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A Walk Through The Tides With Sound Of Ceres

Sound of Ceres discuss their new project, 'Emerald Sea', and much more.

Curtis Ashley, Writer

Curtis Ashley

Writer

Updated

This summer, Sound Of Ceres will have us completely submerged in the ‘Emerald Sea’, and I pray that you all know how to swim. Karen and Ryan Hover, Jacob Graham, and Derrick Bozich comprise the ethereal, New York-based, auditory sensation that first incarnated in 2016. Sound Of Ceres is notorious for offering a history lesson , while at the same time, providing an experience unseen on this plane of existence. Their last album, 2017’s ‘The Twin’, featured the group exploring “the strangeness of being just one human outcome amidst an infinitude of possibilities”.

In the crashing waves of the Emerald Sea, our findings suggest Sound Of Ceres will create a vivid picture of the beginnings of man. From our descent from the stars, to the “explosion of life” underneath the water, and our journey toward the heavens, Sound Of Ceres’ new project aims to reintroduce us to the thrilling mysticism that is the lore of human activity.

For new listeners, Emerald Sea will be an adventure you will never forget. Best categorized as a “dream pop” act, Sound Of Ceres’ latest take will surely captivate you with the fantastic sounds that are already emerging with singles from the album, such as “Arm of Golden Flame”, and “The Glare”. However, those of us fortunate to have aligned with them as early as possible (and maybe even while Karen and Ryan strutted about as Candy Claws), Emerald Sea will serve as the most nourishing refreshment you will consume this summer.

Just how has this beloved band upped the ante? Karen (“K” in this interview), Ryan, and Jacob discuss many of the changes they’ve made to their music, and even themselves, since releasing The Twin. Emerald Sea is an amalgamation of talents, not limited to the members of the band. If it’s not the narration, or the unique sounds created by one-of-one instruments, there are many fish in this sea of talent. We get to hear from the artists themselves about how life has been, some of what they’ve experienced, and everything they have in store for us as we dive into the Emerald Sea.

Karen Hover (K) of Sound of Ceres
Karen Hover (K) of Sound of Ceres
Karen Hover (K) of Sound of Ceres

How has life been since the release of ‘Nostalgia for Infinity’ about six years ago? Has your individual/personal growth affected your music, especially in regards to the creation of your newest project, ‘Emerald Sea’?

Curtis Ashley

I think most of that time has been spent working on music or working on a new live show. Our second album, ‘The Twin’, came out the following year, right after Nostalgia for Infinity came out, so really, between 2016 and 2018, we were kind of non-stop. I don’t think many of us had time to really stop and evaluate what we were doing live, and how we could change it,make it better or do something different. Even musically, we didn’t really have much time to stop and reconsider a big, new sound and new direction or anything between those two records. The live show was basically synonymous between those two records. The sound was kind of similar too.

But really, after 2018 had ended, we just finished up some pretty big tours with Beach House, and then we came home and started working on Emerald Sea, but really took a lot of time with it; a lot of time writing it, just even having ideas. I think we spent a whole year just having ideas, without actually doing anything with them, which was quite great. It gave us a chance to actually grow musically, sonically, and visually – just giving ourselves enough time to allow ourselves to create something new, rather than, “Oh we just made a new record. Okay, let’s add those new songs into the live show we’re already doing.”

Having all these years between the last record really allowed us to grow musically, visually, and to make something new.

Karen Hover

I like your question about how each of our personal growth has affected the band. I think each of us have had our own personal artistic pursuits in the meantime. Jacob in the meantime has done a lot of video directing, like music videos among other things, and so this time, he’s directing two out of the three videos for the album and really “bringing it”, if that’s a term.

Ryan

We feel like we can say that because we’re not [Jacob].

K

So bragging on Jacob’s behalf, I feel like his growth as a video director has made something special for this album. For me, I just dived more into the production of the music and mixing tricks and songwriting. This time, me and Derrick, our one member who isn’t on this call, passed the songs back and forth when we were starting to write. Just little computer sessions of music and we would pass it back and forth, so it was very much a 50-50 kind of songwriting process this time. In the past it was mostly just me, and then everyone added on at the end. This time it was very much a Simon & Garfunkel type of thing, and then of course K added the melodies and the lyrics, and Jacob also worked on some melodies too, in addition to the visuals.

