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Brothers of Canada
    #4713578 - 09/26/05 12:45 PM (12 years, 7 months ago)


Interview: Boards of Canada
Story by Heiko Hoffmann

With their Warp albums Music Has the Right to Children and Geogaddi, Boards of Canada have become one of the most well-loved and critically revered contemporary artists without releasing singles, videos, or even going on tour. At the same time their sound of electronic psychedelia has been copied so often as to make the duo wonder what to do next. In this interview, which took place at the Royal Museum in Edinburgh, Scotland, Mike and Marcus Sandison speak for the first time about their backgrounds, obsessive reactions to Geogaddi, and their upcoming new album The Campfire Headphase.

Pitchfork: In the interviews you've given over the years and in the bios that your record label sends out it's never been mentioned when and how you got to know each other. So at what age did you guys meet?

Mike Sandison: Oh. Mmh, just very, very young, actually. We lived in the same place near Inverness in Scotland, a very small coastal town in the middle of nowhere. Our parents were in the same gang of friends.

Pitchfork: How old where you when you started making music?

Mike: We were about 6 or 7 years old when we started to learn instruments and play together. We actually started to record our own music when we were about 10. If your parents have tape recorders, pianos and stuff like lying around in the house you are just going to play around with them.

Pitchfork: Are you coming from musical families?

Mike: Yeah. And of course it's a big help when your parents play instruments...[pauses]. Actually can I just stop the recorder there for a second?

[Recorder is switched off. Mike asks Marcus if it's ok to talk about it. Marcus says yes. Mike checks if the recorder is off and explains that they are in fact brothers, but have concealed that as they didn't want to provoke comparisons to Orbital,the electronic duo of brothers Phil and Paul Hartnoll, when they started to release records in the mid-90s. Recorder is switched on again.]

Marcus Eoin: Obviously, certain people know us as real people. We haven't gone out of our way to conceal the fact we're brothers. It's not that big of a deal. If people don't ask about it then we don't bring it up. When we started releasing records we just wanted to avoid comparisons to Orbital...

Mike: Or even the Osmonds or the Jacksons [laughs].

Marcus: I never thought about it but Ween are brothers as well, aren't they?

Mike: No, they are not.

Marcus: I thought they were. Are they not?

Mike: No, they just pretend that they are. [Laughs]

Marcus: That's fantastic! [Laughs]

Mike: See, some people go out of their way to do things like that, while we are trying to avoid it.

Pitchfork: So who had to adopt a new family name for the sake of Boards of Canada?

Mike: We are both Sandisons. And Eoin is actually Marcus' middle name. So that's a pretty simple explanation.

Pitchfork: When did you live in Canada?

Mike: From 1979 to 1980. I was eight years old and Marcus was a bit younger. Our father worked in construction. He helped to build the Saddle Dome in Calgary. There was a lot of work at that time in Canada so that's why we moved there. We moved around quite a lot and then relocated to Scotland. We've been based around Edinburgh for the last 20 years, so this is home.

Pitchfork: Why did the educational TV films from the National Film Board of Canada, that you named yourself after, have such a big impact on you and your music if you'd only been exposed to them for a year?

Marcus: We saw them in both Canada and Scotland. The films were on television in the UK for years. For a long time we weren't sure what [the NFBC] would think about a band being named after them. Only recently did we find out that they had used our music on some of their films. So we took that as approval.

Mike: They have a newsletter and even ran an article on us a couple of years ago. So that's a strange feedback loop.

Marcus: Back then television was a really big deal for us because we were so bored. We weren't old enough to go to the cinema and we were in a town where there was absolutely bugger all to do. So we just went out and vandalized property. [Laughs] Or sneak in video nasties from the local video store. Or got our friends together to make films. We had our crappy early-80s bikes and went out with my dad's super-8 camera making films.

Pitchfork: And you really started recording music at the age of 10?

Marcus: Yeah but I wouldn't describe it as Boards of Canada music at that time.

Mike: Obviously we didn't have a multitrack recorder, but we had two tape recoders. What you could do is record something on one tape recorder, play it back across two feet of air and while it was playing accompany it with something else on the guitar, the piano, the drums, whatever. We would do this, swap the cassettes over and do it again and again until the tapes started getting so distorted that you couldn't do it any longer. So it was really crude old-school multitrack recording. But it was a good way for us to learn how to compose our own stuff.

Pitchfork: Was it always just the two of you playing together?

Mike: Well, I went to high school before Marcus did, and I formed a band there with friends.

Marcus: Initially we were in different bands in high school.

Mike: But when we came home [from school] we were recording music together. At one point in the mid-80s Marcus was in a really trashy heavy metal band and I wasn't into their music at all. So I invited him to play with my band. We then started to play around with synths. We were the only group at our high school to use synths.

Pitchfork: You only started sending demo tapes to record labels in the mid-90s. Why did take you such a long time to approach a label to release your music?

Mike: We just didn't think that we were good enough. We kept changing what we were doing. The problem with us as a band is that we have a schizophrenic approach to music, which still haunts us. We had a kind of battle when we worked on this album [The Campfire Headphase]. A lot of what we did for this record was really electronic stuff and a lot of what we did was really guitar-y music. I mean much more guitar-y than what ended up on the record. But this problem-- how to fuse these two things-- always plagued us.

Marcus: For me, there's an era of music in the early 90s when people started to combine electronic music with guitar music, forcing them to come together, and I always hated this music.

Pitchfork: Do you mean bands like EMF or Jesus Jones?

Marcus: Exactly! I wasn't going to name names but, yes. For me it didn't really fit together. It was really rubbish.

Mike: Because we've always listened to huge amounts of different music we experiment with lots of things. So you play guitar one minute and then something extremely electronic the next minute. But if you're gonna be a band you can't really afford to do that. You have to stick with something. Nobody's gonna want to listen to a record where there's an electronic tune and, let's say, a banjo tune right after. You have to stay with a flavor.

Marcus: Some of the tracks that we worked on are so extreme in one direction that we just can't use them. They don't fit the BoC thing at all. We can't release them under this project. We're already seeing from the reactions to this record that some people love it and are really happy that we've done something different. But there are some people having a problem with the guitars. So if we'd really gone full-on with that they would have just never believed that it's the same group. You would never know that it was us.

Pitchfork: Don't you underestimate your audiences openness for change?

Mike: Maybe. In the late-80s the three bands that were a huge influence on us were Front 242 to some extent, and-- to a large extent-- Nitzer Ebb and the Cocteau Twins. And they don't actually fit in the same category...

Marcus: ...but we would listen to them at the same time. Maybe it's a slightly gothic thing. You can imagine that there was already a seed planted there where that was going in two different directions. I actually rate bands like Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson who are a hybrid of electronic and guitar music. I think they are brilliant but the kind of people who are into that kind of thing now are not as broad-minded as maybe people were 20 years ago. Now there's a feeling that if you are one of these kids wearing black eyeliner who's into Marilyn Manson you will never be open-minded enough to listen to electronic music. I think there's a narrowing of taste rather than an opening up of taste.

Mike: Or maybe it just seems like that from our point of view here in Scotland.

