Musique-Chroniques (Switzerland). DEE interview November 18, 2006.

translated by Magali Surcin. French original can be found here: http://www.musique-chroniques.ch/woven_hand.php

 

As Woven Hand plays the Romandie in Lausanne, their charismatic leader DEE talks about what he’s been up to this year, his tour, his creative process and ongoing projects. While his persona is awe-inspiring, off-stage, he is surprisingly approachable and humble. He chooses his words carefully, and sometimes takes a few moments of reflection before answering our questions.

 

You have spent most of this year touring. How was it?

 DEE: This is our fourth European concert, we were in Germany yesterday. Before that, I spent about 4 weeks at home, after an American tour on my own with Serena Maneesh.

 

Can you see a difference between touring Europe and the States?

 

Touring the USA is more expensive, and it’s a bit more difficult, because of distances, but the audience is nice, especially on the East and West coast. But I spend most of my time in Europe, I guess more people want to hear us there, and the audience is nice wherever we go, which is why we keep coming back.

 

It is quite surprising to hear that you’re more successful in Europe than in the States, although you come from Texas [sic], and the Midwest tends to be more religious than Europe or big cities. How do you explain that?

 

I can’t explain that (laughing) – [translator's note: maybe because he himself didn’t know he came from Texas?]. No, really, I can’t explain how it works or why we’re successful in some places rather than others. I’m sure there are a lot of factors involved. I’m just happy whenever people want to hear us.

 

Your performances on stage are always very intense. How do you feel after a concert?

 

Actually, after a concert, I just feel like going to bed, but the night isn’t over, we still have to take our equipment back to the bus. I listen to music and try to relax, but I’m usually so spent that I go to sleep.

 

And how do you feel during concerts?

 

I don’t really know how I feel, I don’t focus on that. I feel the music and everything that the songs imply, but I can’t really put words on it. I don’t really think about it, it just happens and that’s it. I already do a lot of things at the same time, as I have to sing and play different instruments, and that’s enough to keep me busy! I do my job, and that’s difficult for me, because I’m not necessarily good at what I do, so I have to stay very focused. And at the same time, I go where the songs take me.

 

Let’s talk about your new album. What does its title, Mosaic, mean?

 

It means different things to me. My wife came up with the title, but I was originally thinking of a different title. She does mosaics herself, and we had tried to make some together. The underlying idea is to gather broken pieces and create something whole. That’s the way the songs on the album were created, they were scattered pieces that formed a whole once they were put together. There’s also the connection with Moses and the tables of the covenant.

 

Mosaic seems to draw inspiration from European folklore. How are you connected to this music?

 

I listen to a lot of medieval music, as well as traditional Native American music and traditional music from all over the world in general. Folklore of any kind has always been on top of my list. This is where I come from, in a way, and this is what 16Horsepower represented, and I like showing different aspects of my personality. I’m particularly fond of medieval music, because of its simplicity: heavy percussions, constant sounds like drones, and simple melodies.

 

You sometimes use antique instruments on your albums. Did you do that on Mosaic?

 

I didn’t use many on this album. There’s a fair amount of hurdy-gurdy, more so than on the other albums. A Swedish friend who played with 16HP for a while lent me an instrument; it’s a sort of mix between a hurdy-gurdy and a violin. I also used different Indian percussions and a little Russian harp that belongs to my son.

 

What was the creative process behind that album?

 

We’d already played some of the songs on stage, and then we recorded them. I worked on the others at home, and one or two were done directly in the studio. I generally use a Dictaphone to record myself.

 

What inspires you?

 

I don’t know - everything inspires me. Depending on the moment, everything inspires me one way or another. Being alive and going through life is enough to inspire me, although books and art do influence my mood and tend to have an impact on the way I write.

 

How do you transform your ideas into songs?

 

I always write the music first, I very rarely write both music and lyrics at the same time. Apart from that, I have a notebook on which I keep writing sentences or words that I’d like to use, and then I insert them into the music, like a jigsaw puzzle.

Often, the music isn’t a reflection of the lyrics, as I intentionally cultivate the discrepancy. Lyrics are very important to me, and they are important in all the songs I listen to. They are important to me, yet at the same time I’m not saying that they are important to everybody or that you should listen to me.

 

Can you tell us more about Puur, your new project with dance company Ultima Vez?

 

Actually, I’ve only recorded a bit of music. It’s a dance show, but it’s also a movie. I wrote music for Puur and I also used music from other bands. Some tracks are similar in spirit to songs from Mosaic, although I haven’t done any singing on the album. It is a compilation bringing together different artists and different projects I’ve worked on, and it is completely instrumental.

 

As of yet, the only way to buy the album is through mail order from your record company. Would you like to see it more widely distributed?

 

I really don’t know. I don’t see it as an album of mine –it belongs to Ultima Vez, and I think they sell it during their shows, but it’s not something I wanted to release only under my name.

 

You are often compared to Sufjan Stevens in terms of faith, what do you think of his work? What kind of music are you listening to at the moment?

 

He is extremely creative, and among artists who openly sing about their faith, he probably is the most talented. He is brilliant. I’m currently listening to Suicide. As for new bands, I don’t even know…

 

Do you have any ongoing projects?

 

My work with Ultima Vez has now been completed for a good while. We are currently touring a lot. I have recorded a few bits of song on tape, but there is nothing definite. We might release another album next year.

 


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