Ryan

Nice. So each of you have your own world of creativity going on, and then when you all get together, those spheres collide and it becomes Sound Of Ceres. Let me step back and ask, where are the three of you now?

Photo by Curtis Ashley

But really, after 2018 had ended, we just finished up some pretty big tours with Beach House, and then we came home and started working on Emerald Sea, but really took a lot of time with it; a lot of time writing it, just even having ideas. I think we spent a whole year just having ideas, without actually doing anything with them, which was quite great. It gave us a chance to actually grow musically, sonically, and visually

Karen Hover

Nice. So each of you have your own world of creativity going on, and then when you all get together, those spheres collide and it becomes Sound Of Ceres. Let me step back and ask, where are the three of you now?

Well currently, we’re at the studio space, not where we make the music, but rehearse the live show.

K

This is where we shoot the videos too.

Ryan

It’s like a big warehouse space. Our friend’s been invaluable to the live/visual side, giving us this space to prepare it all in. We’ve been here weeks and weeks, months and months at this place over the last couple of years so that’s been great.

Where do we live though? Ryan and I live in the Hudson Valley, Jacob lives down in the city, and Derrick lives in Denver. We’re all over the place.

K

I read in an interview you had with zZSounds, back in 2016 I believe, that Karen and Ryan, when the two of you were going about as Candy Claws, you’d go over to the Rocky Mountains to go on hikes, expeditions, and that would influence your music. I wanted to know if, in Upstate New York, are you guys having those same sort of experiences?

Yeah, we live in a very mountainous area so we still do a lot of hiking. I think with the Sound Of Ceres music, it’s a little more space-oriented and cosmic, whereas Candy Claws was more Earth-oriented, we were exploring different areas of the Earth. We haven’t gotten into space yet, it’s a little more expensive than just going on a hike.

Ryan

I think the first two records were really cosmic and spacey like [Ryan’s] saying, but I really think this record, it’s more mythological than cosmic. Mythological, kind of fairy realms, but with that taking place on Earth. So in a way, it’s like the halfway meeting point between Candy Claws and Sound of Ceres. Candy Claws being the actual natural history of the Earth, and Sound Of Ceres, having been in the past, much more galactic and sci-fi. I think [Emerald Sea] meets in the middle nicely.

But yeah, we love to be outside, and to go out. We live in a really wooded area, we wanted to keep that in our lives when we moved from Colorado to New York. That’s why we chose the Hudson Valley, it’s a good area.

K

I’m not familiar with the area, but it sounds very nice based on your telling. I’m glad that worked out for the two of you. I was actually really interested in these outings in nature. Even just referring to the times in the Rocky Mountains, what are some activities, if any, you do on these trips? Any meditations, making music?

No, it was just a basic hike. But, just the fact of being in these stemming surroundings was very inspirational, and trying to capture those feelings in music was a fun challenge I think.

Ryan

When you grow up in Colorado, you’re used to all summer long, being up in the mountains and going camping with friends and family, so back in the day when we had our full band as Candy Claws, we’d all go camping together a lot. We were up there a lot on hikes, 10 minutes from our house. We’d do that after school, so that was just the way of life.

We weren’t really making music up there per se, although Sound Of Ceres has a funny story about that, in a way, in terms of nature. I remember the first time we all went to Colorado together as Sound Of Ceres, because Jacob is not from Colorado, so we stopped there on tour, and we were staying with Ryan’s mom in an area where Ryan and I grew up. One night we went up to the foothills, which is basically just before you get to the mountains, and we brought a little synthesizer up and played next to the reservoir. It was so dark; it was so hard to see, and eventually we went home because we got scared. We were on the side of this mountain playing this little, tiny synthesizer that was battery operated. It was really cool, I can’t remember what it was.

K

I think we were eating jello too. A clear, cosmic jello.

Jacob

We made a clear, cosmic jello that made us feel like we were going to a special place, like we really made it ceremonious. We love to do that as a band, just create our own ceremonies, I guess. That’s an example of playing music in nature, seeing what happens.