Marcus: We've actually been in touch with the Cocteau Twins. Simon Raymonde of Cocteau Twins is a fan of our music. He's been trying for about four years to persuade us do some work on his label Bella Union but we are contractually not allowed to do that. Plus we don't even have the time. But it's a shame because we are such huge fans of theirs.

Pitchfork: It seems that on one hand you're afraid to alienate your audience but on the other you try to avoid being pigeonholed.

Mike: Yeah. The new record is probably the slowest record that we've done. And it's got guitars on it as well. This is something that we've done slightly deliberately. We knew that we had to break away from this thing. It bothered us that if you go into the big stores our stuff is always sitting in the dance music section. We never made a dance record in our entire career but our stuff stilll gets thrown in there. Our drive with this record is to try and get us out of the dance section and into the main section with all the others bands, like ABBA and A-Ha. We're just a band. Not an IDM band, not an electronic band, and not a dance band.

Pitchfork: But this will not happen. It's a losing battle.

Mike Eoin: Maybe not now, but in five or 10 years-- if shops are still selling CDs. [Laughs]

Pitchfork: One reason why you feel quite a lot of pressure, surely is the fact that it takes you such a long time to put a record out. Your last album, Geogaddi, was released three and a half years ago.

Mike: We've really experienced high expectation regarding the new record, partly because it took such a long time. And we think this works against us as well.

Pitchfork: So what took you so long? When Geogaddi came out you were saying that the new album was already half finished.

Mike: We both relocated and built new studios. That took us about a year. Then I became a father last year and that was another year lost. Personal things happen in everyone's lives and you find that it's very difficult to get on with work. That was part of the problem.

But it's correct that we had done a lot of work on this record by the time Geogaddi came out. We have this system of working where we never work in a linear fashion. We work parallel on lots and lots of music at once.

Marcus: Instead of starting on one song and working on it until its finished we have hundreds of songs on the go at one time and depending on our mood we try working on different ones. We both have pretty short attention spans.

Mike: We always have enough material for several other albums but what tends to happen is that our tastes move on and we kind of get fed up with what we're doing. We actually have a huge amount of music that people will probably never get to hear.

Marcus: It's just another manifestation of this schizophrenic problem, trying to do too many things at once.

Mike: We also started working on an acoustic version of Music Has the Right to Children years ago and it still exists.

Marcus: The reason why we haven't put something like this out is that it can seem like a retread of something you've already done.

Pitchfork: Is The Campfire Headphase a direct reaction for you on Geogaddi?

Mike: Yes, to some extent I think it is. The whole mood of this record is really uplifting and happy generally. It's really a case of saying: All the mystery and magic and all this kind of nonsense that built up around the last record got to a point where it was just silly. People were understanding things from our music that we didn't put in there and were saying there was an evil underrcurrent to everything. And we are not like that at all. It was a theme that we wanted to persue on that record but people have understood from that that we always put secret, dark, sinister, and satanic things in our music. And that became more important than the music itself.

Geogaddi was also the most abstract and surreal record we've done. A lot of the tracks don't really have much structure. Some songs are more soundscapes. With the new record we wanted to simplify the whole thing, [to make it] just about music.

Marcus: We realized that there are some people who would listen to our records but instead of listening to the music they would start looking for some hidden things immediately.

Mike: People will look for secret things now in this record even if there aren't any.

Pitchfork: More than any of your records before this one reminds me most of My Bloody Valentine's Loveless.

Mike: Well, that's a great compliment. Of course we are massive fans of My Bloody Valentine. Loveless is probably one of my top five favorite albums of all time. I think that, even if we don't sound like them, there's a connection in terms of the approach to the music. The idea of making music where it's really difficult to figure out which instruments you are listening to but you just don't care. At the same time we also tried to get away from the notion that our music is entirely contained within electronic boxes. It never has been and we are not big fans of laptop music. So this time we really wanted to try and break out. We're not trying to be an IDM band and we're not trying to be a Warp band or anything.

Pitchfork: But Warp Records have changed a lot too, if you think about bands like Max•mo Park, Broadcast etc.

Marcus: Definately. And I think it would have been harder for us to release a record with guitar sounds if that hadn't been the case.



Edited by ivi (09/26/05 03:06 PM)

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Registered: 05/24/04
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Re: Brothers of Canada [Re: ivi]
    #4714075 - 09/26/05 02:22 PM (12 years, 7 months ago)

nice find!

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Re: Brothers of Canada [Re: Vvellum]
    #4714195 - 09/26/05 02:51 PM (12 years, 7 months ago)

There is another new Boards of Canada interview in the October's issue of The Wire.

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Interview: Boards of Canada

The Bass Rock is barely visible in the late summer heat-mist, lying about three miles off the deserted coast near North Berwick. The crag rises 350 feet out of the turquoise sea, and faintly visible against its sheer cliff sides is a white lighthouse. A millennium and a half before the light was set on the rock at the beginning of the last century, a Lindisfarne monk, St Baldred of Bass, lived a hermit's existence alone on the island, shuttered in a rain-lashed cell to confront alone his god and, doubtless, his demons too. Today gannets are the island's sole visitors, as well as the occasional tourist boats ploughing through the surf to visit the martyr's chapel.

As I crunch along the Ravensheugh Sands with Boards Of Canada's Mike Sandison and Marcus Eoin, the guano-stained Rock takes on a mythical hue: the distance and the sea mist cause it almost to melt into thin air, the wraith of a giant white molar on the horizon. There's a Moby-Dick quality to it - you could spend a lifetime staring at it but it would remain eternally out of reach.

"When I was a kid, about five or six years old," Mike Sandison is saying, "a relative of mine had one of those tacky ceramic owls on their mantelpiece, and it had multifaceted diamante eyes. I was totally obsessed with these sparkly glass eyes, for ages. I felt like looking into them was like looking sideways through everything, right through time. That's what we're trying to do with our music."

When you think about Boards Of Canada, the idea of hermits is never too far away. For the best part of a decade and a half now they have dwelt in what appears to be - to a London/urban-centric media, anyway - an isolated wilderness in Scotland (in fact, they've always lived within a half-hour's drive of the capital city Edinburgh, not in the Highlands, as is often reported). Their interviews have invariably been conducted by email. Since their wistful, queasily nostalgia-soaked electronic music began to appear in the mid-90s, they have only done a handful of face to face interviews, none of those on home turf. Careful managers of their own public image, even today their homes and studio are out of bounds, but they do willingly and generously drive us all over the stretch of coast and countryside that's close to the place they call home. Until recently they lived in the Pentland Hills, south west of Edinburgh; without much fanfare they have moved eastwards since then, into the flatter terrain of East Lothian. "We're not far away from where we were before," explains Sandison, "we relocated, but we're trying to let that slip by without anyone knowing about it, because we felt that if we made a big deal of it, it would start that whole thing again of the geography being more important than :he music."

"I always got this feeling that people were saying, because they were surrounded by the Pentland Hills, :his is why their music sounds this way'," sighs Eoin. "And I don't really like that, because it's almost ike saying, 'you're just like anyone else, and it's ust because you happen to be there'. That's unfair -it's not giving you credit for actually just doing music he way you want it to be."

