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13 May 2011

Interview: Sarah of Spacewaves.

Spacewaves is a Shoegaze/Psychedelic outfit consisting of members Sarah, White Water, Ghost Ghost Teeth, and Carlo, and they hail from Echo Park/Los Angeles. They caught the interest of many in 2009 with the release of their first EP, 60 Days, but the band really started to gather momentum earlier this year, upon the release of their excellent LP, Receptions (January 2011). Spacewaves may possibly be the awesome band that you haven't heard yet but have been looking for, and we here at When The Sun Hits think you should rectify that immediately and check them out (clicking the album names above will take you to the band's bandcamp page, where you can stream or purchase them). We are thrilled to present the following interview with lovely band member Sarah. Thank you, Sarah, it was a pleasure! Keep gazing!

How and when was the band formed?

Kelley and I were housemates in Portland, Oregon. He had the upstairs of the house and would play his guitar every day. I really liked it and he said I should play bass with him sometime. That was sometime around late 2007 or early 2008, I believe. Then in the winter of 2008 I started writing songs... not on purpose... I would wake up with a melody in my head or something like that. So we just started recording them. Those ended up being the three songs on our first EP. The first track on the EP was something Kelley had recorded on his own already that I really liked it. Eventually we moved to Los Angeles and at a show we played at Club Violaine someone came up to me afterwards and said he hated us. So, I liked him right away... that was Carlo (C
is for Carlo, Ole') and now he's our drummer. Then my friend Simon, who makes art under the name ghostghostteeth, moved back to L.A. from San Francisco and started jamming with us. Simon and I had briefly played in a band together back around 2003 or so. So that is the
shortened version of how we formed and where we're at right now.

Can you tell us what the band has been working on and what you've got forthcoming in the near future (new releases, tour, etc)?

We have released a 4-song EP and an 8-song album. The songs on those were all written and played by me and Kelley, with Carlo playing drums on a couple of songs on the album. Since there are 4 of us now we want to work on new material as a group. Like Simon and Kelley have been bringing songs to the table that they sing on. We are slowly working on our next album. We'll probably finish it up soon and try to figure out what to do with it. We are playing a show May 25th in Portland with the Upsidedown. We'd like to tour more, it's just a matter of finding the time for it. We may do a tour in the fall, either the West coast or head over to Texas. Kelley also has tons of solo stuff he wants to do something with...

Do you consider Spacewaves’ music to be part of the current shoegaze/dream pop scene, or any scene? Defining one's sound by a 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?

Interesting topic especially with today's technologies... I think genres are great for certain things, like categorizing music if you work at a radio station or something, but ultimately music is music
and all of that stuff is just to help make sense of it. I guess I don't really feel too much like we are part of any scene in particular... maybe because we are relatively new and have little exposure. I think Kelley and I certainly bonded over a lot of shoegazey type of music but I feel we are still experimenting and are open to different sounds in our music. Kelley records bands and does
mixing and mastering as well, so I guess in that sense we are part of a music scene. He does some booking and is organizing a festival May 28th that some really great bands are playing! In a broader sense I grew up in Long Beach, California and the schools I went to had great music programs, and so many people I know are really talented musicians who play music now. I also had some really great teachers... so I guess I do feel a pretty strong connection to parts of the Los Angeles music scene just because I am from there and have been playing music for a long time. I think that every person's musical expression is unique and it is such a great way of expressing yourself... um I'm kind of off topic now. Back to genres... I think in the broader sense
we are under the rock/psych rock umbrella, especially with the live setup we have. Our album recordings differ from our live sounds because on the albums we used more electronic drums and synths, and live we have live drums, two guitars, bass and vocals. So... I guess we are still changing and figuring things out! The next album should be more representative of our current live sound and we'll probably record as much of it live as possible.

Space Waves. Satanist's Prayer.

What do you think of modern shoegaze/dream pop/psychedelia artists, any favorites?

I love them! There are so many great ones...LSD and the Search for God, Foxtail Somersault, Ringo Deathstarr, Molino, the Upsidedown, Old Toy Trains, Happy Prescriptions, Souvenir Driver, Go Fever, Pete International Airport, Space Waves... ha! :) The Foreign Resort, the Black Angels...I'm sure I could go on but I guess that's good for now.

What is the most important piece of gear for your sound? Any particular guitars/pedals/amps that you prefer?