We’ve done cave tours together as a band! When we have a tour booked, I’ll look up all the caves along the way. We had one tour that we just called, “The Cave Tour”, because every day between shows, driving from one venue to the next, I’d be like, “Alright, there’s a cave just 10 miles off teh road. We gotta get to that cave!” I kid you not, I think we went to like 20 caves on that tour, it was so crazy. We were in a cave like every day. It was so refreshing, like why not add that to your trip if it’s right there? So yeah, we’re always trying to pull nature in just to, if anything, it rejuvenates us a bit.

K

Portrait of Sound Of Ceres
Portrait of Sound Of Ceres
Portrait of Sound Of Ceres

Not a cave guy over here. More of an urban explorer. So, you do make music on those trips outdoors. However, when you’re recording, what are the conditions that are most preferable when you all decide to record your music?

A lot of it is made on the computer. We found some really good orchestral, symphonic sounds, so we would program the notes on the computer and play it on the computer, you know, sounds of flutes, oboes, harps and stuff. We got the basic sound of the record that way, just by programming it, and then we went to our friend Jon Sonnenberg’s studio in Ohio. He has this insane basement studio.

Ryan

Jon’s a really old friend of mine who’s been collecting musical instruments, and building musical instruments for the past, I don’t know, 30 years or something. And really strange stuff too. He makes instruments that are just… I don’t even know how to describe them. They’re just new things; he’s obsessed with sound, and making sound, and finding unique ways to do that.

Some of the reverbs on this record, of K’s voice, are running through old birdcages, and somehow the sounds are reflecting off all the bits of metal in the birdcages. His basement is sort of just a sound experimentation laboratory.

Jacob

So we had the songs mapped out, written, and then we went to the studio and played all these crazy instruments; played the parts to add into the songs. Jon has big timpani drums, and those tall chimes that orchestras use, so a lot of neat things like that, a lot of synthesizers too. So we started on the computer, then we added real sounds to it, then mashed it all together. A lot of post-production of editing and picking out which sounds to keep,and which to mangle in different ways. A very long process, but I think we all like different parts of that process. It all just kind of came together.

Ryan

It was really fun. We were there together for a solid week; Derrick flew from Colorado to Ohio, we picked him up at the airport. The three of us drove out from New York. At the very end of the week, We wanted to celebrate. Jon was like, “What are we gonna do? We just did this crazy thing.” We were like, we wanted to play laser tag. We love laser tag, our band is crazy about laser tag, so we’re like, “Where can we go to play laser tag?” So we found this place to play laser tag, did a laser maze and everything. It was crazy because this is literally like a week before everyone was like, “Covid is real and we need to lock down the country,” and we were playing laser tag in this place where you would get riddled with Covid. The timing was insane. But that was a really special way to tie it all up.

K

I gotta check out that Jon fellow. Does he have a website?

He has an art and travel blog. We can send you to his website. He does cool stuff; he just did a show with the Akron Ohio Symphony Orchestra, where he wrote a piece and had synthesizers and had the whole orchestra. He’s really great.

Jacob

Photo by Curtis Ashley

Some of the reverbs on this record, of K’s voice, are running through old birdcages, and somehow the sounds are reflecting off all the bits of metal in the birdcages. His basement is sort of just a sound experimentation laboratory.

Jacob Graham

Back on the note of songwriting, I know that Ryan and Derrick went halfsies on the record, primarily, but who wrote “Arm of Golden Flame”? I want to know what the Arm of Golden Flame is.

I think I did the chorus, for sure, and Derrick did the verses. A lot of our lyrics are based on Alfred Tennyson’s poetry. We really like the way that he writes. He gets into a lot of mythical things too, very visual, and a lot of it gets pretty dark sometimes. We tried to model a lot of our lyrics off the way that he would write. He even wrote several poems about “under the sea”, imagining being a merman or a mermaid or something, but in a really classy, classical way.

We tried to make all these phrases that sound like they could have been pulled straight out of mythology. I think the actual meaning of “arm of golden flame” means something different to each of us. To me, this is when the character of Venus, played by K in the album, transitions from being a star in space, in the heavens, journeys into the sea, and that’s when Venus becomes more of a being that’s interacting with the physical world; more of a creative force. So, the “arm of golden flame”, in my mind, is this force of creativity.

I just think it’s really special when something can happen in the mind. Just the way the mind works is still one of the biggest mysteries in science, and how that can have a physical influence in the real world.

