Smile Politely

“Come for Memoryhouse, Stay for Twin Sister”

With a feature on Pitchfork and their new EP The Years (available to download for free here) receiveing rave reviews, Guelph, Ontario’s Memoryhouse are certifiably on the up-and-up. Their miniature sound-poems hover somewhere in the middle of Fennesz’s glitched electronica, the Orb’s organic ambient experiments of the early 90s, and Best Coast’s hazy beach pop. If The Orb’s Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld (an essential and seriously underappreciated album) is ambient music stretched out to the max, then Memoryhouse is ambient’s answer to Guided By Voices — all the elements remain, but are compressed into dense, pop-sized nuggets. I caught group member Evan Abeele on the phone this past Monday afternoon, and we chatted briefly about classical music, chillwave, and photography.

SP: Hello? Can you hear me?

Evan: Yeah!

SP: So you’re coming up on the end of the tour with Twin Sister, right?

Evan: Yeah.

SP: So how’s it been going? Have the shows been good?

Evan: The shows have been really great actually. It’s been a pleasant surprise.

SP: What’s it like touring with Twin Sister? Did you know them before the tour?

Evan: We did not know them before the tour, but we’ve become really good friends with them, it’s been really awesome playing with them every night. They make us kind of elevate our show because their show’s so good, so it’s been really cool.

SP: Both Memoryhouse and Twin Sister kind of get lumped into the whole “chillwave” thing. Would you agree with that? Is Chillwave event a legit genre in your opinion?

Evan: Not really. I don’t really consider us and especially not Twin Sister as chillwave. I think that people will always find new crazy made up genres to compartmentalize the bands they like, and that’s fine, if people wanna call us chillwave or chillcore or whatever, I mean, it’s cool but we both just play pop music really.

SP: So it’s pop music, but then “Memoryhouse” is an album by [British minimalist composer] Max Richter. Has that been a musical influence on the band, or — if he even has been an influence — was it more of an aesthetic thing?

Evan: There’s definitely an interesting aspect to his work and the way he approached his compositions on that album, with these really cavernous sounded songs, I think he recorded them in a church with the BBC symphony orchestra. But I think it did influence me, absolutely. Minimalism, I studied it in university. He definitely has a big impact on how I chose to approach composition. And the way it relates to pop is that with the new songs, we do a more orchestral backing. Our new single is gonna have strings on it and acoustic drums, so we’re definitely moving into more a direction in which orchestral elements have really influenced us.

SP: So you’ve been able to apply your classical composition experience to the band?

Evan: Absolutely, yes.

SP: And with [band member] Denise Nouvion being a photographer as well, how has that influenced the band.

Evan: Denise’s photography has been one of the integral components to our band. It gives a strong mental backing to a lot of our songs. You can’t really have one without the other — her photos are so well integrated with the music and vice versa that it kind of occupies it’s own little space where the audio and visuals coalesce into something quite different.

SP: So you’re touring with visuals as well?

Evan: In our live show we have an original movie projected on to our set, our friend Jamie made, who has made a bunch of videos for us in the past. So it’s definitely as much a visual show as it is an auditory show.

SP: Do you have any plans for the future?

Evan: After this tour, we’re gonna be heading for the studio and doing a lot of recording, because we have a lot of big plans for the upcoming months, so there’s gonna be a lot of material coming out soon.

SP: If you were to try to rope someone in who maybe has never heard your band before, and you’re trying to get them to come to the show, what would you tell them?

Evan: Come for Memoryhouse, stay for Twin Sister, ’cause they’re awesome. Both bands are really putting on good shows now, we’re really getting into the groove of touring, it’ll just be a really worthwhile night.

Memoryhouse performs Friday night (August 27th) at the Canopy Club with Twin Sister and Grandkids. Tickets are $10 in advance and the show beings at 6:30 p.m.

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