For better or worse, the Boards' 'secrecy' has endowed them with enigmatic status; the relative media silence has opened a space in which fans can speculate, mythmake, invent and interpret to their hearts' content - much of which happens in chatrooms and message boards, thankfully well out of harm's way. But the pair certainly monitor these discussions and while they don't take part in them, they do seem somewhat confounded by the kind of rumours that have got out. As Eoin says, "If there's no apparent facts or information about you, then what happens is stuff just floods in to fill that gap, and very often it's basically a flood of bullshit that fills in your silhouette. And we've really suffered from that."

It's not as if these two aren't well travelled. Sandison once lived in London for a couple of years; they've lived in Edinburgh itself and, when they decide to take a break from their recording (and each other) to spend time with their partners, they're off travelling on the other side of the world - Sandison mentions recent trips to France, Australia and New Zealand (where he's thinking of moving), while Eoin's considering a new life in Hong Kong with his Chinese girlfriend. Those are decisions still to be made, as their current live/work set-up is working well for them. "This whole project has come about with us living on the outskirts of Edinburgh," he says, "and for the last two decades we've been working on it from here, and we've had no reason to want to relocate to the city or to the south or anything, it's as simple as that. In fact, we actually find to some extent this so-called hermetic bubble that we live in is actually making it a lot easier for us to do our thing and not feel any urge to make it DJ friendly, or make it work for a certain social or club environment."

Meeting these two objects of so much speculation, it's refreshing to discover they're not the dysfunctional electronic droids you might expect. They're actually a deal more open, articulate and opinionated than many other musicians of their generation, and don't appear terribly secretive. A kung fu manual is prominently stuffed in the back seat pocket of Eoin's car, and Sandison rabbits away as we motor through the Scottish countryside, eulogising about being a parent and at one point asking his wife to text him a photo of his baby daughter at the dinner table so that he can show us.

They've broken cover to talk about The Campfire Headphase, the latest in their very occasional series of records, and only their third album since Music Has The Right To Children (1998) and Geogaddi (2002). As they're at pains to point out, the long gaps between releases aren't because they're lazy or aloof, it's because of the perfectionism of their craft. Six months of 2005 alone were spent on post-producing the album to get the idea-germs into a state they call finished. "There are textures in what we try to do," explains Eoin, "which borrow from certain sounds or eras - even in visual things that we do as well, artwork - to trigger something, almost a cascade. It's like a memory that someone has - even though it's artificial, they never even had the memory; it's just you're ageing a song. And then people feel, is that something familiar I knew from years ago?"

There's always been a warm, woody hue to BOC's music, but the dominant flavour has been synthesized On Campfire, guitars have taken over: steel strings. rippling chords and plucked notes dappled with rev-; "Chromakey Dreamcoat" ends with a blend of hillbilly steel and keyboard swirls not unlike the original BBC Hitch-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy theme - a typical!. BOC reference to the organic science fiction of the 1970s they love so much. The duo's clunkily satisfying rhythms - often played on a kit by Sandison - and analogue drum machines still govern the downtempo flow, but it's geared down to a pace Sandison I describes as "that 70s truckstop diner feel". "Satellite Anthem Icarus" is especially gorgeous, a scudding oceanic cruise, riding on the sound of waves crashing on a beach, a woman's muffled voice and electronic tropical peeps.

"On this album it's interesting," says Sandison, "because we are really overtly playing riffs on guitars. and although we've aged it and made it more like it's been recorded 25 years ago or something, with each track that we've used the guitars on, we've put things in it which are impossible on a 1970s record. Sometimes we'll construct an entire song out of samples that we'll make, so we'll maybe take instruments and play parts or play notes and we'll make entire spans of notes out of sounds we really like, and then play them in ways that the original instrument couldn't have played. You could take a span of lots of notes on the guitar, and then you would play chords on that guitar by hitting them all at once, in a way that a real guitar could never be played. And then of course we would do a lot of other things to the guitar to really tweak it and make it sound very, very gnarly and damaged."

The two of them spend most of their time together doing the spadework that yields the raw produce for their music, creating sounds with what they describe as a collection of 200 instruments - not only synths, but flutes, stringed instruments, guitars, exotic percussion - sampling them, twisting them like sugar candy, and the thing that makes them Boards Of Canada pieces more than anything else: artificially ageing them. The songwriting is one thing, but the process of transforming the melodic ideas into the finished product is what takes time. Tunes can wait around several years in a demo state before undergoing the duo's deliberate degradation technique.

"One thing we tried to do," pursues Eoin, "and we're trying to do more of, is a sense that you're hearing a piece of music that's come through the wringer a bit -it's definitely not coming literally. It's not just a guy standing in front of you with the latest keyboard workstation. There's a sense that you're listening to a tune, but how many times has that been copied from tape to tape to tape... by the time it's reached you it's crumbled, it's turned into powder.

"You hear about monks in the Middle Ages using a pin to create a Bible or a piece of art, and they'll do it for 40 years in the dark underneath a monastery," he continues, "and they'll be blind by the time they've finished. And some people really appreciate art like that, because there's something really tragic about it. It's almost like it's more beautiful than any other art, because instead of it being someone comfortably painting something in a day, there's something absolutely tragic and destroyed about it. So I always think you can still go further up the rung from 'beautiful music', and that's beautiful music that seems to come out of some tragedy or brokenness. It becomes even more beautiful, the shards of the sound coming through are even more vibrant and affecting."

From the start, circumstances forced them to invent their own universe. Both born around 1970, they've been friends since they were toddlers, when their parents relocated to Canada to take up jobs in the construction industry. There, they were exposed to public education films on nature, science and the Earth, often narrated by actor Leslie Nielsen, made by the National Film Board of Canada. When they were around 13 years of age and living back in a bleak harbour town in the north of Scotland, they began "bullying" their friends into making experimental films with a Super-8 camera. "We'd say, 'This is what you're going to do, because the other options are playing the Space Invaders machine down at the chip shop or breaking windows on phone boxes'," Sandison says. To fit their pocket money budgets, the films involved time lapse, stop motion and 'sound to light' techniques. "We'd seen a lot of Norman McLaren animations while growing up," explains Eoin. At the same time Sandison, later joined by Eoin, began making music in various indie rock configurations. From the early 90s, university studies and unrewarding jobs were interleaved with more esoteric activities in the company of a large group of friends, artists, photographers, graphic designers and musicians, collectively known as Hexagon Sun. Their parties outgrew their homes in the Pentland Hills, spilling out into the woods. "It totally enhanced the experience," recalls Eoin. "Once you take it to an isolated, outdoor location, away from organisation, there's a sense of freedom that kicks in. It's sexier and less inhibited than an indoor event. You can have 50 or 100 people hanging out around fires, some rare music echoing around... the sound of two melodies clashing over one another, or maybe a melody to your left but a voice talking to your right, off through the trees, Doppler-shifting and filtering because of the wind or the random shapes around you. It creates a giddy, surreal sound that doesn't normally exist on records." In these unique outdoor communions, a large part of Boards Of Canada's sound aesthetic was forged.