Ryan

When Ryan contributes to the lyrics, there are hidden meanings. I think the majority of the lyrics I write are a lot more visual-based, rather than meaning something. When I write the lyrics for the songs, I kind of imagine myself in that storyline; I am this character, moving through these different biomes, having these different experiences, and what do I actually see around me? What’s actually here and happening? Where am I now? – rather than having this bigger meaning. To me, it’s more so I’m in this world, and that might not mean something bigger, it’s just the crazy, visual explosion of this world we created which I am in that’s so colorful and interesting.

K

I’m curious to know what other people think when they hear “Arm of Golden Flame”.

Ryan

Reading the lyrics as I listened to the song, getting an idea about how the story is unfolding, I’d say it sounded like a veil, like something was cast on this person’s face, and that this person changed from the beginning of the story. I couldn’t necessarily pinpoint what the change was, just the fact that this is not the same individual we met at the beginning of the story.

Yeah, that’s what’s happening in that song. And I like that it’s still vague. It leaves you wondering more, rather than spelling it all out.

Ryan

And that was the introductory single. You don’t want to spill all the beans yet; you want there to be a little bit of mystery. There’s all this talk about space and the sea, what is the group’s idea of the correlation between space and sea. Both have yet to be fully explored, so how do you use that comparison in the song, or the whole record for that matter?

This album is mostly about the beginnings of things. Things began in space, but also in the sea – that’s where the explosion of life first happened on Earth. Depending on where you want to start talking about the history of “us”, you could start all the way back in space, or you could start in the sea.

The album eventually ends up in the sky, returning to space. Eventually, whether it’s through the sun exploding, or if we figure out space travel before then, everything on Earth will return to space.

Ryan

It’s interesting though, because I find the end of the album not necessarily returning to space, but returning to the sky and what I like to imagine would be the heavens. The beginning of the record is in this area of space, in the stars, amongst the planets, the galaxies, and taking the journey down to Earth through the sea, up on to land, and eventually back up in the sky, but only going so far into the sky. It’s like a different exploration of the sky. The sky as we know – the cloudscape of the sky and what you might think of when you think of heaven – versus back in outer space. It’s less of a void, and more like, a beautiful place. Everyone comes together at the end where we can celebrate – just a beautiful space with a lot of light. When you think of space, it’s very dark, and that’s how the beginning of the album starts, and that’s how the beginning of our new live show starts. Very dark, only a glimpse of light. And at the end, it’s this idea that there’s so much light. The clouds are bright white, the sun is illuminating, an evening sunset sort of thing.

K

I think that always, in some ways, there's been that science-y element, or science fiction with our first two records. This record really is our mythology record in that way. I think the way we’re viewing a lot of these things are less from a scientific vantage point, and more from a mythological vantage point. Before we really knew what space was like, we thought it was more like under the sea, though they weren’t terribly different. I think this is more of our myth record, as opposed to our sci-fi. It leans a little more toward fantasy.

Jacob

Like what did people think about those undiscovered places 100 years ago, or even 80 years ago. I guess it’s more than 100 years at this point. So how people would have viewed the unknown at that point, which I think is a little more romantic than how we view the unknown now.

K

Photo by Curtis Ashley

The album eventually ends up in the sky, returning to space. Eventually, whether it’s through the sun exploding, or if we figure out space travel before then, everything on Earth will return to space.

Ryan Hover

You touched on it briefly, but I’ll explicitly ask, what are some new wrinkles you all threw into the mix for Emerald Sea?

On my part, I think we made a point not to use any guitars on this album, but we wanted it to be a very big sounding record that really hits hard, so it was a challenge to make that out of just orchestral sounds. I think for me, that was my biggest intentional contribution; to make a rock album that didn’t use guitars. What about your singing style, I know that was kind of a new thing…

Ryan

I kind of took inspiration for this record, in terms of how I wanted the vocals to sound, from a few different sources. One of them being Hayley Mills, who is most notable for starring in the original ‘Parent Trap’. She’s older now, she was like a Disney child-star in the 1960’s, back when Disney was live-action oriented. She spoke with what is referred to as a “transatlantic accent”, which is basically a mix between an American accent and a British accent. Not that I intentionally snag with an accent, but I really took inspiration from her voice and how she sang and how she sounded, and tried to work that into how I do it.

