|| Talk To The Hand, Chokri
|| Kristoff Tilkin
"Talk To The Hand, Chokri" is a July, 2013 interview in Dutch by Kristoff Tilkin. It originally appeared in Humo.
A train of images rages through 'Tomorrow's Harvest, the first record by Boards Of Canada in eight years. Once again it's a delightful grainy small film where bright white sunlight shines over blocks of houses in decay. The wind rattles doors and windows, with whirling red dust all around. But the shadows tend to enlarge with every song and ominous clouds loom at the horizon. Good poetry doesn't require a manual but for the sake of learning and entertainment we listen to the verses of Mike Sandison and Marcus Eoin.
Well, maybe not really: eight years ago we were invited to talk about their previous record 'The Campfire Headphase' with a good cappuccino, this time we had to take pleasure with an interview through email. Strange, because in 2005 they claimed to be fed up with being portrayed as alienated weirdos. "The main reason why we are talking with you right here is to set the record straight. Boards Of Canada are two very regular guys who happen to make enthralling music, not paranoid hermits or heroes of abnegation who cut off all ties with civilization". Maybe they changed their minds, or maybe being mysterious is just much more fun?
"Marcus Eoin: "Don't break your head over it too much, we've been doing quite some face to face interviews over the years, but you can't believe how many poor and superficial questions we had to answers that way. By doing this over email it appears to be easier to get the true interesting stuff""
HUMO: "There's a gap of eight long years between the 'The Campfire Headphase
' and 'Tomorrow's Harvest
', long enough to build houses and raise families. Is it true you've been mainly dealing with pacifiers and trowels?"
"Mike Sandison: "We did some travelling for a while and have been working on some personal projects, after that we made our EP 'Trans Canada Highway
'. Right after that - it was already the end of 2006 - we started writing the songs for 'Tomorrow's Harvest
', but we didn't get much further than just make sketches: we suddenly realized our studio was way too small, and that we should optimize it. Once you start with rebuilding you never know where it's gonna end, so it took us a lot of time. At the same time we indeed started raising kids, it took a long while before we actually started to write songs. I'm shocked every time someone tells us our previous record is eight years old, it feels like a lot less than that, cause we've been very busy with things that's not of any business of the outside world.""
HUMO: "'Tomorrow's Harvest
' sounds pretty dark, it's easy to picture scenes from the outstanding zombie series 'The Walking Dead', almost like post-apocalyptic poetry"
"Sandison: "I'm not going to deny that we found some of the tone of the record in obscure cinema of the late seventies and early eighties, but other than that i'll have to disappoint you: the theme we had in our heads was everything but apocalyptic. More in the line of 'how are we going to adjust ourselves in a world that soon will change very drastically?'. It just seems so inevitable. Without explaining too much - I rather let the listener figure it out - there's a chronology in the song titles and in the atmosphere of the songs, they're chapters in a longer story"."
In The Guardian, Sandison admits that fatherhood has made him conscious of the fragility of existence, and that it has changed his view on the world very radically. "We've become a lot more nihilistic over the years. In a way we're really celebrating an idea of collapse rather than resisting it. It's probably quite a bleak album, depending on your perspective."
HUMO: "Over the years I heard BOC
influences in Tycho, Bibio, Ariel Pink, Lorn, Washed Out but also young fellow countrymen such as Ssaliva and Internal Sun. Who manages to influence you nowadays?"
"Sandison: "We don't care about musical trends, we like to listen to older music and love to dig into old weird stuff that's been used in commercials or movies. Not that we close ourselves off entirely, when something new comes along we're all over it. Like some time ago with coL (alias for Colin Lipe, worked together with Ariel Pink), American music with a unique sound.""
HUMO: "Your songs always sounded a bit vintage, as if they've been lying around an old factory for a long time. Nowadays you can create that effect easily with musical technology. You always seem to make beautiful nostalgic moving Super 8-movies but the Instagram generation is catching up"
"Eoin: "It's not something you do by simply pressing a button... Instagram is very nowadays, it's a trend and only has a connection with the past if you actually know that past: for young kids it's something modern. All those image and sound manipulations are extremely artificial, and they're being used very randomly. You can't just apply them onto anything and expect emotional depth.""
HUMO: "Somebody played me the opening track 'Gemini
', I immediately knew it was you guys, it still sounds so familiar. Is your approach still the same?"
"Sandison: "More or less yes. But we've been doing it like in the early days more often, when we used to write music while playing around on old synths and drumcomputers. We've been picking up new technology over the years of course, but we never used it maniacally. Vintage material is our thing, and it's the only way to sound different than the majority of modern music. On Tomorrow's Harvest
there's one song that dates back to our very early days, but we're not telling which one, try to guess"."
HUMO: "'Music was our life' said Mike eight years ago about the way he listened to music as a young kid. Unfortunately for a lot of people it's like a leaky faucet, everybody at home and at work constantly hears music but nobody takes the time to actually listen. The CEO of the site Spotify even sells his streaming service as something that's as easy as streaming water. And that's without being ironic."
"Eoin: "Apparently it only gotten worse during these last eight years. You know what I regret? All these young kids have similar massive mp3 collections on their computers, which means they all have the same dull musical taste, it all sounds the same. There are no more tribal clashes, while that used to be very enjoyable for everyone who listened to like rock music: the mods vs the rockers etc"
"But the worst thing has to be that the music completely devalued, almost certainly for young people. I've heard young people claim that all music should be free, and artists should make it only cause they love making it. Money's just an extra. Not that I don't understand it, cause theoretically it doesn't even sound bad, but just think about it, if The Beatles had to do an extra job in a grocery job you think they had the time or energy to make revolutionary records like Revolver?""
HUMO: "I recently talked to the guys from Daft Punk
, same generation as you, getting close to becoming 40, who have been listening to music all these lives; and they can feel a bit paralyzed by the weight of the history of music resting on their shoulders"
"Sandison: "Not us. Music is an almost endless series of possible combinations of notes, melodies, chords, textures, rhythms and so on. In the short period of time people are composing music we only tried a few, I'm very curious to find out where we'll find ourselves in the future""