Below is an interview for Staf Magazine (Spain), this is the English translation. to see the original Spanish version go HERE. Thanks!
Staf: You´ve been working on “The World Unseen” from 2011. Knowing that music don´t need to be rushed, how was its growth? Did it have multiple mutations?
Faith: There were multiple versions of the record. I began writing the record in 2011, and then recorded rough demos, and then better demos. From there we recorded the basic structures and piano compositions, and moved on to the first round of recording with Randall Dunn, and then a second round. We mixed the record once and then re-mixed the record a second time, then took apart the record, did home recording and mixed some more with Randall, and then got the final master. We also went through 3 different pressing plants until we got an acceptable test pressing for the 2xLP. Thanks to Cascade record pressing plant for getting it right! The whole process took a very long time.
Staf: You´ve said in others interviews that the album is imperfect. I think what you said like it ´s “intentionally imperfect”. As if you´ve included an emptiness, trying to transmit an impression as if something were missing. If that was your intention, could you explain the idea behind that.
Faith: Yes, absence and loss was such a heavy influence on our lives when working on this record, that in trying to communicate these feelings and thoughts/ideas, the record began to contain this emptiness and loss as a "presence". The "something missing" became the focal point. We were writing about something invisible and intangible that could be felt, and also capture invisible hope or faith, a belief in something you cannot see. The feeling of loss is a presence in itself, trying to reach out to touch this invisible presence in the dark, trying to re-connect, make contact knowing our human hands could hardly interpret the "other side", and hoping for communication with the impossible or the divine, a miracle, both hopeless and full of hope.
Staf: Sorry about asking a question based on my subjective interpretacion, but in your previous work with Menche, “Crater”, it feels like, to me, that working in the Pacific Northwest Forests you evoke a spiritual feeling, that in the massiveness and peacefullness of the stones and trees there is a certain divinity, while also some moments of tension. And the calm of the landscape clases with our own, more individual, human perceptions. I feel that in “The World Unseen” the tension is stronger than in “Crater”, and clashes between a great spiritual beauty and more human echos. Is that more or less right or do I have serious pyschological damage to my frontal lobe? Also, how do you work such abstract ideas with the musical language that you´ve created?
Faith: "Crater" does have these qualities. The tension on "The World Unseen" is very different. It is a tension of human in unknown relation to the seemingly impossible (mortal limits) or the divine. The distance felt between life and death, and a closeness to information or divinity through extreme circumstances and emotions. Maybe also a longing for connection with belief and a fear of abandonment of this divine presence- like a fear of reaching out across the void and finding nothing. This record is a great leap of faith in a lot of ways. The tension of these questions and fears is very much an influence on how it was made. Trying to work with these ideas by creating something out of nothing.
Staf: We´ve seen in the evolution of Mamiffer how well your work as a designer and graphic artist complements your work as a musician. You´ve approched “The World Unseen” from many perspectives, can you tell us what you´ve “seen”?
Faith: I approach design from the perspective of "objects in space", and this is much like my idea of composition and music: "sounds in space". I also approach design as a puzzle. There are these objects in space, and maybe there are a lot to choose from. My job would then also be an editor (much like subtracting sounds from a recording). This process of subtraction begins, and reveals the "answer" that the design puzzle needs.
What I saw for The World Unseen is that the aural properties were so much about transcending the body through hallucinations, space, death and heaven, that the accompanying visual components needed to be an "anchor", rooted in the earth and body, something tangible. The artwork needed to serve as container, and needed secure, and instantly understandable solid images.
Staf: Biology and nature are very strong concepts in Mamiffer and your art. You show full grey forests charged with esotericism, witchcraft or paganism. At other times it feels like a large macro-cosmos (photos of large open spaces) and micro-cosmos (rivers, branches or blocks of ice in the foreground). You also use biological concepts as the name for some of your songs (domestication of the ewe, parthenogenesis…). What attracts you to these concepts and what are you trying to explore?
Faith: I am usually trying to explore questions I have about how space, light and time interact to express emotion and spirit. Nature is a great canvass of opportunity in which to see (by chance) the clues or answers organized within supposed chaos, to these questions I have. Combining the visual "clues" together, to form a narrative helps his process. If I cannot find an answer, I can at least get close, and get a feeling, or the answer reveals itself in time. I am interested in visual information fields, and the document of overwhelming information, or the absence or cover up of visual information (such as the natural covering of snow etc). I am also very invested in objects having their own subjectivity, and narrative arch through time, and how the body (in all its manifestations and stages-biology) feels it witnesses these objects. I like to make the human body the object in the subjectivity of nature, as if nature is witnessing and creating reality or illusions of reality for the human. I love the moment of coming into contact with objects that have their own history, and the stories they release. Implying a connection between people who aren't actually connected through present time interactions, but are connected through an object whose use value has changed in my hands. I see found recordings have this affect also, as do specific spots in nature where the history of a geographical place has been covered over by vines and trees/time etc.