She has a lot of imperfections in her voice, and I think that on the song that’s going to come out just a day or two before the album is released – the song is called “The Fawn” – and I think that song really shows me reaching for that style of having some notes that are imperfect, but that’s the beauty of it, because it sounds so real and raw, and it feels very sweet, almost, and relatable. It seems very innocent and sweet, very playful. I think that, if this doesn’t make sense to people reading this interview, maybe they haven’t heard all the songs yet.

I also took inspiration from Libera, a boys’ choir in England. Trying to study and learn about how they project their voices, and just the way they sing in general. So, taking a lot of inspiration from younger singers, and pooling where I was when I was singing when I was a child, and kind of turning that into my vocals now.

I always had this idea of wanting to be classically trained, or having lessons, learning to do things a specific way, but then I realized in the years after doing this, there's only one way that I can do what I’m doing, and that is the way that I’ve created for myself. It’s not something that I can teach to other people, and I think I’ve measured my abilities off “Could it be taught? Could it be done by someone else?” and I realized, very recently, that I can’t quantify it like that. I think that what I’ve been doing is a method I taught myself; I don’t think I could teach it to anyone else. I’m not even saying that it’s a great method, but it is the way that I do it, and I think that’s what makes it special for me; makes it feel very unique. What about you?

K

I think for this record, something I was really wanting to focus on was the costume design. In the past – I kind of joined this band as a lighting designer. I have a background in music, and not in lighting design, but when I first hooked up with everybody, I was really wanting to explore lighting design, so that’s what I really dove in head first with. Then I started making costumes, but I feel like they were an extension of the lighting design, like six or seven years ago when we started.

I started making the costumes just to reflect the light back, and catch the light in certain ways. On this record, I wanted to try to be more intentional in the costume design, and just do a better job of it. In the past it was hastily done, to be like “How can we reflect this light?”, just to be like “Here, wear this.” This time it’s been a lot more deliberate. I think for our new live show, there’s almost a different costume K will be wearing for every single song. Maybe not every song, but almost every song.

Jacob

And some of those costumes that people will see in the live shows are things that people will recognize from the music videos as well. So if anyone’s watched the videos, they’ll recognize some of that on stage as well. It’s just a shame to only use them once. Only use them for the video or only use them for the live show, he did such a nice job on many of these, they have to be shown!

K

We think of this band as an audio-visual project. A lot of the visuals – you know, we started working with visual ideas as soon as we started with the musical ideas, and they kind of informed each other. We met at this mid-century fantasy, “what if Disney made a live action fantasy film in the 50’s or 60’s?”, scored with a symphonic soundtrack.

Ryan

Yeah, that’s a good way to sum it up.

K

Karen Hover of Sound Of Ceres, photographed by Jacob Graham
Karen Hover of Sound Of Ceres, photographed by Jacob Graham
Karen Hover of Sound Of Ceres, photographed by Jacob Graham

Something else I noticed is Marina Abramović doing the narration on Arm of Golden Flame, an interesting addition. I wasn’t familiar with her and her work before hearing her on the single, but I did a little digging and saw that she is a performance artist. I also saw the post with Marina and Karen on Instagram, where you claim she came to your residency in Brooklyn, how she was maintaining eye contact with you, and how it felt really powerful. I’d love to hear about how her visit transformed into her being featured on Emerald Sea.

It happened in such a strange way; I remember we were doing a three-week long residency, and the first week came. Todd Eckert, at the time he was just a fan, we didn’t really know him but he introduced himself, but he introduced himself and said next week he was going to come back and he was going to introduce his friend Marina with him. We found out which Marina, and we took a deeper dive ourselves, and we’re like, “Is he really going to bring her to our show? Is she really going to come to Alphaville?” It’s a very DIY venue.

But he indeed brought her back, it was incredible. Marina showed up and during the performance, she stood right at the front and looked into my eyes the whole time. But I didn’t find it intimidating. Beforehand, I thought that I might, but for some reason, she was actually a calming presence,and it just felt like she fully understood what was happening on stage, and that she could see the full picture. I found it quite soothing, as crazy as that sounds. After the show, she told me that I should try not to blink on stage; I should go as long as possible without blinking, to have more of a connection with my audience. If you look up the connections she tries to have with her performance art, she’s about being very present in her work; being present in the space and being there now and nowhere else in her mind and in her body. I think when she said that to me that night, that was just a little piece of who she is in her entirety. Since then, I’ve been trying to incorporate more of her methods into what I do on stage.

