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Arms and Sleepers - Interview

  by Magdalena Majchrzak

published: 29 / 4 / 2010

Arms and Sleepers - Interview


Arms and Sleepers are a Massachusetts-based band whose music is an amalgamation of psot rock, trip hop and electro. New Pennyblackmusic writer Magadalena Majchrzak speaks to Mirza Ramic from the group about the influence of film soundtracks on their music

Arms and Sleepers are Max Lewis and Mirza Ramic. The band was formed in Cambridge, Massachusetts. They play epic, sprawling music which runs the gamut of post rock, trip hop and electro. They have released sveeral albums and EPs and have extensively toured in North America, Europe and the UK. Their latest releases include 'Matador', an album which has also been released in a remixed version, and 'From The Inland Sea', a twelve inch vinyl only release with the American Dollar, The following is an interview with Mirza Ramic, who graciously took time between shows to answer a few questions for me. PB: Who and how did you come up with the name of the band? Why Arms and Sleepers? MR: Max and I used to be in another band before Arms and Sleepers, and we were going to release a double album, with one side called "Arms" and the other called "Sleepers". We spent a year not releasing any material, and when the band broke up, we took those two words and put them together for our new band. As for the meaning, the name is interpreted differently by both Max and I, but for me the meaning has to do with how the world that we live in often operates. Some people have "arms" (as in weapons) that they use to advance their convictions onto others, which results in murder, starvation, etc. The "sleepers" are many of us that are either oblivious to this or choose to ignore it since we live in a world with fewer problems and plenty of prosperity. The band name is not a political statement in any way, but simply an observation of what I personally experienced growing up in Bosnia and immigrating to western Europe and the United States. PB: How and when did the band form? Can you tell us something about your early days? MR: We formed in the summer of 2006, and this was a result of our previous musical projects not really going anywhere. We needed to separate from other people and just make music by ourselves. This has obviously worked out much better, as we have been quite more productive in terms of releasing albums and touring. In the early days I think we limited ourselves to more electronic-oriented music, since we wanted to remain strictly a two piece. We have since then, however, expanded our sound and have started working with more people, often as guest musicians in the studio and for live shows. PB: Who first spotted you and was the first to hear your music? MR: I'm not really sure. It's just been a natural progress which started with us making music in our bedrooms and then spreading that music on the internet and at live shows throughout the world. PB: What was your inspiration for making music? MR: A lot of independent films. We're really influenced by movies and visual arts, and I think creating the type of music that we create can be very much linked to films and film scores that we love, such as 'Talk to Her','Volver','Lovers of the Arctic Circle','Elegy','Control','Cache' etc. We wanted to kind of make a soundtrack to imaginary films, those that are in our heads, and put them on disc. I think this is how we view our music, as soundtracks to movies that don't exist. PB: Are there any artists who had an influence on your music? MR: Film directors, such as Pedro Almodovar,the Coen Brothers,Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck and Julio Medem. Bands/composers such as Bohren and Der Club of Gore,Why?,Max Richter and Erik Satie. Almost every artist that has had their work exhibited at the Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art. PB: How would you define the sound of Arms and Sleepers? MR: That's a tough question. We've never been comfortable with defining our sound. Since we like various genres of music, and often create compositions that are very different from one another, it's difficult to come up with a specific definition. I would just say that we are two people who find many things in common and are able to sit down and create music together. What comes out of that is always different and is sometimes happy, sometimes sad; sometimes good, sometimes bad. PB: Have you heard that you have sometimes been compared to Sigur Ros? Do you consider this comparison right? MR: No, I don't think so. We usually get compared to artists such as Anita Baker and Phil Collins, which I think is the right comparison. PB: What was the most unusual or funniest gig that you've ever played? MR: We once played a private party in Boston that was put together by a few people for their friend as a birthday celebration. The people organizing the event liked our band, but the person celebrating his birthday did not and I don't think most other people at the party did either. So, we played our music and nobody paid attention. It was sort of an upscale party, so it felt very strange to be there. The person whose birthday it was kept yelling at us to be careful with the furniture, paintings, etc. The whole night was very strange and we were happy when it was all finally over. PB: If you were to choose a band to play a tour with, who would it be and why? MR: It would be cool to tour with Boards of Canada, because they have never toured before! PB : How would you describe your audience? MR: Diverse, enthusiastic, supportive, respectful and kind. PB: Does anything excit you in the world of music right now? MR: Sure, new music by some friends of ours, such as Uzi and Ari, Nolens Volens, Caspian and Travels. We are Always looking for new movies with great film scores. Most recently we really enjoyed 'Broken Embraces'. We have also recently discovered some new artists, in particular Toro Y Moi. PB : Thank you.

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Arms and Sleepers - Interview

Arms and Sleepers - Interview

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