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interviews, conversations

Pour bien écouter un disque nouveau, se mettre au diapason.

Un très beau dessin de l’artiste Iker Spozio donne le ton: Sleepworks s’écoute au rythme d’un coucher de soleil rougeoyant, dans le Colorado peut-être, car Khale est originaire de Denver. Le disque dure trente-cinq minutes, le temps de vivre la lente disparition des derniers rayons du soleil par un beau jour, les couleurs de feu qui changent à chaque minute, la chaleur rayonnant du sol une fois l’ombre installée.

Dix titres chantés dans du coton, dix mélodies de pop/ambient composées à la guitare puis rehaussées de claviers, avant qu’un fourmillement de sons électroniques n’y ajoute une part d’étrangeté.

Le premier titre, Garrison, par exemple, répète à l’envi quelques notes claires comme pour annoncer une prochaine rencontre du troisième type. Caldas, l’histoire d’un naufrage enluminée de sons sous-marins, est comme un écho au Music for a sinking occasion de l’Altra.

Wild to see you est un bel exemple d’architecture sonore, catégorie cathédrales éphémères.

Tout au long de l’album, le soleil a rendez-vous avec la lune. Guitares et claviers, instruments familiers, sont rattrapés par des sons électroniques venus d’ailleurs, comme parfois au crépuscule un paysage familier prend des airs de territoire inconnu. Ensuite, la nuit fait son oeuvre, afin de vivre mieux le jour d’après, l’inconscient prend le relais.

Sleepworks: le sommeil au travail pour faire avancer la science des rêves.

I read that you wrote the songs alone and worked on them again with other musicians. How did you work as a team?

We started demoing the Sleepworks album two years ago. I moved from Arizona back to Colorado with about ten songs that I wanted to record properly but I wasn’t sure how I was going to do it. It was during this time that I met Jme White of the Denver band Blusom. I listened to the Blusom recordings and they were just brilliant. Jme recorded the whole album in his home studio and it sounded so great.

We started with one song and eventually had about 5 finished in the first couple months. The whole recording process was more of a collaboration of two people, rather than a typical musician/engineer relationship. Matt came in about halfway through the recording process and started playing piano and doing some programming. We started sending the album around just for fun and we got in touch withOwn Records who wanted to do it. It was a perfect fit. We didn’t really look much further.

It’s a long way from Colorado to Luxembourg. Was it a friend of a friend of a friend who introduced you?

With the internet it’s never too far anymore. I actually released an ep by myself about four years ago. which I put out online through a Belgian internet label, Sundays in Spring. The person who runs the label is a friend of Own Records. So, yes, a friend of a friend. It happened that way.

Tonight Khale was only you and Matt but for other dates there were four of you in the band.

The songs were originally written this way. more minimal and quiet. They were written on one guitar on a keyboard or a piano, very stripped down. When we started layering everything in the studio, the songs became a little faster and a little more energetic. But the songs translate well to this kind of setting (two musicians).

Do you prefer one or the other set up?

I’ll have to take the middle road. I like both but for different reasons. On this tour we played a lot of different size clubs. We had two different sets according to the venue we were playing. We could play loud with more energy in a large venue and we could also sit down and strip things down if we played in a smaller venue. The songs can be played in many ways.

How did you learn music?

I went to college on a theatre scholarship to be an actor. I started playing guitar my freshman year in college and fell in love with playing music instantly. Before I knew it I dropped out of college and started playing music full time. It just hit me really hard. I started playing late but I just fell head over heels.

Would you like to write music for movies or theatre plays?

Maybe not theatre, but movies, absolutely. In fact when we go back to the States in a few days we’re going to start working with a couple different companies that air music for various types of film and documentaries. It’s definitely something that I’m interested in, another avenue for creating. Another realm that I’m interested in exploring.

There seems to be many characters in your songs. You say « I » and « you » a lot. So who are they?

(laughs) It’s hard to say. Typically I can use « I » or « you » speaking of myself but I dont know… I try not to write too many songs about me because I feel like other people have more exciting lives than I do. I usually like to write about people who have done really extraordinary things or extraordinary things have happened to them.

Are they people in real life or imaginary?

Sometimes imaginary. I do like to read books and then write songs. I like to make a character but also to draw from experiences that I’ve had or that I know other people have had. I also draw from my dreams. I like to write in a surreal state of mind. It excites me the most.

Did you give instructions about the sleeve design?

A little bit. We worked with Iker Spozio. We were introduced to him through the label and we gave him a general idea of what we wanted in terms of colours.

We knew we wanted a landscape and we didn’t want any people in the painting for the artwork. We had an orange reddish feeling when we were recording for some reason. Fall colours. We said « we want fall colours and a landscape and you just listen to the album and you can do whatever you want ». We liked all his other works and when he sent it to us it was so perfect. It’s brilliant.

How did Brian Eno influence your work?

The four people in the band love every kind of music, but I think we can all agree that we love Brian Eno.

I don’t think people will listen to the album and say « oh these guys like Brian Eno ». I doubt you can hear it in the songwriting. But in terms of recording techniques, ways to capture sounds and overall aesthetic we draw a lot from his recordings. When we were recording Sleepworks I was listening a lot to his last album, «  Another Day on Earth » that he put out in 2005. It slipped under the radar but it’s such a great album.

Caldas is the first song on your myspace page. So what’s Caldas?

It’s the name of a ship in a book by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, The Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor. I wrote that song after reading that little novel, about this character in the book. Caldas was the name of the ship he was sailing before he was lost at sea.

What do you do when you don’t play music?

I work full time. I manage a restaurant back in Denver. When I’m not working I watch a lot of sports. I like sports and music (laughs).

What instrument would you like to learn to play?

A woodwind, would be nice, like a bassoon or a clarinet. Someday…

Do you have a large record collection?


What’s the noisiest record in your collection?

Probably a DNA or Sonic Youth record.

What’s the quietest record?

Probably the last Brian Eno and Robert Fripp collaboration called The Equatorial Stars.

Is there a record that comforts you when you feel down?

Ambient music, instrumental music. I go to sleep listening to music every night. Usually it’s ambient or piano based, like Harold Budd. Something like that.

Have you read all the reviews of the record? Do you agree with what you read?

I’ve read a little bit of reviews. I try not to read too many of them. I only read the reviews and take it seriously if I respect the writer’s opinion beforehand. Otherwise I feel like the majority of people who review records have way too much to listen to and too many deadlines to reach stuff and really can’t give it the time it needs to really give constructive criticism. I try not to think about it too much.

If you could spend one day in somebody else’s shoes, who would you be?

It would have to be someone with great power. It would be wonderful to experience that great power for at least a day, then be humbled again. Someone who has saved someone’s life, maybe a doctor or a surgeon.

Who’s your favourite monster?

« Teenwolf », in a movie from the 80s with Michael J. Fox. He’s in high school and when the full moon comes out he finds that he turns into a werewolf. It’s hilarious. He turns into this giant wolf, he’s a hot shot on campus, everyone loves him. He’s a star basket ball player. It’s awesome. That’s my favourite monster.

Who’s your favourite superhero?

I grew up reading comic books so I have quite a few. My all time favourite would have to be Gambit from the X-men. He wasn’t in the movie but he was in the comic book. He had a deck of cards and everything he touched turned into an explosive. He was very suave, a ladies’ man. He was very cool.

Have you learned anything today, like a realization?

Yes I learned today that I’m very fortunate to have met the people from Own Records, very fortunate to be in Europe right now. We recorded music and somehow it’s taken me to another side of the world. That’s very exciting. It was my first trip to Europe so it’s been a sensory overload.

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