May 18, 2009

Interview: Here We Go Magic

Celebrated music critic Lester Bangs said, "The first mistake of art is to assume that it's serious." While Brooklyn, New York singer/songwriter Luke Temple may imbue his craft with serious emotions and tone, he doesn't make that mistake: his most recent project Here We Go Magic is colored with doses of psychedelic folk, bubblegum pop, and fistfuls of fairy dust. Recorded in just two months on a four-track, Here We Go Magic is a collection of ambient and experimental soundscapes that Temple has molded into beautifully arranged but barely recognizable song structures. 

Here We Go Magic, both the album title and band name, is Temple's playful alternative reality. The songwriter recently described his song "Fangela" for a DC blog: "It tells a story of a little vampire. He gets away with everything because no one is scared of him. He’s very small and black and hops around." Temple provides glimpses of what songs are about in his lyrics, but nothing as clear as this description. Most often, lyrics are undecipherable amidst layers of looped vocals, echoed and reverberated handclaps, and Temple's own delicate and high falsetto which cuts like a knife through the buttery swells of sound. Instead, the record takes equal amount of imagination from the listener to understand as it did from Temple to create. But then again, art doesn't always need to be understood. Sometimes songs just work.

Temple spoke with Everybody Taste about his early reading habits, playing larger venues opening for Grizzly Bear, and whether or not we're in a musical golden age. 

ET: What was the first song you learned to play and on what instrument? 
Temple: "Smoke on the Water," guitar

ET: What's the name of the first song you ever wrote? 

ET: Your music has a lot of fantastical elements to it. Did you read any particular inspiring or influential children's books, fantasy novels or comic books growing up? 
TempleIn high school I was obsessed with the Carlos Castaneda books. They are supposed non fictional accounts of his apprenticeship with a Yaqui Indian sorcerer named Don Juan. They are very hallucinogenic stories dealing with altered states of consciousness.

ET: Do you make Here We Go Magic's art work? I love the painting where you're holding a few little monsters in your arms while a larger horned version of the creature looks on in the distance. Is that a metaphor for anything, or do you just like stealing baby monsters? 
TempleI did make the Here We Go Magic art work but I think you are mistaking it for the Daytrotter session painting. The Here We Go Magic art is of a crystalline space ship.

ET: What made you want to release something under the name Here We Go Magic in place of Luke Temple? Was that a conscious decision or was it more something the music dictated? 
TempleThe music dictated it more or less, it was such a departure from my previously released stuff that it seemed a fitting vehicle for wearing a new name.

ET: How did you go about finding the right musicians to bring your project to a live setting? Is that a difficult process? 
TempleFriends and friends of friends. It has been a lot of work but incredibly rewarding.

ET: In terms of music, 2008 and 2009 have been rich full of talent and originality. Do you think we're due for some sort of golden age in music? People say hard times inspire great art. Or maybe the internet gives ears to great art. What do you think? 
TempleI think that it's a golden age in terms of a accessibility due to the internet, however there is not as much quality control as there once was. I do like how the music being made now is coming from influences that were not as accessible in the past. It seems that there is a hunger for exploring different kinds of forms. Form is a great place to start but emotional transference comes through maturity. I am eager to see what happens as my generation matures within the next 10-15 years.

ET: Best album you picked up recently? 
TempleCass McCombs' Dropping the Writ

ET: Opening for Grizzly Bear, I imagine you'll be playing bigger venues than you're used to. Will that change anything about the way you and the band perform? 
TempleWe shall see. I think we are equipped to deal with it quite nicely. It's gonna be a trial and error thing at first, but I think we have the potential to sound large so a larger venue could be beneficial to making that happen. Then again, we like playing basements.

Quick fire round:
ET: What goes in the plastic cup during a show: whiskey, beer, or water? 
TempleAny of the above at any given moment.

ET: Use one word to describe each of the following: Animal Collective, Bram Stroker, Barack Obama.
Temple: bright, hair, ears. 

ET: The first song you play when introducing someone to your music? 
TempleIt's always changing, right now maybe "Fangela." I'm very proud of that song.

ET: Favorite artist that sounds nothing like you?
TempleOl' Dirty Bastard

ET: If Here We Go Magic were an animal, what would it be? 

Here We Go Magic - "Tunnelvision" (from Here We Go Magic)

Here We Go Magic

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