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Eartheather

Interview

Drewchin was raised Russian Orthodox on a farm in Pennsylvania and is now based in Brooklyn. Office caught up with her on a call from Ljubljana to Venice.

 

Office — So I caught you in Venice—tell me, what is your view like, and what are you feeling in this moment?

 

Alexandra Drewchin — I’m in a pink bed. It’s really cute how the promoters of the shows get wind of my latest color obsession and cater to it—this is the third or fourth pink cloud I’ve been blessed with on this tour. I feel romantic and a little bloated––I think I’m about to get my period. Venice is the romantic toilet of Europe after all. However, this is luckily not the smelly season.

 

O — How did you get started with your musical interests?

 

AD — I feel like every time I’m asked this question I can respond to it with a different indepth answer. Today it seems clear to me to talk about my father—also Alex Drewchin. He was not the typical supportive dad, concerned with my education, health and wellbeing. He didn’t care, and I’ve felt my fair share of disdain towards his distance and selfishness. He was a floating, unpredictable explosion of expression always—an aesthetic fascist, a hopeless romantic, poet, dancer, pianist, but most of all a painter. He wasn’t around that much, and he never became “successful” in the art world, or any world other than his own for that matter. Having said that, I have to say that much of my obsession and sensibility as an artist was first informed by him. I am careful to try and take what I like from him and leave the rest, although sometimes I wonder how much of my kinesthetic awareness and expression, and rendering intelligence in music and visual art is actually genetically inherited. I even tried rebelling in high school and abandoned music and art. It didn’t take me long to fall back into my natural inclination for music, art, and performance. It’s my—maybe given—role in the world. 

 

 

O — You are balancing between Guardian alien and eartheater.what is it like to be involved in two music projects side by side?

 

AD — Eartheater was always Eartheater and will always be Eartheater—it’s me. It is what I do. I’ll be doing it until I die. Guardian Alien is a vehicle, or a lab, or a temple that I enter and exit accordingly with my copilot Greg Fox. He is also busy with other projects so there is a healthy balance. Also, the two projects relieve different artistic impulses. Eartheater is the type of project where “the experience,” past or present, is never obsolete and can always be referenced in the poetic mirage—it’s a conversation in search of elegance using strategic juxtapositions, and of course lyrics. Meanwhile Guardian Alien, for me, is violently slaying the past always and reaching for newness and rebirth—and that labor is without an epidural. 

 

If I am not inspired while performing, that’s when it turns into a job. It’s like the difference between making love or like, blowing for some cash.

O — The study of ritualistic and folklore sounds sometimes focuses on the altered state of consciousness that those sounds can provoke. I can see your sound provoking that feeling in your audience, if they are fully present and let themselves be taken on that journey. What’s your take on that?

 

AD — I don’t think I fully understand the question, but I feel like quoting some of my lyrics:

 

“Hung up in the tip of a tongue/felt like fiction/bit the bowl off the spoon for fantasies fruition”

 

“I don’t belong to a sect/too much comfort wrecks the intellect/devils advocating disguise/I see all things from all sides/fictional processing/this novel is getting to me/this author knows beauty and the beast/both psychologies/both psychologies/fictional processing for peace”

 

O — You’ve mentioned that while working and writing new stuff, you are constantly teetering between composition and chaos. What exactly do you mean by that?

 

AD — I’m reading and writing the book at the same time. I obsess over hypercomposition, and for my work to be exactly right. I’m brutally self-critical and scrutinizing in the studio, and in creating the recorded portal. While on the other hand, in performing or conceiving, I am a wild creature with every follicle elevated to receive signal. This is my dance between possessing the introspective consciousness of my human mind while still being a wild animal harnessing the energetic truth of the moment— the tension between control and letting go.

 

O — What’s the ultimate feeling you get while working on a song?

 

AD — Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response—ASMR. I always like to think about the ancient Latin meaning of genius. They used the term to mean a deity or spirit guardian that would exit and enter one whether spontaneously or with an invitation. They believed that one’s genius would actually live in the walls of their houses and then enter the body which would induce inspiration. In the moments when a song suddenly presents itself to me and essentially appears out of thin air, I like to entertain the idea of channeling, which relieves the ego somewhat. It’s a very special magical feeling.

 

O — Throughout your lyrics you are always addressing certain topics, communicating with your audience. How do you decide which topics you will bring to life?