In 1996, after privately circulating cassette compilations of tracks they had been recording, Sandison and Eoin sent tapes to other labels including Skam in Manchester. Autechre's Sean Booth picked up on it immediately, and Skam released several BOC tracks before Warp swung into action and issued Music Has The Right To Children in 1998, with the distinctive treated cover image of a family Polaroid holiday snapshot with all the faces wiped blank. Geogaddi, appearing four years later, was decked with hexagonal, kaleidoscopic prisms that became something of a calling card. "I guess you could get a better idea of what these things symbolise by reading [Aldous Huxley's] The Doors Of Perception," says Eoin when I ask him about the significance of those shapes. "Also, I've always had an interest in the yamabushi of ancient Japan, the 'mountain men'. They used symbols as a way of having a willpower that would always outlive any challenge. They used repetitive hand symbols or drawn characters to create a neutral place they could visit mentally whenever they faced hardship. For us, Turquoise Hexagon Sun always returns us to a zone where we can throw off the baggage and begin again."

Somewhere up in the Highlands, they tell me, lies a valley that's the last remaining site in the UK where radio signals, microwaves and mobile phone signals can't reach. An Eden such as this, free of the harmful effects of technology and sheltered from penetration by foreign chatter, sounds like the kind of place Board Of Canada's music could happily live. A place where you might be able to start to observe the world directly, anew, unmediated by outside influence. In such places you can build your ark, rescue yourself from being dragged along with the flood. Most of the music they love and admire is made by folk who have built their own bubble, where the music lives in its own epoch, its own specially crafted box. The "Victorian fairy lights" and "looking-glass world" of fellow Scots The Cocteau Twins are one; Devo, inventors of their own theatrical universe and whose early songs they admire because they sound like advertising jingles for washing powder, are another. They are currently enthusing about William Basinski's Disintegration Loops ("Funnily enough, when we first heard that, we thought, 'We've got tapes like that ourselves'") and Stevie Wonder's rapturous mid-70s funk - "that bit in "Living For The City" where there's the descending chords, and it's all transposing all the way down, and it's just going chromatically all down the scale... I recognise something there where it feels like he's trying to translate into music something that is otherworldly, that's not about the mundane," explains Sandison.

"There's usually a visual element in the tracks we write," he continues, "and it probably comes from an obsession with film and TV. When you're a kid, a three second long animation with rainbows morphing into A-Bomb blasts can be massively affecting and influential I think you see these things more vividly when you're younger, but as an adult your brain starts to filter out things it considers irrelevant background noise. The downside is that you become desensitised to a lot of things and that leads you to not really feel much at all.

Boards Of Canada's music is awash with sadness at the loss of the child's vivid perception. It struggles constantly to regain that enhanced sensation of encountering the world afresh, while planting a nostalgic for the sounds and images of the particular time in which they grew up. They are addressing their own specific generation - you might call them the analogue-to-dig its transfer generation - whose formative years straddled huge changes in geopolitics (the Cold War and its nuclear threat which hung over 80s teens had evaporate by the time they left college), domestic and computer technology (typing in the 80s became word processing in the 90s), and the nature and role of the media. Hence their music's slathering with textural referents, deliberate sonic aides memoires that are almost recognisable but remain just out of memory's reach.

"We could only exist in the short pocket of time when music has made the transition from analogue to digital," agrees Sandison. "There's this little moment where there's enough nostalgia attached to the former recording media and the faults that it had, that certain people will get it, and understand what we're doing. If there's a sadness in the way we use memory," he goes on, "it's because the time you're focusing on has gone forever. I guess it's a theme we play on a lot, that bittersweet thing where you face up to the fact that certain chapters of your life are just Polaroids now."

The faded turquoise and yellow packaging of The Campfire Headphase contains a gallery of Polaroid ; photos they've collected over the years, family snapshots digitally mildewed and rotted with similar artificial ageing techniques they use for their music. The idea, they tell me, is to create the feeling that you've just found all these pictures in someone else's old house and that the people shown in the pictures are all dead. As an aural analogy, they describe the degrading process on their sounds as introducing a "toxic, poisonous" element. Sandison articulates the fascination with the imperfect: "Even when we sound like we're being conventional, there's always something in it which is kind of dark, that's doing that bittersweet thing. Sometimes we deliberately construct songs to be pretty conventional sounding, and then we abuse them, we throw something in that's kind of a spike.

"If you ever see these American makeover programmes where they get ordinary looking people and they give them these regulation whiter-than-white teeth and veneers and all that, quite often I find the finished product really sinister, because they've got these really symmetrical faces with perfect teeth and everything, make-up and the hair. If you actually compare the before-and-after pictures, the person you could imagine being friends with is the one with squint teeth and everything and the gnarly face. And it's the same sort of thing with music and other art. If there's something a bit rough about it, it feels more personal to you, like something that belonged to you on a cassette tape that you've been cherishing for years, rather than something digital and perfect and straight. The drop-outs, the flutter on the tape and everything, you get used to where it happens."

Eoin: "I think it's a reaction to mundanity. Britain, for example, is a safe place to live, and a lot of people in the rest of the world come here to live because it's better than where they are, the grass is greener here than it is there. But when you've lived here for a long time, you can start to feel a crushing mundanity, you need strange things to bring you out of it, otherwise you start feeling like a corpse."

Sandison elaborates, "I think we try to make music that's more like normal music that's heard through a damaged mind, so you're hearing it diagonally..."

Boards Of Canada's eccentric orbits, their unstable tones and disorientating sonic additives are all carefully calculated effects. In conversation they'll often talk about chords coming in at weird angles and diagonals, zapping melodic expectations. As one of Geogaddi's song titles reminds us, "The Devil Is In The Details": their mastery of numbers and geometry has its own part to play in this Confucian confusion.

"You can use rules or set theory to dictate timings and note intervals," expands Sandison about their composition strategies. "For instance, you can imagine your melody to run vertically instead of horizontally, so that you're thinking of it as a vertical spiral, running on the spot. There's a thing you can calculate for plants called divergence, which is a ratio of complete turns of spiral leaf positions relative to the number of leaves in that spiral. In plants, this usually gives a Fibonacci number, which is pretty uncanny, but it's basically a natural law that's trying to create optimum distribution of leaf positions, to stop leaves from obscuring each other in sunlight. You can apply a similar idea to a vertical spiral of music, to calculate optimal temporal event positions in a pattern or texture. It doesn't always make for easy listening though," he adds, laughing.

Time to puncture a few myths about Boards Of Canada "The kind of thing that gets up my nose is when people describe us as 'approaching New Age' or something like that," moans Sandison. "To me that's completely missing the point. If we do something that remotely sounds a bit like that, it's because we're actually doing it deliberately, we're doing it almost as a pisstake."

