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15 Questions to Labirinto

img  Tobias Fischer

Hi! How are you? Where are you?
We’re doing good! We live in Brazil, so the weather here is very nice right now ... By the way, I hope our English is not that bad and you all can understand us!

What’s on your schedule right now?
We’ve just finished our first international tour, which comprised of eleven shows in the USA and Canada, and now we’re planning a second tour for next year. We were selected for Toronto’s Canadian Music Fest that will happen in March 2012. Also, over the next months we’ll be writing the new album, which is already partially written right now. We’ll begin the recordings next year. And Labirinto still has some shows booked here in Brazil until the end of this year.

How would you describe and rate the music scene of the city you are currently living in?
To be very specific, when it comes to post rock, there is no music scene at all here. Yes, there are some rare projects, instrumental, ambient or something of the sorts. But there is no scene in Brazil for this kind of music and this really makes us sad. The good projects that exist here don’t tour much, don’t have their music available in record stores (sometimes they only release virtual albums) and don't release albums that often - mostly because the alternative music market in Brazil is not as well developed as it is with popular Brazilian music or our traditional samba.

When did you start writing/producing music - and what or who were your early passions and influences?
We (me, Erick and Daniel) started playing together in 2001 in other bands, more to do with post-punk and hardcore at that time. Labirinto was born between 2003 and 2005, but we consider that after many years of experimentations the band developed its own personality and got in the direction we wanted in 2009 with the EP Etéreo. After that we started to work more and more to have the new tracks sound more as though they were imagined. So, if it is needed to take two years to record an album, we’ll do it to achieve the final result that is in our heads.
We have a lot of influences from classic post-rock bands, soundtracks, metal and experimental music. Some important bands/artists for us are Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Mogwai, Explosions in the sky, Ennio Morricone, Neurosis, Isis, Bathory and Clint Mansell among many others! There are other bands that were important in terms of our musical formation, but they don’t influence the kind of music we make in Labirinto quite as directly – take  Dischord releases (Fugazi, Jawbox…), Swervedriver, Filter and many others, for example.
We also like to pay attention to everything that we're exposed to and take advantage of other elements besides the sounds itself during the production of our music, like movies and books.

What do you personally consider to be the incisive moments in your artistic work and/or career?
The release of the Anatema album, which happened last year (2010) and the double vinyl in March this year. We committed ourselves completely to this album in a bid of attaining the quality we desired for the songs. After releasing it, we had many positive reviews and we accomplished the first international tour this year.

What are currently your main compositional- and production-challenges?

This month we are finishing the new track “Cairo 432” which will be released on the European charity compilation CD for the victims of the natural and nuclear disaster in Japan earlier this year. Soon we’ll begin the pre-production for recording our second album. And all work is 100% taken care by of ourselves, from the online store on our website to the booking and producing our shows and recording our records. I understand that our biggest challenge is to produce the kind of music that we do in our country with so many adversities!

What do you usually start with when working on a new piece?

Usually Erick, the band’s composer, will bring the new songs. Together with one or two members of the band we'll make the arrangements together. With regards to some instruments, we work on them during the pre-production phase using a computer and a virtual instrument, like the sitar, a trumpet or any other special instrument that we don’t have in hands for composing. But this happens only for composing and arranging, because we invite musicians to participate on shows and recordings. We still believe in the organic sound of a real instrument!

How strictly do you separate improvising and composing?
Labirinto has few moments of improvising, especially at live presentations. We always play our concerts as a single, continuous piece, so between the tracks we have some improvisation, creating textures and different moods with guitar layers drowned in effects and synthesizers. As for recordings, we work a lot on the tracks before getting in the studio so random ideas are always good. But we usually have in mind a very clear idea of what the tracks should sound like.

How do you see the relationship between sound, space and composition?

Space inflicts directly on the relation between how sounds are put together to create a musical composition. I mean, we live in a big and crowded city, we are immersed in tons of information, visual signs, noises and even sounds of Brazilian instruments every day. And we’re in a country that is very different from yours so we have different ways of thinking the music. All of this influences the result of creative work, of how people use sounds for expression.

