Mamiffer have been going for quite some time, but the recent shift of style for the band has signaled a new era for the duo. Following the release of Statu Nascendi Scene Point Blank had the chance to catch up with Faith Coloccia and Aaron Turner to gain further insight on the band's latest work, their upcoming full-length, and their record label, SIGE Records.
Scene Point Blank: I think that Mamiffer has had a really interesting evolution as a band since Hirror Enniffer first came out. How would you describe Mamiffer sound’s now in Statu Nescendi?
Faith Coloccia: In Statu Nascendi, Mamiffer sounds compositionally more simple and repetitive. The music is now a lot more vulnerable and emotional than previous Mamiffer records, maybe less "safe" also. I am more comfortable with allowing myself to share vulnerability now than I used to be.
Scene Point Blank: Personally I found your approach on the music to be more minimalistic this time around. Without the use of drums and fewer distorted guitars, even the piano parts have been reduced. What signaled that change?
Faith Coloccia: In the last few years I have found a spiritual presence evoked through a use of minimalism and repetition. Last year we were invited to do a month long tour in the US. We had a limited budget, transportation, and limited availability of members who could perform with us so we decided to tour as a duo, which turned out to be a very good choice. We created a set based on our resources and the strengths of limitation.
Scene Point Blank: You have also mentioned that Statu Nescendi is a transitional album to your upcoming full-length. Can you elaborate on that? What can we expect from Mamiffer?
Faith Coloccia: We have just completed work on a full-length that comes out in 2015. The new record elaborates on the vocal, textural, and minimal themes inherent in Statu Nascendi. The piano is more present on the upcoming record.
Scene Point Blank: A while back you released a collaboration with Circle. How was it to work with them and do you think that that collaboration influenced your sound in Statu Nescendi?
Faith Coloccia: Circle are amazing friends, creative soul mates, and family. They were perfect to work with [and] we hope to create with them again soon.
The main influence on our work with them was the Paschen organ. This influenced the sound on Statu Nascendi- I tried to imitate the size of the Paschen organ sound using a Korg SV1 through an Ampeg SVT4Pro and 8x10. In the studio while recording Statu Nascendi live, Randall Dunn ran the organ through a leslie speaker. There are overtones, and a harsh dreaminess I can get with an organ that are not as apparent in a piano, and I utilized this on Statu Nascendi, and to some extent the new record coming out next year. Collaborating with Circle was also inspirational in terms of finding my voice. During the recording Mika Rätto and I would sing together in the Pori church we recorded in. Singing with him helped me to have confidence in my voice, and the reverb of the church fit my vocal timbre well, which was an inspiration for the treatment of my vocals on Statu Nascendi.
"The music is now a lot more vulnerable and emotional than previous Mamiffer records, maybe less "safe" also. I am more comfortable with allowing myself to share vulnerability now than I used to be."
Scene Point Blank: In the past Mamiffer has collaborated with some other great acts like Locrian, Merzbow, and Pyramids, just to name a few. Do you have any plans for any more future collaborations?
Faith Coloccia: Not at the moment. I have a solo collaboration that I have been working on with Daniel Menche for a couple years and we have also been working together on making video work. For now we are focusing on Mamiffer records as a duo. However the new record coming out next year has appearances from Jon Mueller, Geneviève Beaulieu, Janne Westerlund, Joe Preston, and string arrangement from Eyvind Kang.
Scene Point Blank: Can you tell us more about the recording process? If I am not mistaken you tracked the album with Randall Dunn.
Faith Coloccia: We recorded Statu Nascendi at Avast in Seattle right after a month long tour. We went into the studio and set up the way we had been setting up on stage, and Randall recorded and live mixed the songs.
Aaron Turner: The intention was to recreate the live feeling of our set as accurately as we could--a direct translation of the energy and emotion of the live set--something that's sometimes lost in longer, more elaborate recording sessions.
Scene Point Blank: How does the creative process work for Mamiffer? Is it a collaborative process or do you work individually and then bring everything together?
Faith Coloccia: I write all of the music on piano, and then transpose to organ, voice, and other instruments while Aaron transposes onto guitar and comes up with parts based on the foundations of the songs. I also come up with the musical direction and concepts. We both make field recordings and contribute to the lyrics. Aaron records my vocal demos, and I record my piano demos onto a 4-track. When we have composed most of the material, we go over demos or record with Randall Dunn.
Aaron Turner: My role is a supportive one: helping Faith flesh out ideas, fine tune arrangements, and work on lyrics. My main instrument in Mamiffer is guitar and I'm always working on ways to integrate the guitar into our music in an appropriate way. This often means using it as a tone generator or textural tool rather that writing traditional guitar parts. Everything starts with Faith's foundational ideas and we build up from there: finding the complimentary instruments and ideas to support and expand on her original intentions.
Scene Point Blank: Faith, you also have done the artwork for quite a few bands (Knut, Mouth of the Architect, Nadja). How do you approach the artwork for a new album? Is it the music that inspires or the lyrics, for instance?
Faith Coloccia: Usually I ask the artist about what they want the art/design to look like, what they feel they want to see, and ask them to give me examples of design, art, or record covers they like. I use my intuition mixed with their ideas/themes/concepts and lyrics and music to create a visual cohesion and I try to provide a context for the music to fit in. Every design or commissioned art piece is a great mystery and challenge,
Scene Point Blank: And does your approach differ when you are working on the artwork of a Mamiffer album, or of any band that you also participate in?