Google Boards Of Canada and you'll soon find fans with plenty of time on their hands, identifying all manner of psychedelic Easter eggs in the music: reversed samples and tapes, aural palindromes (sentences like "I've been gone about a week" that sound the same when played forwards or in reverse), buried phrases that hint at paganism ("You Could Feel The Sky" contains the words "a god with hooves"). Titles like "Music Is Math", "A Is To B As B Is To C", and "The Smallest Weird Number" (the number 70, which they adopted for the name of their own label/ production company, Music70) imply numerological sorcery; musical structures arranged, tuned and sequenced at root level according to mathematical equations such as the Fibonacci sequence and Golden Ratio. Someone's even found that the total playing time of Geogaddi is 66:06, and its total hard drive space when ripped to MP3 is 666 megabytes, etc. All of which leads to speculation that they are involved in some kind of cultish activity - a belief that gathered pace with the release of their 2000 EP In A Beautiful Place Out In The Country, which contained overt references to David Koresh's Branch Davidian community and its annihilation by the US military in 1993 during the Waco siege.

"Not in the slightest," counters Sandison when I ask him for a definitive answer on their 'cult' status. "We're just purely coming at what we do from the angle of being interested in subjects. You get a lot of painters or film directors who are complete atheists who'll make films all about religion, or Christianity, not because they're obsessed with the subject or they're actually evangelists, but just purely because it's something they're interested in for that project. It's exactly the same with us - we'll hit on some of these things, but at the end of the day we're just totally ordinary people that just happen to be making music."

And why the particular focus on Waco? "We take a great interest in the whole spectrum of everything, religions and cults, anything connected to that," says Eoin. "Because they are a break from the norm. So when you see something like that, a group of people doing their own thing, going away and living together like that... it's the fascination with that, and a sense of injustice..."

"And the outrage at what happened," interjects Sandison.

"I'm not a religious person," Eoin continues, "but what I felt seeing what happened there was a sense of outrage - they're devoutly religious people, but what happened to them - were they just singled out because of this, and attacked? The victor always writes history, and the only history we know of David Koresh and those people is what's been written about by reference to things like what the FBI were investigating afterwards."

"Which was why," Sandison swings back to the record in hand, "we thought we'd make a record that on the surface feels really sweet and very spacious and it'll be titled In A Beautiful Place Out In The Country, but what were these people doing in a beautiful place out in the country? They were getting shot and burned. [Laughs] It's a typical thing that we would do..."

Eoin: "Even when you go away and have that existence, something still chases you there, still follows you home. And that's the impression I get off that story."

With every retreat from the world comes the need to protect and survive. Eoin once described a complicated solar alarm system he had installed in his house. Neighbourhood watch scheme broken down, has it? "No, it's just paranoia," he laughs. "No, when you've got things like master tapes going back to 1984, and irreplaceable musical equipment, honestly, you're gonna be paranoid. It's not really to do with past experiences, it's a kind of precautionary attitude, a Red Dawn attitude..."

And so we take our leave of these hermits, as they sit and wait for someone to put knobs back on digital TVs to change the colour and contrast (newer technologies not necessarily being better than old); leave them to their fervent belief that they can inoculate their music with the mould of the past, warding off the viral spread of mediocrity.

"We're not even remotely religious people," repeats Sandison, "but I understand what that is about when you're trying to channel into something that's more about the cogs behind the workings of the universe, and it feels like sometimes everything you're looking at is a simulation that's based on a much more geometric background. And a lot of the time, this machine that we are seeing, the world as it is, is so smooth and predictable, that even art has become really predictable. It's all following rules and patterns that have already been set by somebody who programmed it. But if you really stand back and look away from it, the potential's there for art and music to go into absolutely bizarre territories where everything is utterly fresh and weird and new. The challenge is to imagine: how about just stop where we are, and let's just for a minute try and backtrack a way up here, and imagine what would have happened if, in 1982, music had taken this other branch on this side, and where would it be now, and what would it be sounding like now?" ? The Campfire Headphase is released this month on Warp.


Edited by ivi (10/26/05 06:16 PM)

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Re: Brothers of Canada [Re: Vvellum]
    #4714201 - 09/26/05 02:52 PM (12 years, 7 months ago)

Pitchfork has very good interviews pretty often.

Except that one time they essentially interviewed the Arcade Fire and infered that they (Pitchfork) were single-handedly responsible for ARcade Fire's fame.

Acid doesn't give you truths; it builds machines that push the envelope of perception. Whatever revelations came to me then have dissolved like skywriting. All I really know is that those few years saddled me with a faith in the redemptive potential of the imagination which, however flat, stale and unprofitable the world seems to me now, I cannot for the life of me shake.

-Erik Davis

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Re: Brothers of Canada [Re: ivi]
    #4714224 - 09/26/05 02:55 PM (12 years, 7 months ago)

thank you thank you

:sun: :heart: :sun:


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Re: Brothers of Canada [Re: OneMoreRobot3021]
    #4714396 - 09/26/05 03:23 PM (12 years, 7 months ago)


OneMoreRobot3021 said:
Pitchfork has very good interviews pretty often.

Except that one time they essentially interviewed the Arcade Fire and infered that they (Pitchfork) were single-handedly responsible for ARcade Fire's fame.

yeah that was ridiculous!

Actually if you read the very bottom, the interviewer works for Groove Magazine, not Pitchfork.

that might explain it.

it's like learning about Luke and Leia all over again...

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Edited by Blastrid (09/27/05 03:58 AM)

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Re: Brothers of Canada [Re: ivi]
    #4815509 - 10/17/05 12:07 PM (12 years, 7 months ago)

Well, it's full moon, and guess what has just been released

Here's an interview from Metro Life:


Splendid Isolation

Tune in to the other-worldly sound of Boards of Canada

Musicians often boast they're removed from the hub and froth of media-
piloted trends. Yet few do so with as much conviction as Scots duo
Boards Of Canada. Located in the rural Scottish Highlands, brothers
Mike Sandison and Marcus Eoin (they are both called Sandison but Marcus uses his middle name) firmly believe that separation from civilisation is mandatory. 'We go into a "studio lockdown",' explains Marcus, 'where the only umbilical cord we have to current culture is satellite TV or the internet. It's something that allows us to switch off for long periods and create an alternative universe where our music exists.'

The ends fully justify the means. Since breaking through in 1998 with
their landmark full length debut, Music Has the Right To Children,
Boards Of Canada have taken analogue electronica on a solar expedition. Sparse yet eerily expansive signatures sound cut loose from Earth's gravity, yet the effect is altogether more human and emotional than that description might suggest.

After 2002's dense and symmetrical samples on Geogaddi, new album The
Campfire Headphase is a deliberate return to the weird evocations of
grainy Super-8s and Sesame Street heard on MHTRTC. Even the sleeve
looks similar. 'Yeah, exactly,' says Mike 'we've come full circle. With Geogaddi it went pretty surreal and dark, and this record is like coming back into the fresh air again.' Yet TCH isn't the sound of the duo standing thematically or musically still. 'In itself, the new album has a theme,' continues Mike. 'It's based on one man's head trip, a kind of vintage American road trip that's basically just a hallucination. We were going for that kind of dry, laid-back, wide-open sound.'

The American references are appropriate. As children, the brothers
obsessed over American TV programmes such as the Six Million Doallar
Man and dystopian sci-fi films The Andromeda Strain, Logan's Run and
Silent Running. Such wonky soundtracks helped map out the Boards'
wobbly, fluttering sound.

