Interview Emma Ruth Rundle (MARRIAGES)

« Some of my favorite lyrics are ones I misheard or made up to other peoples songs »

Photo by Gregory Burns

(For English, scroll down)

Duminica, 26 Aprilie, publicul roman ii va intalni pentru prima data live pe membrii trupei Marriages, care vor urca pe scena din The Silver Church Club in deschiderea concertului WOVENHAND, o alta premiera marca Twin Arts.

Marriages a fost infiintat in 2011, in Los Angeles, de catre doi dintre membrii grupului instrumental Red Sparowes, Emma Ruth Rundle si Greg Burns. In 2012 lansau EP-ul Kitsune, avand-o pe Emma in calitate de solista, iar la inceputul lunii aprilie a acestui an americanii au revenit cu albumul lor de debut, Salome. MUZAHOLIC a stat de vorba cu Emma Ruth Rundle, care ne-a povestit pe scurt despre cum a fost creat acest nou material, despre cum au lasat in urma „formula” Post-Rock si ce inseamna sa faci parte din scena muzicala a Los Angeles-ului.

This Sunday, April 26, the Romanian audience will be meeting the Los Angeles band known as Marriages for the very first time. They are currently opening for the Alternative Country/Folk Rock act WOVENHAND on their European tour. The Colorado cowboys’ concert is yet another premiere for Bucharest, courtesy of Twin Arts.

Marriages was founded in 2011 as a collaboration between members of instrumental Post-Rock group Red Sparowes, Emma Ruth Rundle and Greg Burns. In 2012, they released their first EP Kitsune, surprising their fans with guitarist Emma Ruth Rundle’s ethereal vocals. Their debut full-length, Salome, released via Sargent House on April 7, reveals a dramatic change in their style, each song using light and dark shades to enthuse various emotions.  

This tour marks the band’s first set of European dates, offering fans an opportunity to hear songs off the new album. MUZAHOLIC talked with Emma Ruth Rundle to find out more about Marriages’ not wanting to write any “type” of music and getting away from the “Post-Rock” formula, as well as about growing up and making music in Los Angeles.

Hi guys, and thank you for taking the time to answer MUZAHOLIC’s questions! How is it going and how do you feel about your upcoming European tour?

ERR (Marriages): Thank you for taking the time for us. Things are good - we are sitting in LAX at the moment waiting to get on the plane… we feel very lucky to get to tour with Wovenhand. I’m looking forward to tour the EU with Marriages - it will be our first time. Greg and I have not been to tour there since the Red Sparowes days.

Do you find that Salome and its shift in sound will radically change the vibe of your future live shows? Has “Skin” become a crowd favorite yet?

ERR: We have not really had much chance to play the new songs. I don't think our approach to live shows will change much. We have not added or taken away anything - the only difference is that the new material is more song based, though we use transitions between songs to make the performance flowing rather than too broken up.

What’s the message behind that first single? 

ERR: It’s a personal message to someone I know.

Your debut full-length is set to be released on April 7th via Sargent House and it is in many ways a new direction for Marriages. How, in your mind, do the new songs on Salome compare to your first record?

ERR: For those who have listened to Kitsune, our first release, the differences will be fairly obvious. Kitsune is one long song with flowing parts and effected vocals that are tucked behind the music. Salome is song based - getting away from the “Post-Rock” formula. We wanted to make a more traditional record with vocally focused songs.

Photo by Nick Fancher

How easy – or difficult – was the piecing together of the new record? Was is hard to decide which songs will eventually get to be featured on the album? Are there any unreleased songs to be included in the live set?

ERR: We wrote a lot of music on the road to Salome - much of which is now forgotten - it took time. It was difficult to choose which ones we wanted to record and even harder deciding what would make the cut and which ones would be left for B-sides/bonus tracks. We are not playing any of these on this tour.

Andrew Clinco joined the band shortly after the release of Kitsune. How do you feel that influenced the songwriting and fit with the band’s dynamic?

ERR: Andrew is first and foremost a musician- he plays guitar and works on his own one man solo work - he is an incredible songwriter on his own SO his approach to drumming is what I call very musical. He brought a lot to the group and all the melodies and changes we already had, really came together with his drumming in place.

The artwork for the album is really interesting and it’s brilliant the way it encapsulates the themes such as seduction and violence, as the title suggests. How did you choose that particular artwork?

ERR: I’m glad you feel that way are were able to pick up on those themes. The artwork was a band effort - we all worked on the concept then marched into a field and took those photos. Greg is a great photographer and what you see on the cover as a finished product is a direct result of our teamwork but mostly of his skill.

Let’s talk a bit about style. You’ve been described as a dynamic and slightly darker twist on the iconic music of the ’80s and ’90s. It is Alternative Rock, but not the usual clichéd formula. What’s important to you regarding Marriages?

