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31 December 2012

Interview: Carol Rhyu of White Blush.

When The Sun Hits Interviews 
Carol Rhyu of White Blush
interview by: amber crain
White Blush, aka LA-based dream pop artist Carol Rhyu, is originally from Chicago and was in film school when she began playing in synth bands around LA. In February, she began recording under White Blush drawing from old J-horror, anime, and Julee Cruise. A few of her favorite artists also include Cocteau Twins, Mazzy Star, Kate Bush, and The Soft Moon.

How and when was the band formed?  
One time I bought a Roland 808 synth for $500 from this guy off Craigslist. The guy was cute, he was showing me how I could sing karaoke over these cheesy techno beats. He made it all seem kind of fun and silly, that’s how I got into it.  But it took me another year to actually read the manual, so I didn't begin recording until last February.  It's a solo project, and it was mostly great, except that I hate being alone.  I was feverish and anxious and ADD all the time but I think doing music just helped me sort through my own life mess.

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.)?  
Right now I’m waiting to do color correction for a music video we shot back in late August for one of the songs off the EP. It's pretty neat, it's about a waitress that flips out and goes on a rampage with a boombox and a machete in my favorite, old dumpy Pico Rivera diner.  Its pretty great, a lot more impressive than the music actually. I hope to release it soon. I'm also planning to record  more.  I’m not too focused on playing shows or touring yet though, maybe in the spring. 

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?  
I like shoegaze/dream pop a lot.  I always gravitated to it, though without being  aware of what it was.  I think the music ties in well with that scene, I'm like really into my fat, fake drums, tinker bells, and quirky samples.   They remind me of old toys and video games I had as a kid, so I think I am always trying to wallow in that sort of vast, idyllic part of my life before I ever became aware of myself as such, in a 'time before time.'  About genres, genres are great because they give you a context. I like context. I like categories. 

What do you think of modern shoegaze/dream pop/psychedelia artists, any favorites?  
I really feel like I don’t know that many artists but of mention, I love John Maus, The Soft Moon, Chromatics, Kavinsky, and Grimes.  I'm not following as many modern shoegaze/dream pop artists these days.  Generally, they all feel sort of washed out, like literally, and not just because of the style. Sometimes it just sounds like indie rock, which is really boring I don't know why.  I guess I like music to be more visceral and cutting, more stripped down and spacious, and not organic, from outerspace ideally.

What is the most important piece of gear for your sound? Any particular guitars/pedals/amps that you prefer?  
I think it’s my old crappy USB mic, it’s the best. Nothing else really comes to mind.  I like the 808.  It's  tedious and definitely takes its pound of flesh, but I'm  overall  pleased.

What is your process for recording your music? What gear and/or software do you use? What would you recommend for others? 
I start by finding drums and basslines I like on the 808 and listening to them until a melody comes out. That could take days or weeks, sometimes not at all. Then I record  synths and strings around the vocals.  I use Garageband for recording  vocals. I mostly recommend just taking  the time you need to get a great melody. Everything else is just sort of fluff. Do it right once and you'll always remember what it's supposed to feel like when it happens again. 

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?  
I think it's mostly positive, artists will just have to create their own opportunities and learn a broader set of skills and innovate the ways in which we reach audiences beyond just music itself.  We just have to be more entrepreneurial and learn to do what labels do, and do it more effectively.

When it comes to label releases versus DIY/bandcamp and the like, what is your stance, if any? 
If an artist can find their audience without a label,  that’s a really special and beautiful thing even if it's on a small scale.  I don't know much about labels, but I think they're still important.  They share the load and still launch careers. For the rest of us, we have to put our shoulder to the wheel and learn to compete at that level by all means necessary. Otherwise, we should step aside and make room for the next guy and make music a hobby.

Do you prefer vinyl, CD, cassette tape or mp3 format when listening to music? Do you have any strong feelings toward any of them?  
I don’t have a preference.  I don’t  have a record player, but I want one.  For some reason I thought record players were for rich people. I think it's because they're all trendy now I totally forgot my dad used to have one.   He played  the same Beethoven  record for years.   I used to have cassettes, I remember we would pass around mixtapes, mostly 'slow jams.' I love the sound of it rewinding and hearing the sound all slippery and garbled. 

What artists (musicians or otherwise) have most influenced your work? 
Julee Cruise, especially off the Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks soundtracks.  She just seems to me  so plain and style-less as a singer, and I like that a lot.  One time my old boss showed me two paintings, one with very smooth and straight lines and another with jagged, odd and irregular lines. He asked me which was more interesting, and since then I began to understand what sort of artist I wanted to become.  

Can you tell us a little about what you are currently into (books, films, art, bands, etc.)?  
I mostly think about movies.  The last movie that blew my mind was Battle Royale.  I want to see Blade Runner again, Paris Texas, The Bothersome Man, Tarkovsky's Stalker,  my friend's poetry book Party Knife.  It's all pretty dark and philosophical stuff.  I regret I never went to get a PhD in Philosophy but maybe I will when I'm 40, for now  watching movies are the closest I can possibly get to that ideal. 

Can you tell us a little about the band’s song writing process? 
I always lead with my strengths and just accept that I can't be great at everything, but that I can be great at this one or two things, so I put all my energy into those things, and let everything else support that. 

What is your philosophy (on life), if any, that you live by?  
I'm still really drawn to existential motifs.  I like the philosophy by Lao Tsu and the stoic writings by Marcus Aurelius. They're really simple and beautiful, not sure I live by those philosophies, because sometimes I think there is a God, but I definitely identify with them, especially in my work.