March 01, 2006

Interview: Head Like a Kite

Listen To:"Noisy At The Circus"
Listen To: "Tell Mommy You Want a Sip of Beer"

Enjoyment is easy with a record like Random Portraits of the Home Movie, the debut from Seattle “supergroup” Head Like a Kite. The project of Pattern 25 records mogul Dave Einmo. Enlisting friends from bands like Crooked Fingers, Smoosh, and Preston School of Industry, Einmo built a record based upon and inspired by his parents’ home movies, sampling some here and taking inspiration there. Sure, at times the concept runs a little bit thin, and you wouldn’t recognize the concept based upon cold listening, but that doesn’t really distract from the fact that this is a really great record. As for the music, it’s a healthy and heady blend of new wave, post-punk, R&B, dance, and atmospheric alt-rock. The band blends these different sounds together in a really nice way; at times, they’ll present dark, almost gothy new-wave (as on “Words of a Friend” and “Your Butt Crack Smile”) but then, just as you think you’ve pegged them for being dark-hearted, they’ll pop some sunshine on you, with the wonderful “Noisy At the Circus” (featuring excellent singing from li’l Asha Smoosh) and the New Order-esque “Injecting 10 CC’s of Temptation.” It says a lot that they cover so much ground in only 30 minutes, and they never sound overwhelmed by their stylistic diversity. Random Portraits of the Home Movie is, simply, an excellent debut record.

We recently provided head Head Dave Einmo with a brief excuse from packing for his current West Coast tour:

What inspired the concept of building songs around old Super-8 movies?

I love how natural environmental sounds mix into music. If you walk around with headphones listening to music, you hear songs mixed with the sirens and airplanes, passing people, and cars around you. The random environmental sounds become additional instruments that add excitement to the music. I wanted to capture that, and sampling sounds from my parent's Super 8 home movies seemed a natural source. You only had about 3 minutes per reel in those days, so people would capture on film these short snapshots of what they thought were important events. Often the random things happening around them, the unexpected things, proved to be the most telling. I think live music is that way, as well. It's the surprises around the hook that often are more interesting than the hook itself. So I started experimenting with the Super 8 home movies, and mixing the sounds into the songs, and manipulating them with old analog guitar effects.

When you write, which comes first--writing music or watching films?

Some of the ideas came from watching the films and then responding to what I was watching -- sort of like creating a soundtrack. Other songs were created with me coming up with some independent ideas and then pulling samples from the movies to accentuate the songs.

From what I've read of your live performance, you present the films with music. Is there any plan to bring this multimedia experience—not necessarily a 'live' performance, but the blending of film to music--to DVD?

I gave a VJ, Tony Nelson, copies of all the films I used to create the record, and then he edited them into short clips. Live he joins us and triggers the clips to synch up with us while we play. He's a genius. Really cool stuff. We've talked about maybe editing some of this stuff into a DVD to accompany the record. I don't know. It's kind of cool to have a separate live thing, too. We'll see. Speaking of live, we are leaving early in the morning for the West Coast tour, and of course, I have not packed anything yet. It's midnight. I need to start packing. I'm methodical about producing music. But packing? I hate it.

Thanks, Dave!

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