Tu Fawning explore a twisted electronic folk that initially feels very polished and contemporary in it’s sound, but very soon you realise that the feral heart that beats within is smashing at the walls to get out. The City Slang signed band are currently on tour in Europe promoting their second album A Monument, and we managed to catch up with band member Joe Haege in Berlin.
Bowlegs: There seems to be a wildness at the centre of your music. Are you aware of where that comes from?
JH: Absolutely. We all love music that really goes for it, regardless of genre, niche, coolness or anything. Also, so much of our favorite music is not all boxed up, so we want to follow in its footsteps.
Bowlegs: Do you think the wildness is helped by the personalities in the band?
JH: The personality blend definitely doesn’t detract from anything. We are distinctly 4 different people and we all bring very different energy to it. Liza and I are probably the most spastic.
Bowlegs: So what’s behind the heart of your darkness?
JH: A cute fluffy cat and cookie with a smiley face on it.
Bowlegs: And there’s a folky quality to your music that certainly isn’t generic or expected… maybe it’s a certain historical grandeur in the sound. It feels guttural and dirty, and has a ”There Will Be Blood” element to it for us. How are you playing with archaic forms, and what do you think your relationship might be to folk idioms? Are you part of a tradition do you think?
JH: This is going to sound slightly pretentious, but I think we’re more a part of it than a lot of music that traipses around as “folk” these days. That is meant to say more about what is considered folk these days than anything else. I think we kind of have a penchant for a different era of western society’s musical past. Personally, I’m kind of obsessed with wondering what it must have been like for an early American and/or British composer to have gone to Africa in the early 20′s. Oh to be a fly on the wall.
Bowlegs: How do you relate what you do to the state that the world is in? Is your sound politically engaged do you think?
JH: Not overtly, but I think sometimes one’s life and actions are more your politics than anything else. We definitely don’t try to exclude a humane element to our music, and to do that in an earnest way is, in my opinion, more connected to your average person than anything else. Wow. I think I just BARELY answered your question.
Bowlegs: Ha ha, we’ll let you off that one then! Can we talk about the music itself – the texture is both organic and synthetic; the organic sounds are sometimes grainy and sample-like, and the more traditional (say drum samples) sound dynamic and real. Is there clear intention at play in your choice of sound palette? What sources of sound are you attracted to using?
JH: There is an intentional effort to mix it up. The same way that fashion seems to be a free-for-all these days, we see music the same way. However, just pulling up an 80′s drum machine beat with an 80′s synth line and then wrapping all modern day on top of it, we’re trying to get a little more creative.
As for what type of sources…I can’t think of one sound we wouldn’t be into using. I’d make a sample out of anything. I’ve used old recordings, hippy drum circles, warped disco records, symphonic-level violin players…we love it all.
Bowlegs: And finally how do the songs develop as you write? Do you demo, or is the song begun and finished ‘in the box’?
JH: This album was definitely different from the last in that regard. The last one only had one that we all co-wrote. However, we definitely had a lot more collaboration on this one. Some ideas came from one of us just playing something before we start practice. I’d record it on my phone and then either Corrina, Toussaint or I would work with / tweak it over a few months and then bring it back to the band. However, there were also some ones that Corrina or I brought to one another with a loose vision, we’d tighten it up and then play for the others. I think its one of our strengths that we have different approaches to writing.
Tu Fawning continue touring in Europe until June, then you can catch them in the States through July/August.
-Interview by Julian Tardo-