “ARCHIVES DE COEUR HUMAN” that is again a big compilation with some close friends on there. Oakeater is currently dormant, but we are all friends so something may happen again in the future.
E&D: What have been the highlights of your career so far?
Faith: Music career? a couple! So many things that I love in life have come about through music and art making. Almost all of my dearest friends are the weirdest musicians, and I’m so thankful to know them. Performing live while pregnant was the biggest highlight for me.
Here are some more random meaningful events that happened because of my career choice, making music with Circle (Finland) on a giant Paschen Church organ in Pori Finland and staying with them in a little cabin and field recording snow and ice, meeting and playing music with and falling in love with and marrying Aaron, making music with my best friend Daniel Menche, becoming friends with Monika Khot, Alex Barnett, Evie and Nick at The Buisness (Anacortes), working with Randall Dunn, Marshall Trammell, Zachary Watkins, Brian Cook, Nick Yacychshyn, Jon Mueller, Tashi Dorji and so many more! Living with Jesy Fortino, and creating mischief with her, and learning how to use a 4-track. Living with Helms Alee and also creating mischief with them and our cat Pizza, touring with Aaron as Mamiffer as a 2 piece and staying in weird hotels, listening to books on tape driving through bleak scenery, staying with amazing friends along the way, and having the most metaphysical emotional talks through long stretches of highway, playing a show with Mt. Eerie, playing with Endon in the smallest weirdest underground place in Japan, meeting Tadashi and his family, and exploring Japan, sitting alone with the piano and playing for no one, just hearing and experiencing the resonance of the piano, making field recordings walking with my baby, performing live in the Los Angeles Belmont tunnel (2002?) with Chris Badger (Everlovely Lightningheart) and dragging a bunch of teachers and art students with us, playing a Mamiffer show for only the sound man with my best friend Travis in Portland, and then the best show the next day in a garage in Eugene. Going on tour as Mamiffer in Europe with ISIS (The Band) in 2009 (?) and getting to see countries I never thought I would see, and reading books for hours in back stages drinking weird tea, playing at The Estonian Orchestras practice space and watching plaster fall from the ceiling, performing in an abandoned factory in Ohio and hearing trains go by as Mamiffer was using old train samples in our performance, and them matching up perfectly, playing under the ground at Mr. City with Oakeater and driving someones mom’s van through Indiana to a show in the height of summer with so much greenery. Last night I played a SIGE Records show as Mára, and when I was done Aaron (who was watching our son) brought him over to me, it is such an amazing feeling to re-unite with my son after performing a show!
Alex: I think every recording experience is a highlight for Barnett + Coloccia. We have a great time getting together and exchanging ideas and then getting together with Randall to complete them. For Champagne Mirrors, It was a very special treat to perform in Silent Servent’s Optimistic Decay Jealous God showcase at Berlin Atonal. It was my first time performing in Europe, and the entire festival was an eye-opening experience. The venue, the huge interesting lineup, the sound systems, it was all done so well and a little hard to communicate. I’m so grateful for the the experience of flying to new places and making new friends in this context, that it is a highlight for me whenever I get to play a show out of town. Playing Heart of Noise Festival in Innsbruck, Рабица in Moscow, and both Valencia and Madrid also should be mentioned as very memorable experiences.