Chuck Schuldiner Project

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Interview with Emma Ruth Rundle from Marriages (April 2015)

On tour promoting their debut album released a couple of days prior, Marriages made a stop at Le Trabendo, offering Parisian fans a chance to experience the bands’ freshly released material in its live rendition. I was lucky enough to catch up with lead singer and guitarist Emma Ruth Rundle before the show for a small discussion regarding the bands’ evolution as well as their latest release.

So you started off your European tour with a date at Roadburn festival in the Netherlands, how did that go?
It was great!I didn't know what to expect but it was better than I had hoped. It was packed and pretty hot, and there was good energy there.

Did you get to catch any shows while you were there?
Well, wanted to catch some bands but the thing was that all of the rooms were so packed. Also, we had many friends playing there, and I think for me it would all take away from the festival to see friendly faces: Russian Circles, Helms Alee... Just getting to catch up with our friends in another country is a good experience.

Helms Alee actually played 2 days ago in Paris, they were amazing!
They're one of my favorite bands, not because I know then. I've loved that band for a long time.

So this is your first time in Europe, right?
It is Marriages' first time in Europe. Greg and I played in Red Sparrowes together and we've toured Europe before.

Have gotten a chance to tour as a solo artist yet? Your solo record "Some Heavy Ocean" was actually one of my favorite albums of last year!
Why thank you very much! I haven't done any European tours as a solo artist yet but I would really love to though!

Let's talk about your latest album with Marriages. Earlier this week you released your debut full-length album "Salome". Could you explain the album title for us?
Salome is a biblical character. She exists in and outside of the bible. People have done a lot of artwork based on her story. The gist of the story, what I take away from it at least, is about this woman who was the daughter of Herodias, the princess of the Herodian Dynasty of Judaea during the Roman Empire. She did a dance for the king Herod which pleased him so much that he asked her what she wanted in return, and she asked for the head of John the Baptist, which she then received.
The reason why we chose to name the record this way was that I felt that beyond the small story of Salomé there is a lot you could add to it, as far as being sort of a Femme Fatale figure. I was thinking of her in the way of the Whore of Babylon also. There's a power in the sexuality of it but also violence. The lyrics on many of the songs sort of tie in with this theme. There's also a lot of content based on personal experiences that were routed in those sorts of emotions of torn sexuality, violence and betrayal. And then the artwork of course just made sense, with this woman and her interpretation of a dance.

With regards to your solo effort released last year which also delved into very personal subject matters, are there any differences regarding your approach to writing lyrics for this album?
With Marriages, we all write the music together, so I guess on this record it just captured the period of time when I sat down and wrote the lyrics for the songs. It was about capturing that period of time and what I was going through then. Everything from Some Heavy Ocean was written prior to this, and I think the music on my solo record as being a little more intimate, evoking more direct and obviously more emotional content. I think that in Marriages it's slightly more removed. To the listener I don't think it's going to be as impactful as songs like Some Heavy Ocean in that kind of "lyrical" way, if that makes any sense.
We didn't write the record around the idea of Salome really. She just sort of appeared as a guest, saying "I am the figure that will represent the music on this record", and it made sense. There's a lot of ground that gets covered, but it mainly centers on some personal matters. I just like to draw elements from stories that I find powerful and that make sense to me. 

Compared to the debut EP "Kitsune", "Salome" marks somewhat of a shift in the bands' formula towards more "traditional", "concise" song structures. Was this a conscious effort?
Well yes, as far as what you touched on with the shift in the songwriting, there was. The first EP was more similar to Red Sparrowes in that it's longer, we wrote the whole thing as one long piece of music. Getting back to this record, we did make a choice to adhere to more traditional song structures. We also wanted the vocals to be more present, less as a texture as it had been on Kitsune. So yes, that was a conscious decision.

Regarding the vocals, I found the vocals on your 2 latest records to be somewhat clearer, more focused. Could this be the result of working and touring as a solo artist?
I don't really know... I get asked this question and I'm not really sure. Nothing is different for me. I always sing to myself or when I'm writing music. I only just released a solo record on Sargent House Last year but I've been in many bands that no one's ever heard of for years, since I was eighteen, maybe even younger. So for me it's not so different. Well actually, for Kitsune I wanted the vocals to be more of an instrument, a texture. I think that what we're hearing now with Marriages are vocals with less effects going on, but there's less masking of the voice with the reverbs. Before that, I was using a formant shifter and a lot of extra things that would take the clarity away from the vocals, which I like in music. I like vocals that sound that way. When I'm listening to music I like dreamy textures, but I think that it doesn't work so well for what we're doing now. Especially with how loud the band is, those kinds of vocals are impossible to do live. That was one thing that affected it, touring with Marriages on Kitsune and trying to sing some of the quieter parts. There was no way to cut through. I was having a lot of trouble using this vocal pedal that I had that was the sound of Kitsune. Every sound-man hated me for having it and it just caused a lot of problems so I decided to stop using it. 

Do you see any differences between touring as a solo artist and touring as a band?
Absolutely. It's completely different. It almost like having two jobs. The difference would be that the solo stuff, at first, was really scary. I've played music with Greg for a long time and he's like my safety blanket *laughs*. So when he's not there... at first I didn't know what to do and I was afraid. But I became aware very quickly of how liberating playing alone is. When I tour solo I don't bring any band, just an electric guitar. I also don't have to play the song the same way every night. When I was performing Some Heavy Ocean live, ever night it could be different. I get caught up in the emotion of the songs and I let that dictate how the music will go. I'll change the songs around, add older songs no one's heard, new songs... I kind of do whatever I want and it's really nice, as an artist, to be able to do that.
To some degree there's some improvisation that's allowed, which is nice and it keeps things very "real" I think, emotionally impactful. So it's also "unrehearsed" in a sense. Sometimes' its' not always to see a band who's played that same song forever the same way, it just doesn't hit you the same. Luckily people, I think that people that have come to the shows are very open to hearing things this way. I have had some people disappointed though, people saying "I wish that you had played this song" or wishing that I had played it the way it was on the record. I think that's the minority though.
Playing with Marriages, in a band, is a different thing. It's a group effort. You're dealing with the dynamics of different personalities and different musicians coming together. So you add some variables.
And then also every tour is different. I miss them when they're not around but I like being alone too "laughs". But being in this band, I'm very lucky to have the opportunity to continue playing music with Greg after Red Sparrowes ended and to have Andrew now, because he's my favorite drummer to be in the band. 

To finish things off: could you name one of your favorite books, albums and movies?
One of my favorite books: The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
Album-wise I always say "Siamese Dream" by The Smashing Pumpkins, that's one of my favorite albums. But I say that in every interview, so I'll say "So" by Peter Gabriel, that’s' also one of my favorite albums.
My favorite movie... I love movies so much, I don't know...
I guess Spirited Away is one of my favorite films. I've probably watched it fifty times, maybe more, so I'm going to go with that.

Thank you to Vince from Kongfuzi booking, Sébastien from Differ-ant, Sargent House as well as the band Marriages for their support and hospitality without which neither this article nor the interview would've been possible.

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