We met that night, and I remember her talking about how we should do a photo together someday, just for fun. We ended up staying in touch; the years went by, we infrequently would get together and have a meal or a drink, all of us together. That was lovely, and then one day, we were finishing up a residency that we were doing in Vermont; we were planning to meet her at her home later that afternoon as we were driving back from Vermont to New York. We were going to stop by her home and eat lunch together, and we all thought up in the car, “It’s time to see if she wants to work on this album with us.” We started making a new album, and there was this idea that we’d love for her to be involved, for her to narrate this record, but we hadn’t really pitched the idea to her yet. I remember we went to that lunch and brought up the idea to her, and she seemed very intrigued by it. Then it was just like a snowball effect after that.

K

She kind of immediately agreed to do it, actually. She was like, “There’s this performance space where you can show me the live show before you show anyone else.”

Jacob

When it came time to record the album, we sent her way too much narration, like three pages of stuff to read that we figured we’d pick and choose from after the fact. She wrote back and said it was way too much, so we narrowed it down to what we thought were the most impactful lines.

Ryan

I think that makes sense for her because maybe Ryan’s style of writing is “make more of what you need”, that way when it comes down to editing, you can place things together, use the best ideas, what works and what doesn’t. I think her approach is more like, “What do I need to do? I don’t want to do something and then not have it be a part of this piece. Whatever I’m doing, it is the piece.” Eventually, we got her all the words, and told her it was going to be a part of the record and a part of the story.

K

I think it was good that it worked out that way, because if she did read all of it, it might have been a little more casual, whereas what she sent back to us felt so heavy; there was a lot of weight to it, it was very dramatic and worked really well.

Jacob

I don’t think she’s done much voice acting in the past, if at all, so we weren’t sure what to expect. If you just ask anyone to read some lines and record them, not everyone has the talent to make it convincing. But when she sent it back, like Jacob said, it was very compelling and heavy. It was just amazing. I think, just as a performance artist herself, she was a natural at using her voice as well. We were pleasantly surprised by these amazing recordings. I think we used all of the recordings she sent back.

We weave it in, like in Arm of Golden Flame; there’s several songs in the album that we weave her narration into, just to give a little more story to the songs.

Ryan

Photo by Curtis Ashley

If you just ask anyone to read some lines and record them, not everyone has the talent to make it convincing. But when she sent it back, like Jacob said, it was very compelling and heavy. It was just amazing. I think, just as a performance artist herself, she was a natural at using her voice as well.

Ryan Hover

I got that. Before, you guys mentioned the orchestral sounds that you use in your music, and how Sound Of Ceres is an audio-visual project; I get the vibes that this new album is going to be very theatrical. You always take us on a story, but with this one, you have the narration, and like you said, her voice is very impactful. When I first heard it, I was like “Whoa.” Then look at the album cover, which gives those vintage Disney movie vibes.

Yeah, the cover was actually hand-painted by our friend’s friend that we were put in touch with a year or two ago. That was really special too; having a hand-painted cover, so you can see brush strokes. We have yet to see the actual hard-copy of the painting, we’ve only seen the digital version.

K

That’s amazing. I remember, before, we were talking about new things y’all would like to incorporate into the live show. Have you given any thought to how you’re going to create more of a presence with your audience; how you’re going to maintain that at your live shows coming up?

Have you seen one of our shows before?

K

I haven’t, but I suppose I will ask this now: will y’all be coming down to the city to do any shows?

Oh yeah, that’ll be our first show. We’re thinking the release show will be in July, but we’re still uncertain; it hasn’t been announced yet. We’ll definitely be doing a city show first, and it will be some time this summer.

But yeah, in our past show, there were elements of performance art. While Derrick and Ryan were playing instruments, Jacob and I would be weaving lights and manipulating light on stage. It would be like another interactive band member almost, the light itself, so that was interesting. And now, still doing interesting things with lights, but even more performance based. Like Jacob was saying, I have a different costume for most songs in this set. Just this idea of him and I, and even now Derrick and Ryan, being actual characters and performers on stage, other than a band performing. Even if we don’t have character names per se, it’s this idea of going up on stage and exuding something; giving something that’s more than just your everyday self. You are this character you’re embodying, even if they don’t have this full, well thought out story, you’re just exuding something more.

