Photography by Lauren Dukoff
NATURALISMO: Your life’s journey has taken to the far corners of America and beyond, from Milwaukee to San Francisco to New York to Los Angeles and many points outside our borders. What have learned about yourself and about your art from each of these places?
MATTEAH BAIM: I have been moving since I was 17. The most surprising thing I’ve gotten from moving around so much is an anchor that sort of sits at my creative core. Each place offers a sort of different energy and potential you can tap into if that anchor is in place. Maybe it’s a little like how a surfer feels about waves at different beaches? I’ve never surfed though, so we’d have to ask someone about that.
N: How do you conceptualize a song? Is the song something that is born of the moment or is it a landscape that has been fully explored before any recording takes place?
MB: I try my best to let the songs write themselves. There are times I’m more successful at this then others. I work with a lot of notebooks and demos before I go into the studio to map out the pieces. Fluidity and organization seem to go hand in hand when it comes to recording. At times, you have to throw some of those maps away but for whatever reason they have to be there to throw out.
N: In the past, you have created music with others and by yourself. In what ways have artistic communities and collaborations (or perhaps lack thereof) influenced your work? Do you find creation lubricated or disrupted by outside influence?
MB: No doubt, it has done both those things. I think the important thing is just to keep playing. The inevitable ups, downs, and sideways can be sorted out if the connection to the music remains… if you can keep listening, then you’ll always know what to do.
N: What were the differences between the conception and recording processes of Laughing Boy and Death Of The Sun?
MB: We had just made the Falcons record and I certainly hadn’t planned on making any kind of solo one after that. Death was finished before I knew what had happened. It was some kind of immediate need.. maybe a little bit like a monster has for a slab of beef or something. I just ripped into it, recording most of it on a 4-track in a garage in Venice Beach. With Laughing Boy, I think the monster put on a pair of pants and tried to comb it’s hair a little. I had a couple quiet months before going into the studio to work only on writing, preparing and arranging. That was a real joy that I hope repeats itself for longer and longer bits of time.
N: I’ve read that you’ve been working on creating music for films — which films are these? How have you been enjoying the process?
MB: I’ve been working with a couple different artists on their films, Susanne Winterling for her project, The Circle, The Line, and with Pillars of Fire in Paris. I have really been enjoying it. It’s this whole other kind of collaboration where you have to ‘listen’ to visuals and respond. It’s exciting to see the film sort of breathing with the sounds after it’s all put together.
N: Making music for film requires the musician to both capture and enhance the images that are presented on screen. Describe a scene that you feel your own music, specifically Laughing Boy, would complement?
MB: Hmm… for whatever reason when you ask that I get this scene from Rebel Without a Cause in my head. It’s the one when the three main characters are in the mansion hiding from everyone and the kid falls asleep with Jim’s jacket over him. In the film, it is sort of the eye of the storm when intimacy is possible. I would like to see if one of the songs from the record could fit with that kind of moment.
N: If you could ask everyone who listened to your records to only listen at a certain time of day, what time would that be?
MB: Whatever time of day you can turn the volume up all the way…
[ buy ] Death of the Sun & Laughing Boy
[ download ] Pagoda
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