I just watched the aftermath of someone getting stabbed in the face tonight. There’s been a lot of knife action in Chicago as of late…. Anyways! Justin and I are toying around with the idea of doing a bi-weekly streaming web show right here! I’m not sure what to expect or what we will even cover but I’m sure everyone’s mothers will come up. We’ll set a date/time later and see what happens but for now I got Marianne Williams from On Holiday to spill her guts.
I was born into sweet Iowa then moved to awful Kansas when I was in 7th grade. I knew college was my chance to escape, and since my mom was a hippie who lived in LA during the late 60s and early 70s, I grew up hearing stories and seeing photos of California in those days. I really romanticized this city as a child and still do. I love it here, but the people get pretty intense. I find myself subletting my apartment out every once in a while to travel, explore and take a break from LA. We always had a piano in our house growing up. As a child I would sneak into the music room after my sisters piano practice to try to imitate the Chopin and Bach she would endlessly loop. I still can’t read music or play by ear, but I always felt elated by my simplified Romantic/Baroque improv approximations. When I was 15, I met an opera singer that adored my voice, and in the following 3 years he taught me all of the mezzo parts in great operas like Carmen, Aida, and Cavalleria Rusticana. I came to LA/USC to continue to study, but learning about jazz, rave and hip hop, conceptual art, performance art and film distracted me from classical training. Now, music is just a personal joy for me. The compulsion to write, play and record seems endless, and the emotional release that comes after completing some new song that has lots of ticking/tocking/interlocking layers is too strong and good to quit all together. Performing is an offshoot of writing and recording at home. When I spend 6 months or 2 years writing one song, eventually I need to play it for someone besides my bunny rabbit.
What are your current favorite pieces of hardware?
I love my upright piano- the tone is incredible. It’s 600 pounds and 106 years old, and I found it in a basement in Inglewood. Also, my Ibanez Rock and Play drum machine which I found in Guangzhou, my dead grampas accordion, the autoharp which Tlr gave me for Christmas… I’m very sentimental about instruments and can not pick a “favorite”, how unfair! I used to love my Oberheim Matrix 6 because it transports you to a magical place of cheesy 80s horror films, but Qrixs broke a bunch
of the keys and it’s been dropped a lot, so now it’s starting to program its own not-good sounds. I’m pretty sure none of that is actually “hardware,” but ah, well.
What are some softwares or plugins you prefer?
A friend just hooked me up with ProTools 7 and one of those fancy M-Audio firewire sound card things. That is probably pretty basic for most of you all, but it’s a huge step for me as I only had garageband before. I still don’t understand plugins. When I record, I get all of my sounds with mics or from instruments with line outs. I like to cut and edit on the computer though.
How does your physical space and surroundings influence your workflow?
My “studio” is in one of my living rooms. I can usually only focus on a song or practice for an hour at the most, because of all the other daily crap I have to do which is staring me in the face.
Could you describe what you might think your ideal location would be?
A huge house with huge windows on a cliff outside of Rio, with a white baby grand piano on the balcony overlooking the ocean. The amazing studio and amazing chef would lure all of my amazing music friends there to live with me and record amazing albums together.
What is on your current ‘wish list’?
Rhodes, Moog Voyager, Whirly… a really warm tone keyboard. Analog echo and reverb boxes, a (working) portable turntable, and a whole collection of vintage mics, especially an old radio announcer mic. I never buy gear on ebay, it just feels wrong, so I have to wait until I discover it in some dusty thrift store or tiny music shop.
Do you have a setup for live performances?
My tiny size toy grand piano, the Rock N Play handheld drum machine, distortion pedal, toy mic, regular mic, microcube or other small amp, whatever keyboard I can borrow from one of my friends (if there’s not a piano at the venue), and the few toys I’ve wired with outputs. That’s the basic stuff, but each show is different. I love to collaborate with all kinds of people- noise artists, performance artists, puppets, and beat makers, and have happily never made the same show twice.
Are you involved in any other projects?
I’m singing in an amazing psychedelic/western band called Crooked Cowboy and the Freshwater Indians. I love it- the sound is so full and intense, and I sing these wordless rhythms and harmonies with a few other singers. Also, I am helping to coordinate the soundtrack for an indie feature film called Trilby. I don’t think I’m going to contribute to the soundtrack, just organize other musicians. For me, it’s nice and necessary to step out of the role of creator sometimes, and it’s easy for me to recognize talent and innovation in the people
On Holiday can be found here: myspace.com/holidaymusic