"It is when the experience and emotion of pleasure intertwines with the qualities of the object that beauty arises" Within these situations that is when the answer or spirit is near.
Staf: A few months ago we enjoyed your work as Mara, with “Surfacing”. How has that Project “cohabited” with Mamiffer and “The World Unseen”.
Faith: Mamiffer is something I create and share with others I want to work with such as Aaron or collaborators. Mára is something I can do wholly on my own. I didn't know how important this was until I recorded The World Unseen. We recorded basic tracks for The World Unseen and also the Mára record "Surfacing" at the same time. At first I tried to approach "Surfacing" as being a part of The World Unseen, and for a while thought they were both part of the same record. Eventually it was revealed through constructing The World Unseen that Mára needed its own space, and I went back to my demo recordings of "Surfacing" and used those basic documents as the foundations for the record.
A little piece of Mára" remains on The World Unseen though: the choir song "Mara".
Staf: I think we can clearly say that Mamiffer is a pillar in the north american underground music scence, with deep roots; Aaron comes from Isis and Hydrahead, you from the House of Low Culture, and a numerous artistic colaborations over more than 10 years. Also the Mamiffers previous works are proof of the fluid musical realtions that you have with many contempory musicians. Looking back, what idea would you say gave bith to Mamiffer and what is its most inmutable ideal?
Faith: from 2002-2007 or so I was in a project with Chris Badger called Everlovely Lightningheart (Hydra Head records). It was a very chaotic project involving a lot of experimentation and improvisation. In 2007 I was bringing in a lot of composed and less automatic material. A lot of it did not fit in with what Chris and I were trying to accomplish and I had a very strong desire to do music on my own and also a desire to move out of Los Angeles where I was living at the time. The evolution of Mamiffer came through moving to the Pacific North West, and the musicians I lived with when I first moved to Seattle. The new friends and family I met through Hydra Head also helped with the evolution of Mamiffer. The ultimate idea that gave birth to Mamiffer was my will to do something on my own, I create all the music, and direct the contributions, Mamiffer was born to give a vehicle to this expression.
Mamiffer's most immutable idea would be that as a vehicle for expression, it serves to help me learn new ways of living, thinking, seeing and learning. Making creative connections and making friends through music, art and touring, and to explore all the things I have yet to learn from this medium.
Staf: As a co-founder of SIGE Record, you have been, and are, both a musician and a record company in the independant scene. We know it´s a hard but fulfilling job. Could you tell us about the beginings of SIGE Records, the joys it brings and if you can any info about future releases or news?
Faith: We started SIGE to put out the vinyl version of Mamiffer's "Hirror Enniffer". Hydra Head Records put out the CD, so we wanted a small run of LP's where we could control the production. We wanted to be able to do small editions with hand made packaging and not overextend ourselves, and we wanted to make back our investments, and any profit would be put back into the label. We made a set of parameters for releases where we would only release projects we were involved with, or of people we were collaborating with. In the last 3 years or so, we began releasing records we were not directly involved with, and we have overextended ourselves in terms of workload. We never intended for the label to do as well as it has, or have a larger reach, so we are starting to scale it back now, and returning mostly to smaller editions, and fewer releases. Handling mail-order, PR and doing most of all the designs and artwork for so many releases a year was impacting our ability to give attention to our own projects like Mamiffer and Sumac, we are happy to be devoting more time to family and our own music!
This year we are releasing:
Mamiffer "The World Unseen" CD/2xLP/CS
SUMAC "What One Becomes" CS
SUMAC "The Deal" CS re-press
SUMAC "What One Becomes" CS
SUMAC "The Deal" CS re-press
Black Spirituals "Black Treatment" CS
Black Spirituals new full length LP
Aaron Turner+ William Fowler Collins LP
Mamiffer+Daniel Menche "Live at Debacle" cassette
Barnett+Coloccia "Weld" CS
Endon "Mama" CS
Mára "Surfacing" LP
And 3 artist books
You can get the new record HERE