of the South Florida Sceneis a weekly column devoted to the
artists thriving within Broward and Palm Beach counties featuring
interviews with the folks making it happen. This week, former West Palm Beach residents Hear Hums.
Hear Hums stretches the boundaries of a proper band to include a multifaceted,
multimedia project, all the while drawing comparisons to spinning and movement. The name, coupled with the music's constant
drones conjures a quiet,
inner spiral downward. Originally Mitch Myers' project, Kenzie
Cooke and Marcos Gasc got involved specifically to play live and
contribute dreamy visuals. From there, they've amassed enough blog traction that it's surprising their
upcoming album, Psyche Cycles, is self-released. But the kinds
of visions and soundscapes they evoke on their own need no reworking or
mastering, only a larger arena for display -- a forest would be good. In
light of their recent relocation, we exchanged a few emails with
current band members Mitch and Kenzie to get some background on the
New Times: I heard you formed when you had to play an
art show and needed visuals -- so were you making music already? And
were Kenzie and Marcos already making music and art as well? How did
you get together?
Mitch Myers: I've been making music since I was something
like 11 years old. Through the years, I've made music through a lot of
different means, but I always wanted to be in a band with other people.
I pretty much had a split between making electronic music on the
computer, and then I made my acoustic music with guitar and other
instruments for a long time. When I was 14 or 15, I got some
microphones to record; it took a while, but I sort of blended both
worlds. I had what became Notions Shift at Tryptamine Bay
pretty much complete before Kenzie and Marcos joined. How it came to be
was that I was asked by this lady Talya to do ambient music for an art-exhibit-type thing; it happened twice. The first time, my friends Tyler
and Chelsey came along with Marcos and Kenzie, and it was just us
passing a guitar around or something like that. The second art showcase,
it was just Kenzie, Marcos, and me. I would get a loop of reverse
guitar melodies going, and then we all played percussion. It came out so
naturally and was so much fun; before then, Kenzie and Marcos both
hadn't done anything seriously with music. I thought it'd be really
great to have them help me perform Hear Hums songs live, and they were
excited about the idea. From there, they just kind of integrated into
the band. They were both more into film, so once we started playing
shows together, we got the idea to film and project visuals that synced
to our live set.
On your Myspace, next to "band members," it lists you and Kenzie
as the only two members -- so I'm curious about where you're all living
and how you're working together. Also, a question for Kenzie -- since
she and Marcos were into film before Hear Hums, what was she working on
individually prior to getting involved with you guys?
Kenzie Cooke: Right now, Mitch and I are living together in
this really narrow house in Gainesville. We moved here to get into some
new surroundings -- a fresh start to be in some concentrated creative
zone to regroup and work on new stuff and get serious. Prior to
joining Hear Hums, I was just getting into film and cinematography,
editing and whatnot. I did a few small projects on my own, but working
on the Hear Hums projections really defined my vision as far as visual
art. Marcos was into film as well, although I had never collaborated
with him prior to Hear Hums. Now I feel like Marcos and I work really
well together on regards to film, but he's in New York now.
The projections plus the music create a heady atmosphere. Talk
about the symbiosis of the different kinds of art you guys are
Kenzie: I tend to think of what we do and
what we are -- and I think Mitch shares this perspective -- less in terms
of bandness or songs or music and more in terms of soundscapey,
multimedia art. Once we were referred to as "loud fucking art" and we
both resonated with the term. Seeing as we feel more comfortable in
that vein, it makes sense that our work extends through auditory
documentation and merges with optical stimulation. The visuals work to
enhance the overall experience; they are a natural extension of the
music, the transcribing of hums, pitch, and drums to colors, shapes,
and textures. A lot of thought and effort are put equally into each
medium, rounding out and completing what we're each trying to
accomplish separately through our respective lenses and together as a
duo. We're not so much out to create an atmosphere as much as just
following a natural progression. An atmosphere, maybe, in the sense of
filling up and occupying as much of your consciousness as possible in a
small time frame through as many senses as are recordable. Loud art,
in other words.
By the way, we will be releasing videos online to go with a bunch of songs off Psyche Cycles so that attending a live show isn't the only way to get the whole experience.
Where is the music itself coming from? Ambient noise is popular, and
you've been compared to Animal Collective, but I hear very complicated
soundscapes when I listen to you guys; it sometimes reminds me of some
of William Basinski's works. What are your musical influences, as well
as those that are more mental or emotional, that create these kinds of
Mitch: I think there is a foundation of music that I
listened to in my teenage years, and even when I was younger, that has
helped me make certain choices or that's influenced my approach and
process to music-making. While Kenzie and I both are into Animal
Collective and other genre-fusing bands, I think that it is music like
IDM, classical, and indie pop that has most influenced me. It's gotten
to a point with my music-making process that I don't really consciously
go through other people's music looking for the textures, arrangements,
and progressions I want in our music. Now I draw more from memories,
concepts or ideas I believe in, and what I think is important to pass
on -- non-musical influences. I rely more on visualizing an idea in my
head, kind of how the sounds would look like, feel, and fit together,
more in images and fractured sounds than literally hearing a song in my
head before I make it. I am definitely still on quest for new music,
but I rely more on building on ideas and concepts in my own world
instead of looking for other places for what I should want to achieve.
Besides a feeling or the visualization of a particular idea, what are other non-musical influences you draw on -- books, films?
I like to read about global conspiracy, secret technology, mass
manipulation, dark stuff like that. For the light side of things, I'm
into reading about frequency and consciousness, astral projection, and
more spiritual stuff. Psyche Cycles, to me, is more about
emotions, feelings, memories, and experiences, personal stuff. Going
forward there's always going to be those personal things that evoke
music, but what I'm into or what is important to me influences how I
visualize the music I want to make in the future.
You have an album that came out last year, Notions Shift at Tryptamine Bay. Tell me about the process of making that.
Mitch: Notions Shift at Tryptamime Bay
was self-released. I used some of my friend Kristin Ridge's photos for
the album art and put it together and had physical copies of the album
made. We ended up releasing the album online for free so everyone that
wanted to could hear it.
I have a huge collection of songs I made in the transition process
from acoustic and electronic separately into a process that included
both worlds. "Collocational Time Systems" is the oldest song on Notions Shift At Tryptamine Bay
and marks the beginning of a time period of taking music-making more
seriously. And I think I just naturally got into the mixing process of
it too, from my liking and making electronic music, editing, and
sequencing and changing how things sound together. Ever since I was
little, I wanted to make an album; I started out making rock songs with
friends in my neighborhood in middle school. It wasn't until last year
that I could put it all together in a way I felt was a complete work,
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Aside from the videos you will be releasing, what else are you
working on now -- in terms of another release or new tracks? When will Psyche Cycles be released?
Mitch: As far as new stuff we're really just in sketching stages and jamming. Psyche Cycles, which has been in the works since February of 2009, has just been completed. We'll be releasing that soon.
Check out Hear Hums' blog.