K

In the past, it was more of K being the character, and the rest of us kind of lurking in the darkness; Jacob made a few appearances as a character, but this time around, we’re thinking of it as if we’re all part of the production and the fiction going on on-stage.

Ryan

Lots of choreography, timed movements, costume changes, and interacting with visual elements to further tell the story of the record. It is meant to be like a play, I would say. As the bio to our album was written in three acts, I don’t know if you saw that; there’s three acts to our biography, explaining the story of the album, the different biomes. We did that in preparation for the live show which we also see as a play that will be in three acts.

When you go to see it, it will feel like a concert. There’s not going to be an intermission or anything; probably, still, a lot of standing, non-seated venues, but it’s definitely going to look very borderline play – concert meets theater.

K

Jacob, do you want to talk about how the show’s been changing?

Ryan

I don’t know. It’s hard to talk about because we’ve been working on this show now for like three to four years. I feel like I’m in this weird place of, “What even is it?” We’re about to find out real soon.

Jacob

I think the biggest difference is our previous show is very much in darkness, and we would have a lot of lasers and spotlights going to light things up. Whereas this one, it’s meant to be bright the whole time; you’re meant to see all the costumes and the backdrops. When you put everything in darkness, it’s easy to make it look good when you just flash things on people. But when everything’s lit up, you really have to, to repeat a term, “bring it”, in terms of costumes.

We have props on stage, we have a little set design. We built physical pieces for the stage. While our show in the past was reliant on the visual elements being very light-oriented, and projections, this time there is still that element, but there’s also physical props and stage pieces, and velvet curtains that we’ve hand-woven.

Ryan

Photo by Curtis Ashley

While Derrick and Ryan were playing instruments, Jacob and I would be weaving lights and manipulating light on stage. It would be like another interactive band member almost, the light itself, so that was interesting. And now, still doing interesting things with lights, but even more performance based.

Karen Hover

On the topic of touring, now that you have this whole production, sort of theatrical thing going on, how does that affect bringing other bands on tour with you?

This is like our worst nightmare right now. We’ve thought about it; it’s tricky. We’re hoping whatever opener we find for our headlining tour, that it’s a single performer. Maybe it’s someone playing the theremin, interestingly. A small set up that can fit into what we have on the stage. Everything we have still breaks down very small. We drove here today in our Toyota Rav4, and everything fit in the back of it. While it does seem like a huge set-up, it does break down quite small. But I think the idea is to play with a smaller act. When we go on tour as support for someone else, maybe we’ll have a more minimal version of what we’re doing. By that point, we’ll probably be pretty good at setting it up and tearing it down fast enough that we can work around whatever the parameters are.

I think that’s a constant struggle for any band, even a band that doesn’t have any visual element. While their lack of visual elements means more stage, usually they have more instruments than we do. We don’t have a full drum set; the only instruments we have on stage are a harp and bells. We’re using that floor space for visual pieces, while another band would have that space on the floor be for an amp. I think the footprint size is about the same as a traditional live show set-up, just with different items. I don’t know if that was interesting or very boring.

K

Not at all, I’m very excited. This sounds a lot more out of the box,and I enjoy things like that.

It’s what makes it fun for us. If we’re going to tour this every night and do this all the time, it has to be fulfilling to us. I know that Jacob and I really find that kind of play and entertainment in life really fun. We love putting on costumes and being a different person for an hour or two, whether that’s drag or just in our apartment for fun.

The idea of people paying to come see it, and people being very interested in it is great for us.

K

This has been wonderful, speaking with you three. Is there anything you would like to add?

Just because Derrick’s not here, I would like to add, he actually learned how to play the harp for this album. He was playing guitars before, and this time we wanted to be more orchestral, so he learned how to play the cross-string harp. A lot of the harp you hear on the recordings is Derrick playing , and then he’ll be playing it live as well.

Ryan

He’s the one band member that’s actually classically trained. All of us are just bullshitting I guess.

K

If you didn’t tell me, I’d have no idea.

Thank you!

K and Ryan


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