Yet the guitars are only incedental - it's still the Boards'
unmistakable brand of analogue psychedelia and it still sounds
streteched and warped, magical and other-worldly. How do they do it? 'We just don't like clean sounds,' says Mike. 'We've always loved
making electronic music that doesn't sound typically perfect. I've
always felt that recorded music seems to have something special when
it's worn and damaged.'

In 2005, no one comes close to replicating or bettering the Boards'
imperfect purity. Electronica as a genre may have ceased to be exciting or beguiling years ago, but can TCH kick-start a fresh reappraisal? Don't expect any answers from Mike and Marcus. 'We avoid reading all reviews,' says Mike firmly, 'so we don't know what the world thinks of our music anyway.' Somehow, you kind of believe him.

Brothers' gonna work it out...

On the new album:

Mike: 'We'd been writing throughout 2003 but the serious work on the
new record began mid-2004. We'd both been travelling quite a bit and
I'd been sketching tracks out in New Zealand where I was living for a
while. We wanted to make a really catchy, spaced-out record.'

On Electronica:

Mike: 'We're not huge fans of electronica specifically. The technology
has made it so easy for anyone to get into producing music, especially
electronic music, that the whole electronica scene has been diluted.
It's allowing a lot of mediocre music to be released.'

On maths:

Marcus:'It's a whole world of amazing patterns and coincidences. The
more you apply maths to the world as we perceive it, the more
fascinating it gets. And it has connections with the way the world is
revealed when you strip half your head away with psychedelics.'

On being 'telepathic':

Mike: 'We're pretty much both on the same wavelength all the time. We
usually don't even have to use complete sentences to convey ideas to
each other. We have a kind of shorthand musical language that would
sound like total gobbledygook to anyone else.'


Edited by ivi (10/26/05 06:24 PM)

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Re: Brothers of Canada [Re: ivi]
    #4816453 - 10/17/05 04:39 PM (12 years, 7 months ago)

+5 for you


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Re: Brothers of Canada [Re: Blastrid]
    #4817349 - 10/17/05 08:08 PM (12 years, 7 months ago)

I love this part:

"If you ever see these American makeover programmes where they get ordinary looking people and they give them these regulation whiter-than-white teeth and veneers and all that, quite often I find the finished product really sinister, because they've got these really symmetrical faces with perfect teeth and everything, make-up and the hair. If you actually compare the before-and-after pictures, the person you could imagine being friends with is the one with squint teeth and everything and the gnarly face. And it's the same sort of thing with music and other art. If there's something a bit rough about it, it feels more personal to you, like something that belonged to you on a cassette tape that you've been cherishing for years, rather than something digital and perfect and straight. The drop-outs, the flutter on the tape and everything, you get used to where it happens."

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Re: Brothers of Canada [Re: dr0mni]
    #4817373 - 10/17/05 08:12 PM (12 years, 7 months ago)


dr0mni said:
I love this part:

"If you ever see these American makeover programmes where they get ordinary looking people and they give them these regulation whiter-than-white teeth and veneers and all that, quite often I find the finished product really sinister, because they've got these really symmetrical faces with perfect teeth and everything, make-up and the hair. If you actually compare the before-and-after pictures, the person you could imagine being friends with is the one with squint teeth and everything and the gnarly face. And it's the same sort of thing with music and other art. If there's something a bit rough about it, it feels more personal to you, like something that belonged to you on a cassette tape that you've been cherishing for years, rather than something digital and perfect and straight. The drop-outs, the flutter on the tape and everything, you get used to where it happens."

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Re: Brothers of Canada [Re: Blastrid]
    #4850396 - 10/25/05 03:35 PM (12 years, 6 months ago)

One from the French magazine Trax.

Page 1
Page 2
Page 3
Page 4
Page 5
Page 6


Edited by ivi (10/26/05 06:26 PM)

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Re: Brothers of Canada [Re: ivi]
    #4850680 - 10/25/05 04:47 PM (12 years, 6 months ago)

Here's one from Earplug:


Interview: Boards of Canada

Groove magazine's Heiko Hoffmann speaks to Scottish electronic duo Boards of Canada, aka Michael Sandison and Marcus Eoin, about how they stirred up the ashes of their own influence to create their new album, The Campfire Headphase.

EP: On your last album, Geogaddi, you included some hidden messages to test your audience. Do you consider that experiment successful?

MS: It was too successful! We thought that putting these secret things in would be an interesting thing that one or two people would stumble on in listening to the record. We didn't realize that we would end up creating a cult.

EP: You didn't realize that there was this thing called the Internet.

MS: Exactly (laughs). I think if the Internet hadn't existed, it probably would've been fine, because people would have mostly just listened to the music, and the odd person would have mentioned the secret bits maybe in an article. But because of the Internet, these things just spread. Part of it, for us, was done as an experiment, but part of it was just done as a kind of in-joke. It was just the two of us having fun. Even some of the sinister things were just done for fun or for textural reasons. Some things, like voices that if you reverse them you can hear such and such, are a nod to all the bands in the '70s that were doing this kind of thing. And that's all there was.

ME: For example, the decision to make the record 66.6 minutes long was made right at the last minute. We wanted to insert some silence at the end of the album so that there would be a gap before the CD would start again. When we were discussing the length of the silence [Warp Records owner] Steve Beckett actually suggested to take it to a total 66 minutes 6 seconds, because then everyone would think it's the devil who made the album. And we just laughed.

MS: People found things in the record that aren't actually in it. I've seen people talking about some of the vocal lines in the album being palindromic ? you know, if you play it forward, it says exactly the same thing backwards. I think we did this in one case, but some people claim that there are many more. Then there are people who said, if you slow down this song, after two-and-a-half minutes you hear a little sound that sounds like a cymbal, but if you slow it right down and reverse it, it actually turns out to be a child screaming. But that's just a cymbal.

EP: On The Campfire Headphase, you avoided the use of your trademark children's voices.

ME: That was a deliberate thing. We got fed up with people saying that we're a formulaic band that you could kind of describe in a couple of sentences.

MS: There were people who thought that that's what our sound is: a synthesizer and children?s voices. That's not really fair. We've also seen a lot of people cropping up imitating the sound that we were doing before, and the imitation was always quite bad.

ME: It's flattering when people say that they've been influenced by what we've done, but at the same time I hear tracks that people are doing right now who are doing the things that we did eight years ago. You get a hip-hop rhythm, a mono synth, and a child's voice saying something. At the time we were doing this, no one had done it, and it can leave you quite uncomfortable hearing this now. On this record, we wanted to prove to people that we are capable of more than just that.

MS: I think it can become really dangerous for a band if you don't have a certain level of self-consciousness about these things. You always have to stay a few steps in front of your audience. We always have people putting fakes on the Internet before a new record is released, and the fakes are always really electronic with little kids' voices and things like that. Probably next time around all the fakes will include wobbly guitars like the ones we use on the new album (laughs).

ME: Meanwhile, we'll come out with a very electronic record.



Edited by ivi (10/25/05 05:12 PM)

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Re: Brothers of Canada [Re: ivi]
    #4850726 - 10/25/05 05:02 PM (12 years, 6 months ago)
Log in to view attachment

And here is one from the Dutch magazine OOR. Just download the attached PDF file, and, if you don't understand Dutch, here is an approximate translation by some dude from the BoC Yahoo group:


Oor: Interview with Boards of Canada

Human music is not unapproachable, not being correct pulse, but a
scrap in the throat, a light hasitation, a tear. We remind our
carefree youth, rather then that we dream of a life between robots.

