Sunday, February 22, 2009

Kelvin-Helmholtz Records artist showcase

Tonight, Club Congress is hosting a showcase for artists on the local Kelvin-Helmholtz record label collective, which is releasing a new compilation album, In Robust We Trust.

I caught up with David Lane, singer and guitarist for Blankets, to talk about Kelvin-Helmholtz and the new album.

Blankets will headline the show, which also features Lazy Lungs, Caleb Christopher, Irregular Instrument and Jessica Crocker. It's an early show, starting at 6 p.m.

Catfish Vegas: How did the Kelvin-Helmholtz label/collective come about?

David Lane: Kelvin-Helmholtz Records was created in 2003 in Prescott, Arizona to express appreciation for and aid the exposure of the music that was being created there. These motives created the "Prescott Made Me Do It" compilation, which was first sold in a large warehouse with almost every band appearing on the compilation performing to celebrate its release. Further plans for the label focused mostly on a small quantity of artists originally appearing on the first sixteen-track compilation.

CV: Are there any sort of shared approaches to music and songwriting that tie together the label's artists?

DL: Every artist currently associated with the label treats album creation as a primary concern of their expression, so their musical desires are satisfied in the recording process. Songwriting intended more for recording than live performance will inevitably yield a different result than the inverse intention.

CV: The approach seems to be very much in the spirit of collaboration. How do the K-H artists influence, encourage and inspire each other?

DL: Whilst avoiding obvious influences on each other such as consistently performing each others songs live or creating compilations of inter-label covers, there is a constant inspiration in the fact that we all may rely on each other for individual recording specializations and encouragement in invitations for performance or recording events. Why, I remember Sam from Lazy Lungs calling me one day for a show and within four hours I was playing drums with several strangers on the Café Passé patio. It was quite a pleasant Saturday afternoon.

CV: Is there any sort of particular Kelvin-Helmholtz spin to the indie DIY spirit?

DL: Many DIY communities seem to be very desperate to set themselves apart as unique entities. I can only speculate as to their mental process, but it seems they choose a persona to embody and then force it into reality as much as possible giving the actual music and recordings much less thought than, say, a gimmick such as a costume in which to perform. Perhaps it is simply a passive nature inherent in those who have grown up in slightly-mountainous, slightly-rural, slightly-northern-Arizonan Prescott, but our focus has always been on creating albums and making them available.

In fact, the majority of musical artists on the label have recorded more albums, most of which are not actually for sale on our website since we must have some discretion in how much of ourselves is actually appealing to the public, than they have played live shows. We are sort of like seventeenth-century, English pamphlet-makers with poor distribution publishing under semi-anonymous titles, only not political. Poetic pamphleteers, one might say.

CV: This is the second Kelvin-Helmholtz compilation. How would you describe the creative process behind In Robust We Trust? What makes this compilation different from Prescott Made Me Do It?

DL: Since the aforementioned creation of Kelvin-Helmholtz Records, the label has transformed into entirely a different operation. Control has shifted from two people to nine (although this number is flexible). The second compilation reflects this. Two people recorded all the songs for "Prescott Made Me Do It", and almost every artist on "In Robust We Trust" recorded themselves. The compilation was put together more democratically and inefficiently, which is representative of the label in general. But the music itself is definitely much more united under one hissy umbrella.

CV: Describe the label's ongoing covers project?

DL: The cover projects began when the members of Blankets, which is the only active Kelvin-Helmholtz artist playing in the same form now as they did when the label commenced, wished to see how like-minded they truly are; so they engaged in a secret cover-making project to see if two selected the same song. It was a secret kept from one another, so that recordings were unveiled between the three without knowledge of what song would be covered. It is like receiving a present or a love letter: a song written only for each other to hear to create a stronger bond between us. More artist participation has only created more enjoyability and childish secrecy in the project, and eventually we decided to share them with whomever might be interested on the internet. I met some Gainsbourg fans who liked 'em.

CV: What can we expect at the showcase on Sunday?

DL: We will be trying to translate what usually begins as a song for a recording into a live performance. It will be a unique event, and I hope some might have their interest piqued into searching the deepening, unstable cave that is filled with us and our thoughts on what an album or a song or a pamphlet should be. It is an invitation, and I hope it is attractive.

Charles Myers - Tangled in Fiction Dance
Lazy Lungs - Oh, The Joy of Having You
Andrew Lane - Living With Them
And check out the Kelvin-Helmholtz cover songs project here

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