By Josh, 2015年 11月 30日
《 中文采访在豆瓣音乐 》
Indomitable concert promoters Split Works have busied themselves by closing out the year with a trio of exemplary Pitchfork-approved American festival circuit staples. Earlier in the month we had Neon Indian, and Split will continue the forward motion by hosting Los Angeles alt-pop chanteuse Julia Holter this Friday, December 4 at Modernsky Lab. (The trio is completed when Split brings Perfume Genius to Mao on Saturday, December 12.)
Holter, who’s touring behind her latest long-player Have You In My Wilderness, has built a steady stream of critical acclaim, melding a classically pop aesthetic with more idiosyncratic elements like field-recorded outside sound and a tendency to deconstruct her own voice through layer upon layer of loop decay. Lyrically she relays an eclectic, hyper-literary, B.A.-in-humanities vibe, personalizing stray elements of Greek tragedy, Modernist novella, and contemporary poetry into a highly impressionistic melange of word and sound.
Ahead of her Beijing debut I asked Holter a few questions about her compositional method and to what extent these literary influences consciously shape her process as a singer and songwriter:
photo by Tonje Thilesen
pangbianr: The names of your first two albums reflect an interest in Greek philosophy and drama: Tragedy is an oblique reference to Euripides, and Ekstasis, besides calling out multiple meanings of the English word “ecstasy,” references a philosophical concept of uncanny otherness espoused by Plotinus. What is the source of your fascination with Greek culture?
Julia Holter: I actually don’t have any knowledge of ancient Greek culture, but I liked one of the Greek tragedies I read — Hippolytus — and that inspired Tragedy. I called my record Ekstasis for a few reasons — I first heard the word used in an essay by Anne Carson that resonated with me and inspired my song “This is Ekstasis”. But sometimes I feel silly trying to explain these things, because I’m not an expert, and unfortunately some people interpret it that way and see a connection between Tragedy and Ekstasis because of the ancient Greek thing, but there really is no direct connection there.
pangbianr: In your more recent work — especially on your latest album, Have You In My Wilderness — you’ve seemed to shift from abstract, philosophical themes towards experiential reflections on your day-to-day life. How have you changed or evolved as a lyricist over the last few years? Where do you get or seek inspiration for new songs now?
Julia Holter: I think it’s possible that it’s not so much how my music has changed over time, but rather that I make different types of music/musical projects. For instance, three of the songs on HYIMW are from 2010/2011. There are some very old ones that date to around the time I was writing Tragedy and Ekstasis as well. So, it’s just that this new record has songs that are a bit more inspired by familiar things, like ’60s song ballads for instance. There are more identifiable musical forms on HYIMW, whereas in my other records I was more interested in creating an overall world than working within a musical tradition.
pangbianr: What comes first for you: lyrics or melody? Can you talk a bit about your compositional process?
Julia Holter: It changes depending on the song. For most of the songs on HYIMW, the lyrics came with the melody. I sit at the piano and my hands play chords and my voice makes up sounds. For other (sometimes more long-form) songs of mine, I write a poem first, and then set it to music. But that is a really particular way of writing that is more split-up and less intuitive. Sometimes the limitations that process brings is easier than being intuitive though! So I change it up a lot.
pangbianr: You seem at home picking influences from more melodic or even “pop” idioms, but you also have a distinct, identifiable aesthetic that eschews this term. What were some of your earliest musical influences? What kinds of shows would you play when you were first starting out?
Julia Holter: My earliest musical influences are unclear, because my earliest music wasn’t necessarily my most “me” music if that makes sense. I was making music in a classical tradition, maybe inspired by Ligeti, John Adams, I don’t know. But it would be more accurate to say that popular vocal music like that of Joni Mitchell, the Beatles, Billie Holiday, Tori Amos, Kate Bush, The Smiths inspired me at an early age.
My first shows were solo shows with just me at the keyboard — either synth or digital piano. At first I used the loop pedal a lot, and would create textures. Then I started enjoying paring it down to just digital piano and voice. I played these kinds of shows from about 2006-2012, so for quite a long time until I was able to tour with a band.
pangbianr: Your music is quite lush, densely orchestrated. How do you go about choosing musicians with whom to record, arrange new material, and perform live?
Julia Holter: The musicians I work with usually are people I have played with or know from seeing them play in LA with other friends, or they are people who have played with friends of mine. I’ve played with Corey Fogel (percussion) since 2012, and I knew him from a circle of people around Cal Arts. Through him, I met Devin Hoff (bass), and through Devin, I met Dina Maccabee (viola, vocals)
pangbianr: Stepping away from your own work — what other artists or bands have you heard recently and liked? Anything coming out of Los Angeles now that we should check out here in China?
Julia Holter: I have been listening to things that are pretty popular, so I don’t know if I have any good advice: Joanna Newsom, Kendrick Lamar, Patti Smith are what I’ve been listening to on the tour. Still feel like I’m getting to know their music though.
pangbianr: This is your first time coming here, right? Have you heard anything about the underground music scene in China? Any preconceived notions, expectations, hopes, or wishes for this trip?
Julia Holter: I am so excited to come to China, I haven’t heard much about it. I’ve been wanting to come all my life!
Catch Julia Holter live on Friday, December 4 at Modernsky Lab