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Chuzzlewit - Interview Part 2

  by Chris Jones

published: 17 / 1 / 2002

Chuzzlewit - Interview Part 2


PB : Your music has a lo-fi quality that gives it a feeling of immediacy. By that I mean, it sounds a bit raw and I can almost picture you sitting there playing the songs when I listen to them. Is t

PB : Your music has a lo-fi quality that gives it a feeling of immediacy. By that I mean, it sounds a bit raw and I can almost picture you sitting there playing the songs when I listen to them. Is that a quality you are going for or is it a result of the equipment you use? GP : I think it's a combination of factors. It's definitely a quality I'm going for and it is also certainly a result of the equipment I use, or how I choose to use it at the very least. Almost all of the stuff I've done on my own has been done in apartments, and I'm pretty paranoid about people hearing what's going on, so the suppressed and quiet nature of it (especially the vocals) comes largely from those circumstances. It has turned out to lend the music a certain character that has developed a life of it's own--I can consciously sit down to do something "different" and somehow or other it comes out sounding a certain way. I deliberately leave the raw quality in, I've never bothered to really learn the proper way to do many things with recording equipment, I prefer to just set it all up and see what happens. I also don't spend any time trying to get the perfect recording of any particular part--I'll play it until it sounds good enough but if there are mistakes or missed notes I'll only redo it if it's really bad and noticeable. Otherwise I prefer to push ahead to the next part. I'm not a good enough guitar player to keep doing it over and over again until it's perfect, I'd be there all day. PB : Have you considered doing more of a studio recorded album? GP : I'm open to anything, studio recordings, live performances, etc. There's no grand concept behind the stuff I do. I have a way of working on my own that I prefer but that's just how I've ended up going about things. If I was given other opportunities I'd by all means attempt a different approach. All that being said it's not something I see myself actively pursuing any time soon. PB : I really like the way the recordings sound because it's almost like i'm being allowed to read a diary. I guess it's the tone of the music really. Are the songs tied to events in your life? GP : Well the short answer would be yes, absolutely, but the ways in which the songs are tied to my life aren't necessarily that straight-forward. There's very rarely any point by point re-telling of an event or occasion, I go more for an impression that conveys the feeling of a time or place rather than just describe the time or place. I could be describing something in a literal manner in a song but to me it's referring to something else all together. The "I" and "You" in the songs aren't always referring to me or even anyone real, it just depends. Sometimes the "you" is me, and vice versa. But it all comes out of my experience and is the process of me reflecting on things that have happened. Or haven't happened. Or something. PB : After a few releases on indie labels, you put out 'Secret Affinities' as a CD-r. Did you approach any labels with it prior to doing that? GP : I hadn't approached any labels with things since 'A Map of Maybes' came out. By the time I finished up the stuff on 'Secret Affinities' I was pretty removed from the activity and people I had been involved with previously, so I decided to do the CD-R as a way of getting back into it in a way that was similar to how I got into it in the first place. I didn't really have any intentions of doing much of anything with it but to my pleasant surprise the response proved to be greater than I could keep up with, so I asked around about labels and settled with Alice in Wonder. PB : The packaging for the CD-R is really nice. Did you put that together? Do you do anything like graphic arts as a job? GP : I put the packaging together at Kinkos. I'm not a graphic designer but I was an art major in college and doing projects like that is an outlet for that kind of stuff. I really enjoy it and it's one of the main reasons why I like putting releases together. PB : The songs on 'Secret Affinities' sound fuller to me than most of the songs on 'A Map of Maybes'. I think I asked you about that when I got the CD-R and you said that many of the songs on the two CDs were recorded around the same time. Is that right? GP : Some of them were, actually less than half probably are things that I did right after the stuff on 'A Map of Maybes' and then set aside. When I started to record some of the new things I went back to those tapes, more than anything so I could see if there was any blank room on them I could use! I discovered some of those songs held up pretty well and seemed to fit with the newer stuff I was doing, so it all just kind of came together in the right way at the right time. I think the newer songs are fuller, I've been pushing the four track a little more and started using a Powerbook as well. There isn't a single song on it that came exclusively from the computer, they all are either just four track or some kind of combination. These days I use both and send parts back and forth between the two depending on what I want to do. I kind of like the way the sound degrades as it's dubbed more and more, it blurs the edges and gives it a warmth that seems natural to it. PB : The song 'North Atlantic' has Beth Arzy from the Trembling Blue Stars singing on it. How did that collaboration come about? Are you going to record more songs with her in the future? GP : We got to know each other over email when I asked for an Aberdeen track for a cassette compilation I was putting together. At the time she wasn't playing with anyone and we discovered that our voices fit together pretty well, and did a few songs together through the mail on four track. Of course now she's a glamorous international pop star again. We haven't actually even met. I moved out of Chicago a week before the Trembling Blue Stars show last month. We might do some things in the future again. We'll see. There are a couple of other tracks around that she's on that might eventually see the light of day in some form. PB : What else can we expect to see from Chuzzlewit in the future? GP : As for current activities, I just moved to St. Louis and I'm settling into a new job, which has put some Chuzzlewit stuff on the back burner for the moment. I've been finishing up some songs when I've had a chance that are making their way to various compilations. A rough version of a new song called 'Balancing' is downloadable from the losingtoday.com site, and a finished version might be on the CD with the next issue of the magazine. There's another new song called 'Side by Side' that features my fiance Rachel singing on it that will be on an Alice in Wonder compilation. The tape label Best Kept Secret has a track called 'Long Shadows' on one of their recent compilations and might be putting out a tape of older unreleased stuff if I ever actually put it together. There's a new label in Hong Kong called Teleran Records that I'm planning to do something for, and I've talked with Alice in Wonder about a new album for next year. PB : Thank you

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