Charles Brownstein interviews Dayve Hawk aka Memory Tapes about progression, collaboration and experimentation. Memory Tapes is Hawk’s New Jersey based project and will be releasing his third LP Grace/Confusion this December on Carpark Records.
CB: Can you elaborate on your description of Memory Tapes? You have described it as “Pop music as field recordings”.
DH: I have been recording since I was a little kid and I’ve got stacks of tapes that parallel my adolescence. I think the type of music I’m making at any given point in time says more about myself than the actual meaning of the song itself. I always tell people that I’m not
trying to make the “best” record but the most accurate to a given moment in time.
CB: Your upcoming album Grace/Confusion sounds even more ambitious than your previous recordings, Are you constantly trying to move in more experimental directions?
DH: Well, in keeping with what I said before, the ambition of this record was meant to be representative of my state of mind. I felt lost and conflicted and I think there’s a great history of over-ambitious music made by people who’ve lost touch with their better judgement. I decided to embrace that and almost make a progressive sort of LP, but
instead of being fueled by some kind of hubris it was knowingly insecure. I wanted to shake the indecision off by using it.
CB: Were you trying to move a bit away from dance music on the upcoming album?
DH: In some ways I was trying to move back towards it after maybe forcing myself away from electronic music a little to strictly with my last record. I looked back and realised I had been trying to get out of my skin before I ever really got comfortable in it in the first place. Having said that, I never let “dance” be a factor in what I do: there are way too many rules in that world and I get bored.
CB: Your video for ‘Yes I know’ was nominated for a Grammy, pretty impressive! What was your reaction when you found out?
DH: I was just very happy for Eric Epstein who made the video. He approached me as a fan and he basically made the video by himself in his apartment for no money. I thought what he did was amazing and I usually hate videos: they are very much a record label thing to me, but his was great. He deserved the nomination and I look at it as being for him, not me.
CB: Does the success of ‘Seek Magic’ put any pressure on you?
DH: I feel like everything I do is seen as a failure in comparison so it can be frustrating. I’m not sure where some people come from when they want me to just build on that record eternally. It exits already, so why not move in other directions? This goes back to what I said earlier about not trying to make the “best” record: I want to experiment, I want to fail and sometimes I’d like to get it right… it’s not a straight path so I appreciate the people who stay with me. We are not going to the top, just somewhere.
CB: You have some pretty interesting sound effects on your albums, including running shoes on a basketball court and a bicycle pump. What kind of other interesting sounds can listeners look forward to? How do you decide what you wanna use for different effects?
DH: I look at sounds like that as almost a subliminal element. I place them all over the tracks in an effort to get people closer to where my head is at with the music. It’s like when you try and explain a dream: “I was in a mall but it was also the house I grew up in”, those semi-pretentious, kind of abstract ideas are easiest to get across with imagery and I think found sounds are the sonic equivalent.
CB: Are you tempted to release another 22 minute remix of one of your songs a la ‘Treeship’?
DH: There is a similar piece called “The Black Reel” that comes with certain copies of Grace/Confusion actually.
CB: You worked with Diiv on their song ‘Follow’, how did you guys end up working together, seems like a good fit?
DH: I actually met Cole on tour in Australia, he was playing guitar for another band. When I heard DIIV I didn’t realize it was him but I really liked the guitars on the record so it worked out.
CB: Can you tell me five albums from your collection which continue to inspire you?
DH: Terry Riley “Rainbow In Curved Air”
Hawkwind “In Search Of Space”
Wire “Pink Flag”
Autechre “Tri Repetae”
David Bowie “Scary Monsters”