I originally met Paris Mancini of PSIRENS back in March when I invited her to open for GRYGRDNS' Seersucker single release at Iconik. Caitlin Brothers (ppoacher ppoacher) had said "think of tUnE-yArDs meets Kate Bush" to describe PSIRENS and based on that description alone I was sold (that and Brothers has impeccable taste). Her live performance that night blew me away, being both intimate and immense, etherial and brash, experimental and accessible. When she shared with me her latest effort, a 5 song collaborative split with Slow Proteo, the dark, solo experimental-synth project from Bay Area's Ian Avery, I rushed at the opportunity to be involved in the release, which comes out this month on Dec. 16th.
Entitled Mountain Music, the release is an ideal introduction to Mancini's dynamic vocal stylings and intricate looping work, which is effortlessly matched by a dark and dancy backdrop of synth layers and beats produced by Slow Proteo. The release features two highly-stylized covers: "Falling" by Julee Cruise & Angelo Badalamenti and "Ramblin' Man" by Hank Williams III. The former was made infamous as part of David Lynch's cult 90's show Twin Peaks and the duo conjures every bit of Lynch's high-strangeness, even composing the cover in Snoqualmie Falls where it was filmed. The re-imagined "Ramblin' Man" cover is equally haunting, with Mancini's low crone over a wash of ambient synths and guitar (featuring Mika Tarkela) which is reminiscent of both Washington state's dark, mysterious fog and the bewitching quality of Carla Bozulich's experimental work.
The three original tracks off of the split ("Stars," "MNTN" and "theMotions") inspire the same shadowy groves explored in the covers, with each track illuminating additional layers of Maninici and Avery's creative depths and experimental-yet-still-catchy sensibilities. Together with "Falling" and "Ramblin Man," Mountain Music proves to be an exemplary work of collaborative songwriting, equally showcasing the talents of PSIRENS and Slow Proteo. To get more insight into the release and learn a bit more about the history of PSIRENS I asked both Paris Mancini and Ian Avery a few questions. Here is that interview in full:
Matron Records (MR) - Paris, looping is an integral part of your sound and your songwriting. Live it sounds like you often build your songs from an initial loop, how do you choose the first one?
I gauge where my audience is at and start based on their vibe. Very softly if I need to quiet the room down, loud if I want to shock and engage them, it totally depends, it's synergy between them and I.
MR - In addition to songwriting, you are also a skilled illustrator and contributed many accompanying designs for Mountain Music's artwork. What’s the difference in your creative thought processes when making music vs. when illustrating?
PM - For me music is so performative and emotive, making visual art is expressive in a more internal way. You have to be quite still, and it's usually not a social way of art making. Performing live and even practicing music is cathartic in a totally different way, for me it releases endorphins like sex or scream therapy.
MR - Ian, can you describe your creative process with Slow Proteo?
Ian Avery (IA) - Process is a strong word for how my songs get created. It’s hard to nail down but the general end goals of a track are either pure escapism or a desire to channel some of my existential wonder and dread. Tracks usually start with a single riff or vocal sample, then I hear complimentary sounds in my head and try to recreate them. This processes continues and I attempt to weave in some modality and music theory but to be honest it’s mostly trial and error. I often end up with a few moments where the song becomes a layered wall of sound, and the work comes in tying those climaxes together. It would probably be more efficient to follow conventions of some electronic genre like house so I don’t have to reinvent the wheel each time, but I’m a bit stubborn and tend to resist structure.
MR - Mountain Music is a highly collaborative work between PSIRENS and Slow Proteo. Can you describe some of the inspiration behind it?
IA - I didn’t write lyrics or sing any vocals, the inspiration for the music is introspective for me, a collection of my experiences. I feel like the instrumentals reflect my mental state over time, cycling between periods of calm and overstimulation.
We wrote the title track when Paris and I were recording the split in rural Washington at the end of our tour. I made a weird little beat with the moog and asked Paris to sing over it, improvisnig, she sang the word 'mountain' and tied phrases together with some calming nonsense syllables. It seemed to capture the essence of the album: a metaphor for music created during personal growth, the liberating sensation of driving north through the Redwoods, the growth of our friendship over tour.
MR - The tour you mention took place earlier this year and took you through the US and Mexico. Can you share some of your favorite memories from that tour?
PM - One of the most unexpected moments for me was when we were driving through the redwoods in Northern California and Ian played me some "tame impala" who I had never really given the time of day to before. And time seemed different, space seemed different, the trees stretched into notes as we drove on the Avenue of the Giants. It was magic.
IA - Some of the best moments of tour for me were in Mexico, especially our shows in Juarez and Chihuahua. Seemed that people were less self-conscious and more able to lose themselves in music than in the US. Everyone I met was outgoing and put my introverted self at ease. I remember one moment specifically: making friends with a mangy stray dog at the single gas station between Juarez and Chihuahua both on the way there and back.
MR - I know you are a huge Twin Peaks fan, as am I, and that is apparent in your cover of "Falling" by Julee Cruise. We are also decorating the venue for the release show in a Twin Peaks theme as further proof of our mutual Lynch-fandom. What is your favorite Twin Peaks scene and why?
PM- There are too many, but one that comes to mind this moment is when there's a secret night time meeting happening between the kids at the Roadhouse and the Bookhouse boys are there undercover. Julee Cruise is playing her slow sad mermaid music and all these bikers are slow dancing and drinking beer. Then a fight breaks out and Julee continues, the dancing doesn't stop. That's rich. Also the Giant is genius. I never get enough of that show.
The split will be released on Friday, December 16th with a Twin Peaks-themed party in honor of "Falling" by Julee Cruise at Zephyr in Santa Fe. Featuring a special joint performance by PSIRENS and Slow Proteo, Matron Records' own Twilight of The Idols as well as locals Grove of Baal open.
To stream tracks from the Mountain Music, visit the bandcamp page.
To listen to more PSIRENS visit her bandcamp page.
To listen to Slow Proteo visit his soundcloud page.
PSIRENS + Slow Proteo
Split Release Show
w/ Spirit Of..
& Twilight of the Idols
TWIN PEAKS THEME
Friday, December 16th
Zephyr - 1502 Center Dr. #2
Santa Fe, NM
7PM | $7 | ALL AGES
For more info visit the Event Page.