looking glass + vio/miré. interview #41

Our first split interview features
1. Looking Glass, from London (the solo project of Jim Wallis from the awesome My Sad Captains, where he plays drums);
2. and Vio/Miré is Brendan Glasson, from Providence, Rhode Island.
Jim is no stranger to our blog since I've interviewed My Sad Captains and also wrote an article about his ep The First Real Target, released in August, 2010.
Brendan already has two albums released - March 2007 and January 2009 - the last, produced by Alex from Jónsi & Alex.

This release - which is out through Tip Top Recordings, a small independent label based in London - features 4 songs with a calm, intimate, almost idyllic approach to music. And both are successful when the task is to build a subtle, yet emotional, atmosphere. Don't know if this is a musical genre but each artist, in its own way, give us a very compelling slice of modern urban folk.

01. Where does the name of your band come from? What’s the aesthetics of your music?
LOOKING GLASS: I had been making solo recordings for years, without really playing them to anyone, and without giving it a name. It wasn’t until I put some music online that I decided that Jim Wallis sounded more like a plumber, less like a musician. So I used the name Looking Glass. It didn’t come from anywhere specific- I liked the sound of it, and the idea of reflection, and that was enough really.
The music uses the familiar sounds of alternative indie, indie-folk, Americana, whatever you want to call it- but both in the song itself and in the recording and arrangement, I try to do something to make it idiosyncratic and give it its own feel. I think recording and playing the music mostly myself helps make it something that is both familiar yet individual-sounding at the same time.
VIO/MIRÉ: "Vio/Miré" is pretty much meaningless in any kind of genuine linguistic sense. The words come from the Spanish ver (to see) and mirar (to look).
In the music I make I am interested in repetition and restraint. I'm interested in unifying distinct musical phrases and driving a wedge between those that are closely related. I'm often told that my songs put listeners into a kind of meditative or hypnotic state, and this satisfies me greatly.

02. Imagine that your music is a planet, landscape or any visual materialization. How does it look like?
LOOKING GLASS: My friend just went to the optician for an eye test, and they scanned her eyes and gave her these really cool pictures of them that look like weird planets. So maybe that.
VIO/MIRÉ: My music is often created by overlaying parts that have an integrity all their own. One might compare some of my processes to laying three translucent images over one another to create a complete picture. The parts retain their independence by nature of their isolated conception, but the moments of intersection and intermingling bring about a weird unity.

Looking Glass
03. You are releasing a split EP through Tip Top Recordings. How did you guys meet and how the idea of releasing something together came up?
LOOKING GLASS: My friend Barny, who runs an excellent monthly night in Whitechapel, London called Mind the Gap, mentioned Vio/Mire to me a couple of years ago and I had been listening to it online ever since. When Brendan came over to the UK on tour last summer, Barny booked us both to play and I really enjoyed Brendan's set and was pleased to be able to chat a bit and exchange CDs. When Ben from Tip Top Recordings got in touch later that year and asked about releasing a split EP, I thought it would perfect to do it with Vio/Mire- so I suggested it to Ben, who listened to Vio/Mire and was sold on the idea immediately.
VIO/MIRÉ: Jim and I met in 2010 in London. I was touring alone in Europe at the time, traveling by bus or train from city to city and borrowing instruments on the way to perform every night, and Looking Glass and Vio/Miré were billed together at a great event called Mind the Gap at a little bar called Carnivale. The show was really exciting for all of us, and I think that a number of shared sensibilities became apparent at the concert. A few months later I was approached by Tip Top about doing a split with Looking Glass, who had apparently suggested that we share the release.

04. How was the recording of the EP? Did you get together to make it or the Atlantic Ocean was between you during the creation process?
LOOKING GLASS: We did record our tracks separately. The recording of my two songs went very differently- Infinite Wisdom took weeks to get right, tinkering with the arrangement and trying out different ideas, and then If You See Something, Say Something was very simple and was played, sung, mixed and done within an hour.
VIO/MIRÉ: I suppose it is evidence of the nature of the age in which we live that I was able to do all of my recording in Providence RI USA and have the music released in the UK without so much a phone call to London, never mind a physical trip. All communication was across great distances, but we were able to keep it frequent and collaborative. We sent tracks back and forth to one another as they grew to completion until we had a product that everyone was satisfied with. I think that Jim from Looking Glass and Ben from Tip Top had a lot more face-to-face interaction than I had with either of them.

05. Can we expect more collaborations?
LOOKING GLASS: I definitely hope we'll be able to play together again when Vio/Mire next comes to the UK, or when I make it to the US. Who knows, maybe we can record something together too.

06. What are your plans for the future?
LOOKING GLASS: This summer I’m going to start work on the first Looking Glass album proper, for release at some point next year. I’m not playing live at the moment (as I’m busy with my other band My Sad Captains) but for the release of the album I will be making a concerted effort to get out and about more as a live entity.
VIO/MIRÉ: I'm responding to these questions from Chicago, where I find myself with a moment amidst a 7 week tour I am on with the great Liz Isenberg, also from Rhode Island. The tour continues to July, then it is back to Providence to do some recording in my disarmingly dungeonesque studio. Before the year is out I intend to return to Europe for another tour.

07. Name a place and time to hear your music.
LOOKING GLASS: In bed, before you go to sleep.
VIO/MIRÉ: 6:59 in the morning in a place that you know well.

08. One of the most beautiful music videos you have ever seen is…

VIO/MIRÉ: I don't know a lot of music videos, but I really like to play music I like over old videos of ballet dancers with the sound switched off.

09. Anything else you feel like saying?
LOOKING GLASS: I tried unsuccessfully to make a video for Infinite Wisdom last week with my friend Matt- a pastiche of the Radiohead video for No Surprises, where my head was in a fish tank filling up with water. I would not recommend this course of action.
VIO/MIRÉ: In the battle of man against machine I came out unscathed and clean. But O! What a hellish scene!

site (looking glass) (vio/miré)
facebook (looking glass) (vio/miré)
twitter (looking glass) (vio/miré)
tip top recordings (release soundcloud) (buy it)

ps: Thanks, Ben!

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