Thursday, December 22, 2011

Interview with Rachel Evans of Motion Sickness of Time Travel

Motion Sickness of Time Travel Interview:

Joe/Cryptic Inscriptions:I want to thank you Rachel for taking the time to do this interview, give a brief history of Motion Sickness of Time Travel and the origin of the name?

Rachel/Motion Sickness of Time Travel:Motion Sickness of Time Travel is the name I started recording under in winter 2008. The phrase is taken from Burroughs' "The Soft Machine". My husband Grant actually suggested the name to me. It seemed to be a perfect fit for what I wanted my music to sound and feel like, so I stuck with it. When I started MSOTT it was supposed to be an outlet for me to experiment more with music and get out of my comfort zone, which up to that point had been traditional instruments... acoustic guitar, piano, etc.

Joe:When you create your soundscapes what picture do you want to paint for the listener?

Rachel:I try to paint a picture of the world as I see it sometimes... as I wish it looked all the time. I guess it's the picture of imagining other dimensions or other states of consciousness. A lot of my recordings are inspired by weird hallucinations I've had, weird dreams I've had, or like trying to get the music to induce weird visuals like tracers or light spots. I also like to try and take you into a sleeping state. A lot of the time I'm meditating on the idea of sleep, and the differences or relationships between being asleep and awake. Dreaming has always been a weird thing for me. In some ways I try to recreate dreams in my recordings, and get the listener to dream while awake. I know that probably doesn't make much sense... it's hard to put into words.

Joe:Judging by the artwork it seems that you’re inspired by nature, winter, the night sky and I see a lot of weird surrealism in the art. Do you draw inspirations from just these subjects or from other experiences in your life or things that interest you? Also do you do the artwork or does someone else do it?

Rachel:I have done my own artwork in the past, and I do artwork for many of the tapes that come out on the label Grant and I run together (hooker vision). But for my recent solo LPs and tapes I've gotten others to do the artwork. I did the art for my "Seeping Through the Veil of the Unconscious" cassette, but asked Grant to do the artwork for that album's LP re-issue. For my recent tapes on Digitalis and Hobo Cult Records, as well as my last LP on Digitalis, "Luminaries & Synastry", my good friend Frank (who actually runs Hobo Cult Records) did that artwork. I really like his style, plus collaborating is always fun. For my newest LP, a split on Aguirre Records (a split with Grant's solo project, Nova Scotian Arms) Grant and I each did artwork for our sides. It may be my favorite of all the art I've ever done for one of my own releases. I am very much inspired by nature and the sky, the stars... the things in life that are super-real like that are always, strangely enough, some of the most surreal things in life too.

Joe:Has MSOTT always been a solo project or have you had help in the past or done collaborations with other artists in the ambient or experimental genres?

Rachel has always been a totally solo project. So far I haven't collaborated with anyone else under that moniker. However, I do have a split in the works with Lunar Miasma, a sound artist from Greece. We're working on pieces that we plan to swop with one another and add to each other's parts. But it's not a new project, just a different take on a split, making it more collaborative. I think it's going to turn out well. His synth recordings are pretty epic. Other collaborations I've done have been under other project names: Quiet Evenings is the duo project Grant and I record as; and Aerial Jungle is the name Brad Rose and I recorded as. Also, over the past year I've been collaborating with Finnish sound artist Olli Aarni and his project Ous Mal. I've done several vocals for a number of his tracks which will be included on some of his upcoming releases. That's been an especially interesting collaboration, one to look out for. I hear Anya, the voice of Russia's Love Cult, will be making an appearance on his album too!

Joe:Do you think of your music as an audio depiction of a dream or a strange vision quest?

Rachel:Yes! Definitely. As I said earlier, dreams have always been a weird thing for me, and just sleep in general. There are so many things in life that can make time seem to stretch out or shorten... and so many moments of de-ja-vu, or almost de-ja-vu. And so many things can alter our perception of the world, sometimes in bigger ways than others. It’s always been something that's too difficult to effectively express in words like this, but I think putting it together as a soundscape or song is the best way to communicate it.

Joe:What equipment do you utilize as far as MSOTT is concerned? Do you use the same set up live or do you use different set ups for recordings/live?

