Monday, May 11, 2009
Dead Leaf Echo - Ethereal Movements Through Time
Dead Leaf Echo has been written-up more times in the past few months than most New York bands get in a year. With good reason. What LG, Mike, Liza and Ana have done is simply re-created the shoegaze sound for the modern era. You know, shoegaze: that UK-founded, skirting on post-punk subgenre of alternative that started with Jesus & Mary Chain, ended with Adorable and saw the likes of Ride, Lush and My Bloody Valentine in between. Not an easy task. To take on the great shoe-groups of the 80s and 90s is a daunting task at best, much less equal or better them. And though it’s probably inaccurate to say that Dead Leaf Echo is the sole-proprietor of this re-invented movement, they are certainly the new chairpersons.
They have quietly and subtly reached back in time, crafting a sound that rings with familiarity of creatively noisy guitars blended with that complementing croon of LG’s. But there is so much more to Dead Leaf Echo than a simple re-invention of a classic sound. LG knows exactly what needs to be done to modernize and re-introduce the genre to a new generation, as well as people like yours truly who long for yesteryear’s sounds. He has more than a list of influencers. He has gone out his way to tap into their minds and hearts to find out what made them tick, listened closely to what they did, worked with some of the greats, and, with his bandmates, crafted a crashing sonic onslaught that reverberates your mind and body to the core.
OAN: LG, let’s talk about the shoegaze movement for a minute. You and I have talked and shared some thoughts about it. Relay in your own words what shoegaze is and means to you.
LG: It's a funny word word isn't it? Once something of degradation is now worn with pride by many. Almost purely a British colloquialism 15+ years ago. I remember they called Ride - grunge here in the states when it came out. But now it's made it's big comeback especially with MBV last year and everybody loves dropping that word on anything. Any thing with reverb now on it is Shoegaze isn't it? Use delay? Oh! Shoegaze band. Press buzz word eh? But how many people really know what it references? Sure more people now than ever, but still if you asked somebody on the street, they'd probably wouldn't even look at you. Remember the old saying about the Velvet Underground? How nobody really bought their records but everybody that did started a band, it's kinda of like that with Shoegaze. There's more bands than there are fans. Are we a shoegaze band? No. Sure people say we wear our influences on our sleeves, whether you want to call that dream-pop or etherial post-punk or Regional Mexican is up to you.
OAN: There is an air of mystery about Dead Leaf Echo, meaning, you have indeed very quietly gone about your business, remained focused, created fantastic work and let it speak for itself. You’ve had two pressings of “Pale Fire” sell-out completely which is quite a feat. “Faint Violet Whiff” as well. You haven’t done many interviews, but have very much been showered with the attention and affection of the media and fans. If you would, talk about the attention your two releases have gotten (not to mention the hype coming from the soon-to-be-release) and enigma the mystery is purely incidental or crafted a bit. And are there thoughts of re-printing the first release?
LG: Well as to re-printing the 1st release- no. Because I don't feel “Faint Violet Whiff” is what it could have been- I don't much care for it, sonically and feel that some of the songs on there should be given the chance to be re-birthed under different circumstances. As far as the mystery part of it, I just think we're very private people who haven't put that much of ourselves out there, not that we've really been thrown under any spotlight or anything.
OAN: LG, Dead Leaf Echo is your creation, your passion, and clearly the band shares in your enthusiasm and creativity in what you play, but how much collaboration is there in writing and composing each song? Do you construct by yourself then tap into them to expand? Or are there concept sessions where each member brings ideas to the table?
LG: I am the carrier of the torch for this band, but it would simply not exist without the passions and drive of everyone involved, period. Mike DiLalla has been there since the beginning and has encouraged me and helped throughout all the struggles that we've faced. What Liza has given has also been tremendous, and they have both have stamped their own distinct personalities on the songs. Ana in the last year has given so much of her time to helping us out in anyway she can that I'm forever indebted to her. Regarding the song, they all grow organically from the root up and continue to evolve even after they have been recorded live.
OAN: What does it mean to you to be in New York and having this kind of passionate atmosphere supporting you. Do you think you could do this anywhere, or is the character of New York and the music scene here a big influence? I ask because your sound just seems to fit here.
LG: New York awakened me to many things, and gave me a much needed ass-kicking. It's very hard here but for good reason, if you can survive here you will position yourself well in the world. As far as the music scene here being an influence that would only extend to certain friends in my close circle, as I feel there's always an extraordinary amount of extraneous waste you have to wade through on a daily basis. Of course there's not really any one scene here, its way too big for that, that's the conflict right? Everywhere else nothing to do, here too much on your plate. And no I don't think we could pull off what we're doing here in most parts of North America, I think New York or maybe parts of the West coast are the only places that could accept it. Europe on the other hand I think would take to it with open arms.
OAN: I actually might take those as words to live by. Thanks.
Your contacts, your collaborations, your work with outside personas is a must-discuss. We’ve talked about your conversations that you’ve had with Piotr Fijalkowski (Adorable). And you’ve worked with both John Fryer and Ulrich Schnauss. Describe what your experience in working with some legends has been like and how it’s affected your music.
LG: Well I've only spoken to Pete briefly over email, but he's a major influence for me and I hope to cross paths with him one day. I've been extremely lucky to work with both John and Ulrich. Especially with Ulrich- he's like no one else I've met. He's most the most supportive person I've meet in regards to this crop of new artists that are coming into focus now.
OAN: Are there any other creative outlets you explore to kind of step away from music? I ask because you have some very interesting album art. So perhaps photography is something you dabble in? Or do you leave that to better hands?
LG: The complete visual image is of integral importance to the band. Vision+Sound is a complete package especially when in regards to Dead Leaf Echo. Album artwork is very important to the work whether I'm designing it or working with someone else on it, and then there's moving images. Live we use original visual projections on the band created both from digital and celluloid formats. The 1st three videos we released were shot all on Super 8. We're now working on a new video for 'Half-Truth' shot on 16mm.
OAN: Anything else you want to tell the fans? Anything at all?
LG: Vinyl! We're gonna bring it. Hopefully a 7 inch first. But really the band hasn't even really started yet, everything up to this point has purely been experimental in terms of exposition. We've only done these small collection of pieces so far, but the band has to grow first as a unit in addition to outside factors stepping in to elevate the band to the next level on both an artistic platform and as a functioning entity.
OAN: LG, my friend, thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions and letting myself and everyone get some wonderful insight into someone who is truly passionate and frighteningly well-versed about what they create. I thoroughly enjoyed the show at Public Assembly and am looking forward to many more. Cheers!
MP3: Act of Truth - from "Truth"
MP3: Pale Fire (Ulrich Schnauss Mix) - from "Pale Fire"
MP3: The Moon Seven Times - Her House
MP3: Orange Yellow Red - Into Your Arms
MP3: The Mary Onettes - Dare
MP3: Adorable - Vendetta
MP3: Her Vanished Grace - Sirens
MP3: New Fast Automatic Daffodils - Bruises
MP3: The Boo Radleys - Alone Again Or
MP3: The Durutti Column - Believe in Me
MP3: Kitchens of Distinction - Elephantine
Purchase "Truth," First Pressing