Do you feel it important that an audience is able to deduct the processes and ideas behind a work purely on the basis of the music? If so, how do you make them transparent?
We seek to transpire pieces of ideas, feelings and not the entirely concept that is in our minds during the process of producing the album, referring to the Anatema abum. Sometimes it’s more interesting to have a story in hands that is not totally written down in every word. It’s like when you tell someone the beginning and the end of a story, the person keeps thinking about the middle, like “what happened there?”! And I hope that many imaginative minds create their own versions of stories for Anatema.

There seem to be two fundamental tendencies in music today: On the one hand, a move towards complete virtualisation, where tracks and albums are merely released as digital files. And, on the other, an even closer union between music, artwork, packaging and physical presentation. Where do you stand between these poles?
For sure we prefer the second hand. (haha!) Well, the Internet’s speed for spreading information really helps on a new album promotion or when a band is just beginning to put music online, but when you have a closed package, concerning a nice artwork that corresponds with the music on the CD, on the digital file it all tends to be consumed in a most superficial way. Sometimes people don’t even see the cover of an album before listening! I still prefer to have the physical copy of a good album in hands to enjoy it fully.

The role of an artist is always subject to change. What's your view on the (e.g. political/social/creative) tasks of artists today and how do you try to meet these goals in your work?
Artists have access to people’s mind and hearts, artists can be opinion makers when the audience is paying attention to them. So I think that we have an important tool in hands that is our music, and we must take advantage of it for what we believe is important to be told to the ones around us. We admire other bands that use creative ways for showing their believes, and we try hard to have some concepts assigned to our work and engage ourselves in social matters. Especially in Brazil - a third world country, with so many people not receiving proper education and no life quality standard. Even in the creative business, we must work (a lot!) for a better working environment for musicians and artists in general. Unfortunately, we still have some bad remnants of the dictatorship period in our country from fifty years ago.

Music-sharing sites and -blogs as well as a flood of releases in general are presenting both listeners and artists with challenging questions. What's your view on the value of music today?
I think that music is becoming a little bit more superficial every day. It is now much more a trivial accessory to life than a way of living your life. For the very same reasons that we have much more access to all the new releases, we can’t decide what to listen to anymore, and sometimes we choose to listen to it all preventing ourselves the pleasure from immersing oneself only in a single piece. People today avoid spending the time required to listen to a record ten times and absorbs all that it provides. I still prefer listening to just five albums a year than flooding my hard drive at once without truly listening and paying attention to anything.

How, would you say, could non-mainstream forms of music reach wider audiences?

I believe that today’s music is built on small and medium audiences. Mainstream bands crowd stadiums and sell tons of merchandise at shows, online or whatever. I think smaller bands should aim at the same, but in smaller proportions. Build a solid and conscious work. And the best way to do it nowadays is using the Internet (the same one that can hide us among so many other amazing bands, so contradictory!). But it’s true, if we can use the tools for communicating with the audience that has a real interest in our work, and do it everyday a little bit, like putting stone over stone, in some time there will be a good career built. And of course play a lot, make shows, meet new bands and grow the circle of people that have common interests. In Brazil, I think there is no other way for doing an honest work than this.

Please recommend two artists to our readers which you feel deserve their attention.

There are two Brazilian duos that I highly recommend and that have an amazing musical work. One is “National” (not the north-american “The National”), they make experimental music and noises, it is a brilliant and intelligent sound. The second is “The Soundscapes”, they lived some years in Brooklyn/NY but the two brothers on the band are Brazilian. Their music is very influenced by classic alternative rock bands such as Trail of Dead and Superchunk.

Many artists dream of a “magnum opus”. Do you have a vision of what yours would sound like?
Oh well ... l… I have no idea! Our magnum opus might be lost inside one of Erick’s dreams! He composes even sleeping and wakes up singing a melody for a new song. It happens a lot. So I think ours will come from a dream …

Labirinto Discography:
Cinza EP 2006
Labirinto EP 2007
Etéreo 2009
Anatema 2010
Kadjwynh EP 2012


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