Northern Transmissions talks to Adam from Gardens and Villa about roughing it in the studio and scoring a film among other interesting topics.
NT: I first hit on the subject with Adam about morphing into a bit more of a synth-pop indie sounding band
AR: We were a three-piece for a long time, and that’s kind of how we came together under a different name, and that’s pretty much what we were listening to a lot of the time. The drummer
was a trained jazz drummer, Levi, and I was the classical pianist and Chris was influenced by a lot of choral music and had been singing it his whole life, pretty much. So, when we started that project, I guess it kind of fell along the lines more like Classical music forms than pop sensibilities, and there were three of us so it was quite a bit louder, to fill it out. I’d say it’s probably less intricate, and more about songs that would last ten minutes and have three movements than the traditional three, four, five minute pop songs what with choruses and all that. And then when we kind of split up for about a year, before Gardens and Villa formed, and kind of went off on our own adventures, musically, when we came back together we thought we would try it out and we really fell in love with trying to write songs that are trying to tell stories, songs that reflect dreams, as opposed to songs that are just walls of noise, you know? So, I think that’s how we got more into the traditional form of songs, and I’d been collecting synths for a long time, and I kind of just wanted to branch out into that and away from classical piano a little bit.
NT: I know that your record… you recorded it with the multitalented Richard Swift. How was that experience? It sounded like it was a bit rough? Not rough in the sense that it was hard, but
more like you kind of “roughed it” in the studio?
AR: Oh yeah, absolutely. We were out there for a couple of weeks, and we didn’t have a whole lot of money, you know, we kind of just did it with everything we could, and took loans, and went up there to record. The weather was really nice, and we’re all nature-enthusiasts anyway, so camping in the backyard seemed like a really good idea… and it was. We really enjoyed it. We kind of elected not to shower (laugh), because there was a really great swimming hole that was close by, and we also met his wife and his three daughters, and we kinda didn’t want to get in their way and impose on them. We were just getting in there, and doing our record, and we were just trying to respect their space as a family, you know?
NT: The band has fondness for the outdoors. What effect or influence does it have on your music?
AR: We derive a lot of our inspiration from nature. We all go for hikes, and go camping, and climbing, and going to the ocean and swimming, and I think that’s probably worked its way into the album quite a bit… and places like Carrizo Plain—you know, Chris went out there, and you know, it’s not necessarily a song that’s dedicated or a song to Carrizo Plain… it just happened to be a location where something kind of magical happened for him. I’d say another one of our influences would be… well, it’s probably in many parts influenced: a lot of it is nature; we’ll draw a lot of inspiration from impressionist art and impressionist music, you know? I think that there’s definitely a nature “lean” for the record, but that it’s only one of our influences.
NT: So, you guys scored a silent film—you’re playing it live at the Santa Barbara film festival… how did this all come about?
AR: Yeah, we actually performed it on February 4th, and yeah… that was a great opportunity. It was less of a Gardens and Villa project, and more that we just wanted to try something creative, a different avenue. The opportunity was kind of strange: we kind of saw it put together at the
Cannes film fest and saw a band do it there, and he said he really wanted to bring it to our festival here, and he was at a friend’s house (a friend of ours, a mutual friend) and she put on our record, and he’d never heard of us, and he’s like, “this is really cool!” and he was inspired and reached out and said “wait, you know this guys?” and she said yeah, to give us a call. So he got hold of us and we picked Faust and we really wanted to do a black and white film. So we put it on mute, watched it a number of times, and worked out a score for it through December and January.
NT: You guys have some pretty big shows coming up—are you excited about playing Coachella, and I think you’re also playing Denton at the big festival there… have you done other big shows like that in the past?
AR: Coachella will be the biggest show that we’ve ever played. We’ve had kind of a taste of that we were on tour last summer, so we played to some pretty large crowds and that was one of our first touring experiences, so right off the bat we got used to playing for a thousand people, but if
anything, we had to strip everything we learned of that to like, going on a tour proper to promote our record once we got off the support tours. Coachella is really going to be something else. It’s always been a dream of ours. A few friends made it up there about three years ago, and that’s essentially what they said verbatim: they said, “We’ve been going to this for years, and I can’t believe we’re standing on this stage right now”. That’s pretty much how we feel. It’s going to be a pretty huge opportunity for us.
NT: So, I’ve seen a couple of your videos, and they’re both pretty conceptual videos and I’m curious about the “Black Hills”one—could you tell me a bit about that one?
AR: Yeah, absolutely. We drove out to Oregon to do that one because we really liked the
aesthetic of the woods up there, and it was closer to Richard—Richard directed and produced the video with a friend of his, Lance… he did all the video engineering, and they live up there… so we went up there. It kind of started with the concept about a boy who has a space gem that he’s trying to protect, and that kind of spiralled off over a couple of months of conversation, and by the time we got up there he knew the order of what he wanted to see. His friend Lance, who’s super-talented with a camera, kind of put together a calendar and we went through all the shots, and it was a lot of fun. It was fun to act and to get out of your day-to-day personality, and get into character.
NT: Are you guys working on any new music right now? Can we expect anything new down the
AR: Yeah, we’re spending as much time as we can on it when we’re not on tour, with kind of a goal of wrapping up the ideas and hopefully we’ll have enough time to really follow them down
the rabbit hole, you know, and make them all that they can be. Hopefully we’ll be done with that process by the winter and I mean, it’s hard to say… you don’t want to say that yeah, this is when it’s coming out because things happen, you know, but I think the goal of ours is to put it out in spring or summer of next year.