Faith Coloccia: Yes, it differs a lot! In some ways I am more free because I do not have to consider another artist's aesthetic point of view, or my limited involvement with the conception of the record. With Mamiffer, by the time I make the artwork, I have been preparing myself conceptually over a period of time--sometimes years--as to what to create for the artwork, so by the time the music is complete I already know what direction to go in. Although I am also harder on myself for my own projects than I am for doing other peoples artwork/layouts. I push myself more creatively with Mamiffer, because I am so close to the project and its meanings.
Scene Point Blank: Since both Aaron and yourself are not just musicians, but also visual artists, do you find that you influence each other in both areas?
Faith Coloccia: Yes, definitely. We help each other in a lot of ways. We offer each other constructive feedback and advice on all our projects in art and music. We help each other with design or make art for each other, and often play on each other's records. Aaron helps me record demos and helps produce my vocal sound and is teaching me to play guitar. He has been instrumental in me not throwing certain compositions away and instead getting me to save them, which often result in some of my favorite songs.
Aaron Turner: We are in constant contact with each other and the work that each of us is generating: both what we're collaborating on directly and what we do individually. This is great as we can bounce ideas of each other, often seeing strengths and flaws in each other's work from the removed distance of an outsider that we're not able to see on our own. It's great for me as it helps to break me out of habits and ruts, to see things differently and push myself into territories I might not otherwise. We also have a level of depth to our relationship that allows for a really direct and honest approach to creativity that can be difficult in more casual creative and personal relationships.
"In terms of support and community, and putting out special music into the world, having a label is wonderful."
Scene Point Blank: You and Aaron also run SIGE records, putting out awesome albums by great bands. How difficult would you say is running a label today? Do you have any upcoming releases that you can let us now about?
Faith Coloccia: It can be tricky with deadlines. We have missed almost every release date with our distro this year. Vinyl plants are now requiring material 6 months out, so many of our releases have been delayed. We are lucky we have very patient supporters and bands. In terms of support and community, and putting out special music into the world, having a label is wonderful.
We have some great releases coming up:
Old Man Gloom - The Ape of God 2x cassette
Mamiffer - Statu Nascendi cassette
Faith Coloccia - new art book
SUMAC - The Deal 2xLP
Jessika Kenney - Atria LP
Oakeater - Aquarius LP
Aaron Turner/William Fowler Collins LP
Scene Point Blank: Both of you participate in a variety of different bands. Can you tell us what other projects/bands you are involved in now?
Faith Coloccia: I am involved with Mamiffer, Mára, House of Low Culture, Barnett+Coloccia, and I also make solo composition work.
Aaron Turner: SUMAC, Old Man Gloom, Mamiffer, House of Low Culture, Split Cranium, Jodis, and Greymachine, and I recently completed collaborations with Daniel Menche and William Fowler Collins.
Scene Point Blank: Is it difficult finding time for Mamiffer and SIGE?
Faith Coloccia: This year has been an exercise of balancing both Mamiffer and SIGE and it is almost impossible for me to do both and give them both the attention they deserve. We are slowing down SIGE's release schedule next year and focusing more on touring. It was a good experience, though adding in our design work, and also Hydra Head has been really challenging in terms of time management and getting enough sleep. Ha!
Aaron Turner: Finding time for everything is a constant challenge. There's so much we want to do and so many people we want to work with. It's always hard to say no to things, and that inability to say no creates a problem of excess. It's a good problem to have, though something that needs improvement moving forward. We do our best and are as efficient as possible, just need to figure out how to make room for occasional relaxation and rest!
Scene Point Blank: What are you guys currently listening to?
Faith Coloccia and Aaron Turner: Christopher William Anderson, Agarttha, Bergraven, Russel Hasswell, Kevin Drum, Zachary James Watkins, Jon Mueller, William Fowler Collins, Menace Ruine, Altar of Flies, Sewer Election, Austerity Program, Space Weather Radio station, Serial radio show, Impalers, Teitanblood, Dälek, Arvo Pärt, Black Spirtuals, Killing Sound, The Bug, Dirk Serries, Diamanda Galas, etc, etc....
Scene Point Blank: Have you discovered any new bands/artists you would like to share with us?
Faith Coloccia: Recently I have been into Sacred Tapes. A lot of their cassettes are sold out although you can get digital.
Aaron Tuner: Some of the above are recent discoveries, not all of them new bands/arts, but new to me. A few others would be Hüsker Dü, Toru Takemitsu, Puce Mary, Dead Congregation, Eliane Radigue, Hell, etc. Faith grew up listening to Einstürzende Neubauten and it's only been recently that their music has slowly seeped into my life. I'm still getting to know it and finding it inspiring.
Scene Point Blank: Mamiffer is also an active live band. Do you have any gigs coming up?
Faith Coloccia: Yes, in January and February 2015. We have a west coast tour with Russian Circles and then we are doing some shows in the southwest and then back up the coast with Jon Mueller and William Fowler Collins.
Scene Point Blank: Thanks again for finding the time to do this interview! Hopefully I will see you guys playing live sometime soon!
Faith Coloccia and Aaron Turner: Thanks!!