Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Baker's Dozen: Interview with The Delta Mirror

Consider this the calm before the storm or perhaps, more appropriately, the medical school before the residency in the emergency room. With SXSW, an album release and a residency at the Echo in Los Angeles all happening in March, things are about to get hectic for The Delta Mirror (whose track "He was worse than the needle he gave you " was part of our February Love Potion Mix). Recently I had the chance to interview (via email) the band as part of our Baker's Dozen series on Write.Click.Cook.Listen.

TB: Who is The Delta Mirror and how did you guys begin making music together?
TDM: We're Karrie, Craig and Dave. Dave and I have been writing music together since I can remember only it started out unrecognizably different. It became apparent that we couldn't really do everything we wanted once we started playing live. Karrie's added a lot to our sound. Our lower frequency parts tended to be more drony and less groovy until she came along. I think it's a good mix.
TB: You and David started as a hip hop duo in the late 90's. What elements of hip hop do you incorporate into The Delta Mirror?
TDM: I guess it throws people when we say we used to make hip hop, but we had more noisy electronica sensitivities even then, so the stuff we were doing might not be what some people are picturing. We're not pulling tricks out of our 90's repertoire or anything. We're not even sampling anymore really. I think Dave just comes from that world as a producer just like I do as a writer. It turns out Karrie was listening to some of the same stuff during those years. Some of the most exciting music that came out in the mid/late 90's was made from records and samplers.
TB: Your Myspace page mentions the Big Pink and Fuck Buttons as bands that you share a common interest with. What similarities exist between you and those two bands? How is the Delta Mirror different?
TDM: That's really just for PR purposes, so that writers have a sound to reference, but those are bands that we all have a lot of respect for. I think we're obviously a lot different, but it seems they have a similar approach in some areas. Our new material probably lends it self more to that comparison.
TB: You are preparing for the release of your first LP Machines that Listen, an album that contains 9 tracks each about a different room in hospital. Were you guys spending a lot of time in the ER when putting this album together?
TDM: No nothing like that. I wrote "Malpractice" about a girl who lives in a hospital, then I wrote "He was worse than the needle he gave you" about someone identifying a body in a Morgue and realized that I had a theme going and wanted to see if I could keep it going. Those were the only two songs on the record that came from real people and real experiences. The rest are fiction.
TB: "And the radio played on" explores a dying elderly man's last moments with his wife. It is an emotional song (both lyrically and musically) but doesn't over do it. Was there ever a point in the writing of the songs where you felt you were overdoing it and had to take a step back or scrap something entirely? What is your secret for finding just the right amount of emotion?
TDM: We just all tend to write really moody stuff I think. The concept added to that though. I was thinking that The emotions that are felt in a hospital are felt in a pretty extreme way. Where but in a busy ER can you find that brand of fear? And could any day to day pleasantry outshine the happiness in a maternity ward? There aren't really any exceptions to this rule either. "A Room for Waiting" is about the frustration of a patient waiting to be seen. That one comes from personal experience too actually.
TB: The band has received a lot of attention recently from music sites such as Pitchfork, My Old Kentucky Blog and Stereogum. You've also gotten some love from Urban Outfitters. Is this something you sought out or did this exposure just sort of happen? What type of response have you gotten from fans?
TDM: I think we have Lefse to thank for that. They're a great label, and have put a pretty good team together to promote this record. That sort of stuff rarely ever just happens, but now that it's starting to, we're getting a really good response.

TB: There are plans for an album full of remixes from Machines that Listen, later this year. What can you tell us about that?
TDM: We'll be announcing the track list soon, but so far we have one from Alias that you can hear on Stereogum (click on link). You can expect to see tracks by Boom Bip, Bomarr Monk, Phaseone, City Light, Odd Nosedam, Healamonster & Tarsier, Thriftcar and Bus Driver. There will be a few more by the time it's released as well. I think hearing someone else's version of our song is the most flattering experience I've ever had.
TB: Days after the release of Machines that Listen you will be playing some shows at SXSW. What are your live shows like? Will you do anything different at SXSW?
TDM: We actually play the songs from this record a lot differently than they are on the record. It's noisier with more guitar. Aside from some new material SXSW will most likely be business as usual, but we're trying to get a different cover ready for each night of our residency.

TB: Speaking of covers, you do a version of TV on the Radio's "Blind." What is your take on cover songs? Any other covers that are regular part of your repertoire?
TDM: We just try to take a song and do it the way we would have written it I guess. I don't want to ruin the surprise, but we have a few good ones. We're recording them all to give away as a free download soon. TV on the Radio is done and should be up soon.
TB: What are the bands plans for the rest of the year?
TDM: Well we'll put out the remixes and collection of covers and then this summer we're doing a full US tour. We're also hoping to quit smoking and start eating better.
TB: Does The Delta Mirror get to do much cooking? Any special recipes you care to share?
TDM: On a good day we'll be eating Quinoa with Tofu, Kale and homemade sauce. On an EVEN BETTER day we'll be mixing macaroni noodles with butter, soy milk and nutritional yeast to make the best mac 'n "cheese" ever!
TB: Anything else you would like to say?
TDM: Boobs
Here is a video of The Delta Mirror performing a live acoustic version of "Hold Me Down Just Don't Let Me Go."

A Song About the End live @ Mountain Bar Los Angeles

the delta mirror | MySpace Music Videos

Their song "It was Dark and I Welcome the Calm" posted at Above the Fold.

The Delta Mirror-It was Dark and I Welcome the Calm