We want to prove that we are ordinary blokes and no magician which
bring man sacrifices on a mount top

Mike: if you stay away from the media for a long time, people will
fill up automatically the breaches in your tale.

Mike : The biggest misunderstanding is our humor. A lot of people
don't see the irony of it. They take it to litteral. We are just
interessted (says almost with excusing there selfs) in old cultures
religious rattans, scientific questions, everything what deviates
from the standard. That's it!! don't seek anyting more about it.

Actualy we never wanted to make idm, in fact we aren't really
interested in dancemusic. We just took all kinds of instruments when
we were kids and made a lot of noise with it. We are no technokids.

About the campfire headphase:

the basis is a fantasy mind trip, sits itself somewhere in a camp in
the bunch, spaced out around the campfire. It is dark, you are
alone, you close your eyes and you fantasise concerning the america
of the 18th century. you lose you time notion. Hours become days,
weeks. There event strange solicits, unexplainable things, jumps in
the time, transformations, a little surrealistic without you
experience it as such.

Marcus: Complete chaos, a world without logic, that kind of idea. Do
you know the movie : Zabriskie point? For me this album is the same
environment, It is a lunatic movie. there happened of everything
what is not logical, you try discover a line, find a declaration,
but at the end of the movie you still don't know what now has in
fact happened.

Mike: The central question is: How much of these experiences are
real? have they really taken place? how much executed itself in a
hallucination? he who sometimes had a psyhedelic experience , knows
that you aren't able to tell litteral what has happened, it changes
every moment

At the end of a good trip = the campfire headphase, there will be a
downer, the last 3 tracks are going very deep. Marcus: as a result,
it continues longer (it will stay longer with you, (dont know how to
translate acurate)

Mike: I never could make anything that is complete optimistic.

Mike: Farewell fire is Marcus on keyboards, nothing more, he made it
in one night session.
They wont say for whom they made that track, though it could only be
for someone who past away .

The singing guitar in chromakey dreamcoat has been recorded on the
beach with the rottenest taperecorder marcus could find, he also has
digital recorders though he is using those seldom.

Never call their music nostalgic, Marcus hates it, also retro is
word he doesn't like.
Marcus : we referring to something from the past, something
tragically or something beautiful that has lost has gone. We try to
take that back, but we wont stop there, we try to bring it "further"
to imagine how it would become if it still existed. We don't copy
the past, we rewrite it. We go back to a certain moment in time and
place and take an alternative road. We say to each other : make it
1978 and then take it somewhere.

Mike admires jeroen bosch (1450-1516) a deeply religious painter,
in antagonism of contemporaries, the work of Bosch was about : fear,
abomination,calamity emergency. Mike: His work was about weird,
spooky elements, elements where no declarations for were it were
fantasy's, his work was surrealistic though surrealism didn't exist
at that time.
There are elements in his work that shouldn't be there,
inconsistencies. This elements make the work of bosch so strong and

A parallel to music has the right to children, on what naieve child
voices clash with atonal sounds, chromocoloured beats and dissonant
melodies. Those voices from children don't belong there in such dark
music, they make you feel upset in away. You don't know why they are
there, but they just are around. They suggest innocence but also
danger. You just don't know but it just seize you.

Their life aim is the desire to their youth, the lost youth, the
time that life was still simple en luck was very ordinary. That's
what they are searching for, those warmth those innocence. The
feeling that every adolescent slowly looses.

Mike: I have a long history of depressions, when im depressed I
always seek for consolation in my childhood. That sadness,
melancholy is always around In our music.

Mike about geogaddi: It was a project, its its own thing, a
claustrophobic trip through a world full of paranoia and darkness. A
lot of people confuse this album with humanity, we are no
(cursethinkers??don't know of an accurate word, thinking about it)

Mike continues: Don't forget that we were in the studio when 9/11
happened, the last 5 months of geogaddi were at the same time with
the aftermath of 9/11. It was a time of fear, feel liked we got back
to the cold war. Suddently I felt this fear again, the fear of the
nuclear bomb I had as a child. I think everyone of our generation
knows that feeling. We couldn't escape of that fear, it influenced
our conscience. The tone was getting more oppressed. The atmosphere
the samples everything has to do with it. Moreover I was having a
very difficult time for myself, it was a bad year

Now 4 years later:
Marcus takes over the conversation : The threat of 9/11 seems to be
permanent now, the world seems to be changed permanent, permanent
unsafe. More chaos en darkness and paranoia. When you experience
that day in day out, you will eventually ask yourself: How can we
escape from this? How can we forget reality?

Mike: Instead of going with this flow of psychosis, you can search
for an evasion. (Coincidence or not in this period mike listened a
lot to the first record of "the polyphonic spree") I thought I
wanted to make something hopeful, optimistic.

And so arised the idea for the campfire headphase : they would go
back to the time when there music was "simple" escapism, back to

Twoism is probably our least political album we made. Its music to
dream with, even if your life isn't great and you hate your job,
when you listen to twoism and carry along with the melodies you will
forget your misery. We tried to create this again with TCH : an
airbubble where you can rise and fly away, away from everything.

TCH hasn't got a secret agenda, the only thing it is saying ; Fuck
all this stuff, turn of the news, get away from your shitty job, get
out of town and take some time to think back about your memories,
think about happier periods. Everyone has a great year in his mind,
the best summer of his life. That's our goal: We offer you a window
to the best summer in your life.

Marcus: see the album as an appliance, as a timemachine, a private
timemachine. Our music doesn't work in public spaces, she will speak
to one person at a time. Our music is music to listen alone, music
to crawl away, we offer you a safe place.
Mike: A place to go.

Mike: Music is for me an escape from gap, when im in a clothing
shop, I think very soon: fucking hell, I could possible strike
someone, I have to get as quick as I can get away from here, back to
my world of fantasy.

About orbital:

On all orbital records there was written: By hartnoll & hartnoll. We
didn't like that really, we wanted to go anonymous through life and
no stories about the musical family Sandison.

We have 2 brothers, they are also making music, one lives in
Australia and the other in London.

They have plans for soloprojects, they are negotiating about a
soundtrack of a big movie. They are already started a new BoC album.
They still have a contract for another 3 albums by Warp.

Mike: the next album will be for everyone a big shock, nobody is
expecting this from us.

There are even some plans for liveshows in spring, but this rumour
was 3 years earlier a fact.


Edited by ivi (10/26/05 06:27 PM)

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Re: Brothers of Canada [Re: ivi]
    #4862260 - 10/28/05 03:06 AM (12 years, 6 months ago)

cheers on the interviews  :rocket:

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Re: Brothers of Canada [Re: Vvellum]
    #4875383 - 10/31/05 03:54 PM (12 years, 6 months ago)

Here's one from PLAYLOUDER:


PLAYLOUDER Interview with Boards of Canada
by Gal Detourn

Like Autechre, Warp's Boards of Canada have slowly built a reputation for quality and innovation within the electronica sphere, which, with their reluctance to become public personalities, has created an enigmatic persona. Hence, the minute details of their lives have not been documented. What we can tell you however, is that Marcus and Michael are brothers, they hail from Scotland, and their latest opus ? 'The Campfire Headphase' ? is one of the most beautiful, bittersweet slices of electronica you're likely to hear. Marcus and Michael have found an uncanny way of investing the most futuristic production techniques, with a warm glow of nostalgia. Here's how they see it...