Rachel:When I record MSOTT I generally use every piece of gear I have at my disposal. In the early MSOTT days I used guitar, flutes, and my synth. All of my recent recordings have cut out the acoustic instruments and I use the two synths I have now. My favorite is my Dave Smith Mopho. I also use a mini Korg Kaossilator and my klunky Space Synth a lot too. I have a few pedals, a digi delay that I use more like a loop pedal, and a Holy Grail reverb. In recordings I use all of that, except for the pedals. I generally just use the pedals for live performances or when jamming or practicing. For live MSOTT shows, I've also recently been using 2 microphones instead of one. I'll run one through my pedals, using verb & delay/looping, and the other mic I'll run through my computer into a Logic reverb (in the past I've used Max/Msp for reverb and other effects too). The 2 mics I think is the best way for me to do vocals live and have it sound as close to my recordings as possible. It's still not quite enough though... I do so much layering with my vocals on record at times, and so much processing and effecting of them that it's difficult to re-create that part the same way live, since I don't have quite enough gear to pull it off perfectly.

Joe:I notice that you have a lot of releases with MSOTT do you have a lot of spare time to work on the material or do you set certain time aside to just concentrate on compositions?

Rachel:The number of releases I've racked up as MSOTT is mind-boggling to me... I always feel like I don't have enough time to record but when I look back I guess I have enough time. Recently I've been busier than I was last year. I'm working on my master in library science taking full time classes, so that takes up a lot of my time. I'm in my 2nd to last semester now, so once I'm done with that degree I hope to be able to dedicate more time to music. I also work at a library during the week so unless it's a holiday or in between semesters I never record for anything if the sun is still up, because of my busy schedule I do most of my recording in spurts, and generally record the majority (if not all) of an album in one sitting. It's really really hard to set time aside to just work on music during the regular semester. That's why I always get more music done in the summer and in December/January. I can really focus on music more during those times of the year.

Joe:I know you have another project with your husband called Quiet Evenings what elements in that project are different from the ones you use in MSOTT?

Rachel:Well I use all of the same gear, but with Quiet Evenings I really try to hold back on vocals. I use them very sparingly and never try to make them the focal point. With QE it's all about textures and exploring those. Generally with QE, Grant and I try to keep it slow. QE certainly influences MSOTT's sound, but not the other way around. I try to keep MSOTT's slight rhythmic and pop tendencies out of QE as much as possible. They are two totally separate projects entirely, with two very different philosophies. QE is much more abstract in both its sounds and approach.

Joe:I know you played live with MSSOTT how’s the response been to your live performances? Is it hard to replicate the material live?

Rachel:It's certainly hard to totally replicate my recordings, so I don't even try to aim for that. In recent live MSOTT shows I've done mostly improvised pieces, but I always try to do one piece live that I hope people will recognize. The past few show’s I've done "Synastry" from my recent Digitalis LP. It's a really simply orchestrated track that's pretty easy to re-create. For the improvised tracks I just imagine I'm recording at home and do whatever comes to me... it works pretty well since most of my recordings start out as improvisations, and I just keep building improvised layers on top of one another. In the live setting I use looping to simulate the thickness, and multi-tracking for my recordings.

Joe:Do you consider your soundscapes to being more surreal or more abstract?

Rachel:I'd say my MSOTT recordings are more surreal... sometimes they're on the verge of abstract, but the word "abstract" to me feels more high-brow than "surreal". Now Quiet Evenings, that's where I feel I'm the most abstract. Grant really helps me to break into that type of sound more, and away from surreal... surreal still has too much "real" in it which is why MSOTT fits that descriptor better. It's still grounded... QE is in another world altogether.

Joe:Thanks again for doing this interview Rachel. Anything else for the readers as far as new releases, shows or any other updates are concerned?

Rachel:No problem! Quiet Evenings has an upcoming tape on German label Sic Sic, and recently released two LPs on our own label, Hooker Vision, including a split with fellow southerners Seziki Tetrasheaf, and our first solo vinyl effort, Intrepid Trips.
As far as new and upcoming solo releases go, my next LP is out now, a split on Belguim imprint Aguirre Records with Grant's Nova Scotian Arms. My next cassette tape will be released in the coming month on Bathetic, a split with the UK's Listening Mirror, and my next big solo release is planned for February 2012 on Spectrum Spools. It's called "Gold Heat" and will be a double LP. I've worked closely with John Elliott of Emeralds on that album... needless to say I'm pretty excited about that one.
In the mean time, I've been doing some remixes. I just finished a remix for Sleep Over, Ous Mal, and Cedric Stevens.
Lastly, I don't think I mention it enough in interviews since there's never really a good point to, but I love cats!! I have three, and they are my constant inspiration, and thanks for asking me to do this interview!


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