Swanson, whose project is called Yohuna,
performs “The Moon Hangs In the Sky Like Nothing Hangs In the Sky” and “Creep
Date” at The Womb in Allston,
Massachusetts, on March 9th. Filmed by Ethan Long.
I stayed home
sick from work one day in the winter of 2010-2011 and wrote what would become
the first Chasms song, "Darker Outside." It was also the first song I
programmed on the Alesis HR-16 drum machine, which still makes up the majority
of our percussive palette. Shannon and I are college friends. We had wanted to
do something creative together, but at that point we weren't sure if it was
going to be music, a screenplay or something else. I showed the demo to her and
asked her to play bass. She kept showing up regularly at my practice space and
so I had to, too. Then it became a real thing.
Can you tell us what the band has been
working on and what you've got forthcoming in the near future (new releases,
writing our next LP for a while now. The process is quite slow but I'm very
meticulous. I'm going to start recording it soon. I have personal deadlines for
it, but I want to give it the proper time it needs, so I'm not going to say
when it's going to be done. We're touring the East Coast later this year, and
hopefully other regions we've never been to.
Do you consider your music to be part of
the current shoegaze/dream pop scene, or any scene? Defining one's sound by
genre can be tiresome, but do you feel that the band identifies closely with
any genre? How do you feel about genres in music, in a general sense?
We seem to straddle
genres and tend to play with a broad range of bands -- metal, shoegaze,
industrial, post-punk, ambient -- and somehow it still makes sense. The
influences for this project are all over the place. I don't identify the
project with any one genre, but rather a theme, a sense of atmosphere and
feeling that transcends genre.
What is the most important piece of gear
for your sound? Any particular guitars/pedals/amps that you prefer?
machine is integral to our sound. If we lost it all, we'd be fucked. It's all
very backed up. Right now we're using an Akai MPC1000 loaded with our own
samples that I created of the HR16 through effect processing.
guitar-related pieces are my Jazzmaster, Strymon El Capistan Tape Echo, and
Electroharmonix Super Ego.
What is your process for recording your
music? What gear and/or software do you use? What would you recommend for
DIY. Everything is captured and mixed in Logic with a Motu 828 MKIII interface
on a Macbook Pro. After tracking the drum machine, I record guitar and bass in
our practice space, usually early in the morning so no one else is around. I
mic amps with an SM57 and a condenser, and record direct if it's an option, too,
to get a good blend of tones. For guitar, I usually blend multiple takes
captured slightly differently -- maybe with different mic placements or played
with a different guitar -- for a more dynamic sound. Most of what I record goes
through an Eventide H3000 D/SE in post to give it a warm, extra-dreamy touch. I
love my ADAM 5X monitors. Invest in your monitors.
How do you feel about the state of the
music industry today? There is no doubt a massive change underway; how do you
see it and do you feel it’s positive at all? There are a lot
of evils and bullshit that exist in any business model, but you can find your
place and choose how you operate in it.
When it comes to label releases versus
DIY/bandcamp and the like, what is your stance, if any?
It's great that
Bandcamp has leveled the playing field, and it's interesting to see artists and
labels of very different levels using the same platform. Of course, a
consequence is oversaturation and quality control, but the benefits of allowing
all artists a means of exposure definitely outweigh that.
What artists (musicians or otherwise) have
most influenced your work?
The films of Ingmar
Bergman. Robin Guthrie of Cocteau Twins from a production and nerdy guitar
player standpoint, of course. Slowdive, Tim Hecker, Grouper, Skullflower,
Burzum. I love a lot of techno, and think about it a lot, especially in terms
of structure, when I'm writing.
Can you tell us a little about what you are
currently into (books, films, art, bands, etc.)?
obsessed with Black Rain's "Dark Pool" since I first heard it. It
covers so many bases so perfectly. I've also been listening to the Function
& Vatican Shadow collaboration, Puce Mary, and Basic Channel. I love George
Saunders' short stories. They paint such a comically accurate present and
Can you tell us a little about the band’s
song writing process?
starts as a solo process where I program a drum pattern and write bass, guitar
and maybe vocals over it. My goal is usually to create a recording as a jumping
off point. I usually bring these usually half-baked demos to practice and
Shannon and I will flesh them out together in a live context, which nearly
always informs the final version of the song.
We also have
songs that have come about organically by playing together. There's not a lot
of room for improvisation playing with a drum machine, so in these
collaborations I feel like you can hear that organic element in melody and
texture. We try to emphasize these nuances in our live performance as much as
What is your philosophy (on life), if any,
that you live by?