 

AD — The poetry and the topics are constantly brewing. I scribble down little notes or mantras all the time, some of which develop over months and months and aren’t harnessed until years later. It’s fun to see these little ideas suddenly come together as a whole record. That’s another fun thing about performing, I am constantly including topics and information, my new revelations, new ideas from the day, or the day before, and splicing them into the written content— just to keep it fresh. I am easily bored, I have to keep myself inspired. If I am not inspired while performing, that’s when it turns into a job. It’s like the difference between making love or like, blowing for some cash. [laughs]

 

O — Some of your songs are entitled Put a Head in a Head, Gnarly Nipple, Youniverse. How do you narrow everything down to those few words that somehow characterize the whole thing?

 

AD — I love to name things. We inform our reality with words and language, so when I get to come up with new groupings of words I feel like I’m carving out new meanings of our perceived reality. Sometimes the name just happens and is totally clear and unarguable, while other times I have to write out all the layered meaning of a piece, sometimes even with graphs and flow charts, and boil down the essence to extract the correct title. It gets scientific.

 

 

O — Your sound can be very delicate and quiet, were you ever out-louded by your own audience? 

 

AD — That’s such a good question, and I really appreciate you bringing it up, because that’s some real talk. I love to play, when the opportunity presents itself, really delicately. I love to play really quiet sounds and it’s heavenly and amazing when you can feel super connected to the audience in delicacy. But i also do like to transform myself to what a room feels and needs. These days I don’t allow the audience to talk over me. I just play loud and dance—I find that you can hypnotize the human eye with body language. The triple dialect of sound, movement, and actual words is that sticky shit when it comes to audience participation. A lot of people are also noticing my live performances are louder and crazier than my records are, but that’s just because instead of freaking out at the audience, which I have done before, I am taking up the challenge to snatch their faces off before they even have to think about it. I’m not saying I haven’t freaked out at an audience. I’ve walked off stage before. Now, if I do have to deal with a particularly drunk disrespectful crowd I’ll just say “OK guys I get it! You all want to drink and flirt and shit, but if you are here to listen to music, let’s do it. But let’s do it for like five minutes. I will play a five minute set. Can you guys handle that?” And then everyone is like “Oh, OK.” People’s attention spans are very short these days. I think people get exhausted by the idea of being quiet for the whole set, so I try to trick them and do just little quiet sets in between. Volume dynamics can be part of the sticky strategy.

 

O — What’s the best noise you’ve ever heard? 

 

AD — Today I was on a boat and the wind was humming in my half drunk beer bottle, and I harmonized and sang with her sweet hum. 

 

O — Do you find music sexual, erotic? 

 

AD — I find words and language incredibly erotic, and I think that there is music in speech and in the unique expression of each individual’s way of talking—their cadence and tone, their melody, their noises. So I feel like the scales and tones of harmony in music are not as far as we think they are from the dynamics of speech. Yes, music is encompassingly sensual for me. It enters my ears and tickles the microscopic follicle cells that send direct information to my brain, coating my experience with itself. It encourages the body to move, thus for blood to flow—and the blood flows, baby. 

 

O — What is your ultimate fantasy?

 

AD — It would be to see patriarchy crumble! 

 

O — Sometimes things occur that leave us feeling naked, totally stripped. Has that ever happened to you? 

 

AD — I don’t think I’ve ever completely felt that way on my own. I have only felt that way when I was sharing too much of myself with other people that weren’t giving back the same energy. I’m over that trap and will never get caught up in that sticky again. I love family and relationships, but I will not be taken advantage of—except if I have kids of course. [laughs] Those bloodsuckers will probably suck me dry. Not planning on that anytime soon though, if at all. 

 

O —What song would you pick to soundtrack this interview? 

 

AD — Says by Nils Frahm. 

 

O — Can you name five things that got you most high? 

 

AD — 1. Making things 2. Being in love 3. a really good (sleeping) dream 4. LSD 5. Yoga and dance.

 

O — Were you ever addicted to anything?   

AD — I’ve never been addicted to anything, except for one incredibly talented, sexy boy in particular... And songs—the songs I love I could listen to on repeat for days. Then when I go back to them again, they become time capsules of nostalgia, which becomes intoxicating on a whole other level. This nostalgic bubble snowballs into a very potent emotional injection.

 

O — Do you ever think about how it will all end up for you, do you think about death?

 

AD — I’m not scared of death. I’m excited about the future and life’s mythic surprises. I never want to be too comfortable. Too much comfort wrecks the intellect. Pain is my teacher. Loss is inevitable. I want to feel. The honest answer to the first part of your question is no, I don’t really think about how it will all end up for me. I’ve never found it to be very constructive to gaze too far into the future. I was too worried about the future in points of my life when I was plagued by fear.

 

O —What’s the best thing you’ve learned about life so far?

 

AD — Fear is the mind killer. – END  

 

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