ERR: I never want to feel like I have to write any “type” of music. It’s important to me that Marriages remains free to change and play what we feel. I think Salome is a good step in this direction.

Do you feel sometimes that people misinterpret your music or are misled by your lyrics? Is it important that your lyrics are interpreted “correctly,” or are these lyrics more universal?

ERR: My lyrics are very personal. I’m not sure that even my bandmates know what I am singing about and, to be honest, I don’t care. Some of my favorite lyrics are ones I misheard or made up to other peoples songs. If people mishear something - that is ok. I hope listeners will add their own meanings to the songs.

Photo by Nick Fancher

What do you hope your listeners take away from this album?

ERR: I have no hope for what people take away. I have no control over that aspect and don’t think about it.

Have you been reading a lot of the press about the new album? Do you usually pay attention to what critics or journalists say? 

ERR: We have been reading reviews a bit- seems very positive out there- I personally try not to get too involved in reading press or comments etc. I don't want to be affected for good or bad.

Out of all of the new songs MARRIAGES has released, which has been your favorite and why?

ERR: “Salome”, the title track, is my favorite so far. It’s visceral and I feel the emotion of it still. When a song retains its emotional impact, for me as I hear and perform it, it is successful.

Some Heavy Ocean is one of my favorite albums of 2014. Your voice is absolutely enchanting, as well as the lyrics. Was there a time when you felt out of place when performing such songs in front of an audience?

ERR: Thank you. Without going into it deeply, I will say that yes; it is sometimes uncomfortable to perform such personal music. 

Was music a big thing in your family? What was the music around you as a kid growing up in Los Angeles?

ERR: Both of my parents are musical. My father studied it at UCLA - he went on to play in bands and even met my stepmother in one of them. He composes from his home now. He was always playing piano - he still does. Mostly improvising unique and beautiful music. My mother plays the harpsichord. I grew up around music, yes. I spent a lot of time hanging out in a small, historically important, music store called McCabe’s guitar shop. I went on to work there when I was old enough - it’s hard to explain what it’s like there. Lessons, concerts, exotic instruments and very high end luthier built guitars. There is a repair shop inside it too. I owe a lot of my ability to McCabe’s. I was taken care of there and handed down knowledge from the brilliant folk who work and teach there. I’ll always be grateful for that job.

What is the best thing about living, writing music and performing in Los Angeles? And what are the drawbacks?

ERR: I recently relocated to Portland- but I mostly live out of a bag these days. The best things about LA are the people I know and love there. Also, not having to wear much clothing - I miss being able to wear shorts every day. 

The thing about music in LA is that there is just so fucking much of it. Both being made and passing through - everybody, except from Tom Waits, plays LA. Growing up there spoils you in a way. Iv’e been in and out of many little scenes that have come and gone in LA. I don’t really participate in the conversation anymore. Iv’e become reclusive and disinterested in keeping up with LA’s contemporary music culture. 

Drawbacks: too many people - too expensive - I feel like I can hear everyone thinking and it makes my head want to explode like heads do in the film “Scanners.” Not being able to afford rent isn't fun either.

What is the most interesting city you’ve visited?

ERR: It’s hard to say- I base my options on such little information. Usually it will have to do more with the venue, its staff, the food and audience and maybe a glimpse of something through the van window. So far, on this tour, I found Veyvey to be the most interesting. It’s built into the hills and smells of flowers. There was a stream just minutes from the venue. The town rest on Lake Geneva (of Lemon Lake as they called it). The show and venue were run by a bunch of amazing women and I had a wonderful night. 

Are there things you can only express through music?

ERR: Yes.

What advice would you give to young aspiring musicians?

ERR: This is hard- if you think you want to pursue a living through music or art; understand that it will be a very long road and it requires years of very hard, unending work. The life I live is not a glamorous one at all. I have no words of encouragement, to be honest. Play for yourself and not for any other reason. Keep your feet on the ground and try not to become an asshole. 

To end this interview, we here at MUZAHOLIC evolve around the notion of “beauty”, whether it music or the arts or simply life itself? What does “beauty” mean to you personally?

ERR: Something that moves my heart. Something truly beautiful will make me happy- its cheesy but just seeing the spring and flowers takes me out of myself and I feel like a child. That’s magic and beauty to me.

Thanks for chatting with us!

ERR: Thank you for listening.

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Photo by Nick Fancher

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Asadar, duminica, 26 Aprilie, Twin Arts ne dau intalnire in clubul The Silver Church din Bucuresti! Accesul publicului se va face incepand cu ora 19:30, iar concertul celor de la MARRIAGES va incepe de la ora 20:00. La ora 21:00, WOVENHAND isi vor prezenta discul cu numarul sapte, Refractory Obdurate.


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