Kelley has a Swart Atomic Space Tone amp that is pretty central to our sound, and also some Moogerfoogers. He is definitely more the gear tech-head than me, though I am learning... I play a short scale Gretsch bass, which has a little different sound than a standard bass. I
dunno, the gear is certainly important but it's more what you do with it that matters, and the people behind it... I feel lucky to be playing with these musicians as I think everyone has something really great to offer. Carlo is awesome... he's the perfect drummer for us. When we did the Mazzy Star set he hadn't played drums in years and it sounded spot-on. That was actually how we started playing together. And I love Simon's guitar playing too... I'm not sure
exactly what pedals he has. I think one is called Echo Park. Kelley has a Fender Jazzmaster. It's the J. Mascis one. He has it customized though for his playing style. I only use one reverb pedal on my bass right now. I used to have more but Kelley kind of stole my other ones for
his guitar. He absorbed them into his pedalboard. Like a sponge.

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?

Definitely I think it's positive, just because I think music in general is a positive thing. Like a forest there are the old, big trees that have been there a long time, and there are the little
sprouts on the ground. The old trees kind of protect the small trees, but at the same time there has to be room for the new trees to grow. And there are all these different ecosystems within the same forest. The old, established record labels/distribution systems are way up there and then the smaller, local scenes are closer to the ground... I guess our biggest hurdle at the moment is just getting our music in people's ears. We seem to be recording music and writing songs fasterAdd Image
than we know what to do with... hopefully they won't just end up sitting in the computer for no one to hear! Or maybe when we're in our 50s we'll finally get it figured out. :)

When it comes to label releases versus DIY/bandcamp and the like, what is your stance, if any?

I think it all depends on the band and the label and what the objectives are and what realistically they want and are able to do... there seems to be an element of fate to it. I like to think that the
music/songs have a life and mind of their own and will find their way to the people that need to hear them.

Do you prefer vinyl, CD, cassette tape or mp3 format when listening to music? Do you have any strong feelings toward any of them?

Any music format is good! I love vinyl because it sounds so great and is fun, and the artwork is big. But it can be a hassle sometimes having to keep getting up to turn the record over. Mp3s are great in that sense because they can just keep playing on into infinity. Vinyl is also heavy and more susceptible to heat damage so it has to be stored the right way. But it's also so durable and sounds the best to me.

What artists (musicians or otherwise) have most influenced your work?

The Doors, sonically and philosophically; Slowdive... Mazzy Star... Simon and I bonded over music in high school... he introduced me to a lot of music, like the Clash and Bedhead. Kelley has also introduced me to a lot of music, especially bands from the Northwest that I had never heard, like Swoon 23 and King Black Acid.

Can you tell us a little about what you are currently into (books, films, art, bands, etc)?

At this very moment, murder mysteries. I just read an Agatha Christie book. I've always loved her! And we've been watching Columbo. We've also been watching some Twilight Zone. At I think it was our first or second practice with Carlo we ended up watching the Holy Mountain. I
was pretty surprised that we watched it all the way through, but it went by really fast. Simon makes really fascinating paintings and drawings and he's the new art coordinator at this all-ages music venue/art space that our friends run (Pehrspace). Awhile back him and Kelley went
out to the Salton Sea and shot a bunch of footage. Hopefully we will incorporate that into a music video. My most recent record purchase was a Jimi Hendrix BBC session (triple vinyl!). Lately I've been listening to a lot of Nick Drake and Elliott Smith... well Elliott Smith is pretty much a staple for me now. I'm all over the place...

There's just too much out there to stay very focused on anything for too long. I guess that's the nature of this stuff anyway! It's always there to come back to.

If you had to choose one Spacewaves track that was the ultimate definition of your sound, which would it be and why?

"Flying Blanket" because it's a fun journey and the point of it is to feel cosmically connected.

Can you tell us a little about the band’s song writing process?

For the EP and album songs I would have either a bass line or vocal melody in my head and we would just start recording and figure the song maybe I'd have some words written down somewhere and I'd think they'd go along perfectly with the bass... A lot of those
songs were never played before we recorded them. So the recordings are the very first time we played them. "Walking By" was like that... I had that bass line in my head and just recorded it and fit some lyrics to it... we just went for it! That was the first song we recorded. Like I said before things are changing now though. The next album will have more of Kelley's and Simon's songs. We also all love to just improvise and sometimes we'll record those jams.

What is the band’s goal for 2011?

Get the loose ends on some of the songs tied up, record, finish the next album, play some fun shows and ideally tour. I'd like to get more videos done. Getting some vinyl pressed would be cool...

What is your philosophy (on life), if any, that you live by?

The only way out is through.

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