Why are you reluctant to be interviewed?

Marcus: "We've always preferred to let the music stand up for itself, I think it works better in an escapist kind of way when you don't spoil it by talking about it all the time. There are a lot of bands out there who are well-known for being well-known, you know what I mean? And we're not one of those."

The album seems too cohesive to have arrived by accident. What did you set out to achieve?

Mike: "With every record we try to make it able to stand up on its own without relying on what's currently going on. We're making a unique mental and temporal bubble for our records to exist in. This time we set out to make something simple that had shades of a road movie soundtrack, like the musical score to a surreal journey across a late 70's North American desert highway. I think of it as a sort of skewed pop record."

How did you incorporate the guitar elements? Are they samples or did you play?

Mike: "All the guitars and other instruments are played by us. We recorded days of ideas being jammed, then we went through and sampled out phrases. It's all been twisted out of shape. I don't know if I'd ever want to make a straightforward record where it's all regulation live instrumentation, like a traditional rock band. Our approach is to combine organic live elements, of instruments like guitar and drums, but to sample and abuse them to bring in an odd, synthetic side to the music. It's the clash of these things I find interesting."

Is the album less synthesised? Did you have to change your method of working?

Marcus: "There's less use of synths on this record. We've leaned heavily towards a whole 'played, taped and sampled' backdrop this time. I guess sampling for us is different from a lot of other bands, because we routinely sample ourselves rather than other records, so most of the sound generation is coming from real instruments that we played ourselves, mostly recorded with microphones, and a lot of location recording. What you hear on the record is kind of a wall of sound created by sampling as many gnarled acoustic sources we could find."

It's been said that there's a vibe of hazy nostalgia that underpins your music. Where do you think that comes from?

Marcus: "Maybe it's the fuel that we subconsciously use to make our songs, we've got a way of bringing these things out in tunes. We're always pushing a song to the point where it triggers a memory for us. It's a fine science. Something brand new can be artificially nostalgic sometimes, you can implant emotions into the listener that relate to something in their history that in reality never happened."

Is it more accurate to say that you're trying to soundtrack the future or the here and now?

Mike: "That's a good question, because we sort of think we're soundtracking a future that belongs to a past era that took a different branch. We've taken a lot of inspiration from the 70's and early 80's idea of what the future would be. You know, great paranoia films like 'Soylent Green', 'Logan's Run', 'Silent Running' or the 'Andromeda Strain'. I think it would be fair to argue that the future we're now living in has turned out a lot more mundane than anyone expected. It used to be thought that in the year 2000 we'd all be going around in silver costumes, having sex with androids and so on, yet for most of us in 2005 we're not doing much different really from what we were doing in 1977. There's just the addition of mobile phones, the Internet, and different haircuts."

There's a genuine positivity on this album. Where do you think that comes from? Has the birth of Mike's child given you both a different view of the world maybe?

Mike: "I guess this record is more positive than the last, at least on the surface. 'Geogaddi' was kind of exorcising demons, and even after we'd set out to do a record like that, smack in the middle of working on it, 9/11 happened. I remember there were a few of us in the studio that day, and we just ended up glued to the TV for the whole day. I think the months after that pushed us into making a darker record, as I'm sure it did with a lot of bands. A lot's happened since then, I have an amazing little daughter now who makes me laugh every day and gives me a greater sense of purpose on this planet than I ever had. But in a way, the world has actually become even darker over the past four years. There's some crazy underground shenanigans going on now. But instead of reflecting it in a dark record, we decided to make an escapist soundtrack. Like a kind of sanctuary; a day-glo vista you can visit by putting the record on."

But it's often tinged with melancholy. Can emotions that are too clear cut sound cheesy?

Mike: "Absolutely yes, I don't really believe in music that swings too far to either side. You can't just reduce music down to 'happy' or 'sad', that's just dumbing it down. It's a pretty limited, binary way of looking at things. The truth is, it's obviously a huge, complex range of possibilities. When people try to be too emotive or happy with music, it just becomes saccharine and dishonest, like most of what's in the pop charts today. If you want something to be emotionally powerful, there has to be something bittersweet, something emotionally ambiguous, not just black or white. You can be a thousand times more powerful by being subtle and insidious."

Playlouder interviewed Autechre and they seemed like the kind of blokes you could have a pint and a laugh with. Nothing like their enigmatic 'Autechre' persona might suggest. Do people have similar misconceptions about you?

Marcus: "They probably do. Bands like Autechre and ourselves are more interested in pushing music than pushing personalities, but the downside of that is these strange images invented by some overzealous fans and fairly inaccurate journalism."

Sigur Ros say they feel a greater affinity with artists like you than they do most guitar bands. Similarly, do you find inspiration in guitar acts?

Marcus: "It's something that always surprises me, when I talk to electronic musicians, how many of them only listen to other electronic music. It's never been the top of the list for us, our tastes are all over the place, especially a lot of underground guitar bands, raw stuff like the Moldy Peaches and Melt Banana. We've been into Sigur Ros for a while, they're one of the best bands around at the moment. Actually I was watching MTV2 recently, after about an hour of indie stuff, their latest single came on and just blew away the whole hour of stuff that had come before it."

Finally, does the fact that you're brothers aid the creative process?

Mike: "Yeah of course. We have the advantage of not taking ages to explain ideas to each other. When you've written music with the same person for 20 years, you start getting a kind of shorthand dialogue together, so you can cut to the chase. It helps to keep you polar in your own ideas. I think a lot of bands suffer from having too many chefs, and the only way that works is if there's a megalomaniac in the band. With us, there's two megalomaniacs both with the same plan."



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Re: Brothers of Canada [Re: ivi]
    #4875409 - 10/31/05 04:02 PM (12 years, 6 months ago)

This from London's The Times (October 28, 2005):


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Re: Brothers of Canada [Re: dr0mni]
    #4878741 - 11/01/05 10:05 AM (12 years, 6 months ago)

I love this part:

"If you ever see these American makeover programmes where they get ordinary looking people and they give them these regulation whiter-than-white teeth and veneers and all that, quite often I find the finished product really sinister, because they've got these really symmetrical faces with perfect teeth and everything, make-up and the hair. If you actually compare the before-and-after pictures, the person you could imagine being friends with is the one with squint teeth and everything and the gnarly face. And it's the same sort of thing with music and other art. If there's something a bit rough about it, it feels more personal to you, like something that belonged to you on a cassette tape that you've been cherishing for years, rather than something digital and perfect and straight. The drop-outs, the flutter on the tape and everything, you get used to where it happens."

Thats totally why so much of my work on www.myspace.com/athen has so much vinyl noise in it. Thats totally where I was going.

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