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Interview with Lymbyc Systym

img  Tobias

Hi! How are you? Where are you?
Hello. I am well. I live in Brooklyn, NY. Mike, my brother and the other half of Lymbyc Systym, lives in Austin, TX.

What’s on your schedule at the moment?
After our European tour, we’ll be doing a few shows opening for Broken Social Scene in the US. Also, we’re putting the finishing touches on our next full-length record.

You’re about to embark on a long European tour. How much have you been looking forward to this?
I’ve been looking forward to this a great deal, as this will be Lymbyc Systym’s first European tour. We we’re originally going to tour Europe with This Will Destroy You back in October but unfortunately had to cancel. We feel very fortunate to be able to make up most of the dates so soon. Matthias at Dial Booking really worked hard to put a great tour together for us.

As a duo, you will probably not be able to play every single part live on stage. How are you coping with reproducing your compositions on stage? What kind of equipment are you using?
On the albums, we obviously play lots of different instruments, but live I play keyboards and Mike plays drums and glockenspiel. A key part of our live sound is the Hohner Clavinet, which is a German keyboard made in the 70s. People often mistake it for a guitar. In general, we like to keep things simple, and let the musicianship speak for itself. I use very few pedals. We have a minimal amount of sequenced programming running, as well.

When arranging songs for the live set, we make sure that all the major melodies, bass lines and drums are played live. We sequence some crucial background parts and then cut anything extraneous. Live, we are never just sitting there. We are both constantly working as much sound as possible out of our instruments. For the electronics, we perform in such a way that the sequenced parts become a natural extension of the live parts, instead of the other way around. There is nothing more boring than watching a performer twiddle knobs on stage. So, we stray as far away from that as possible.

Our lives shows are really raw and high energy. It’s obviously important for a band to sound solid on stage, but the most important part is making the music powerful. That is how you connect with the audience. One of the most common things people say about our live set is that it sounds like there is a whole band onstage. There is quite a lot two people can do if you apply your energy correctly.

In which way is there still space for improvisations in your current sets – or do you prefer a tightly choreographed approach?
We treat the live show as a meditation. We play the same notes every night, but there is always something new and insightful that we gain after each show. Likewise, there is always a different feeling each night, specific to the audience and city we are in. In my eyes, composition and improvisation are not opposites. There are infinite ways express yourself within a set structure. So, while our live show is indeed composed, we really like to focus on emotion and subtleties. It’s similar to acting. The are a million ways to subtly express yourself within a series of rehearsed movements and dialogue.

What can you already tell us about the set list for the upcoming gigs?
We’ll be playing songs from Field Studies, Love Your Abuser and Carved By Glaciers. We may even throw in a song or two from the upcoming full-length.

You have a new Split out with This Will Destroy You. Was contact established through Magic Bullet Records or was it a project you and TWDY planned yourself from the beginning?
I can’t remember who specifically initiated the process, as the idea for the split came together very naturally. TWDY are great friends of ours, and we’ve toured together extensively. We both have the highest respect for each other’s music.

Were your contributions to the split essentially loose tracks or did you consciously conceptualise them to form a sort of miniature suite?
Last January we recorded a bunch of new songs at our friend’s studio in Philadelphia, PA. We took three that went together particularly well for the split, and the rest will be on our full-length. Our criteria for picking songs for the split were to find songs that would work well with TWDY’s style, but would hold their own and have a story to tell. In the end, I think it definitely worked out, and it has the impression that it was composed as it’s own mini-suite.

Was there any kind of tentative communication with TWDY prior to recording “Field Studies” on which direction the music should take or were you both allowing yourselves to be surprised?
Well, we’re friends. So, we’re always in communication. We had talked to each other about ideas, but there was no formal plan of any kind. As I said, we both really respect each other’s bands, so we had confidence that everything would come together in its right place.

What is it that you personally enjoy about the music of TWDY that makes them a good fit for a Split?
I think the split showcases two different directions bands can take within a similar framework. We share many influences and similarities that feed off of each other, but overall, the music sounds very different. What I personally like about TWDY is how they embrace minimalism in a way that it is still very full and emotional. It’s minimalism with maximum balls.

Other than the “Field Studies” Split, are there already plans for a new full-length?
Yes. As I said, it’s just about finished. We feel really good about it. The new songs build on elements off the split, but it definitely take things in a new direction. John Congleton will be mixing the full-length, as well.

You’ve allowed befriended acts and colleagues to remix your “Love Your Abuser” album. How satisfied were you with the results?
We we’re incredibly overwhelmed by and satisfied with the outcome. In the same way that our split with TWDY came about very naturally, the remix album was also a very organic process. All the remixes were made by our friends whose music we have the highest admiration for. We gave no guidance on how we wanted them to sound. So, basically, we put a lot of faith in our friends, and we were not disappointed. I really think the album holds its own.

Have the results of the remix album been an influence on your own songwriting in any way?
I’m sure they have to a degree. Every song I listen to influences me in one way or another. I don’t have a formal song writing process, so I can’t say definitively how they’ve influenced me.


Could you envision taking the idea of the remix project a bit further and directly collaborate with other acts either in the studio or by file exchange in the future?
We are always collaborating with friends. So, yes.

The media are of course always quick in drawing links between different bands and genres. On the other hand, there are obviously other groups who share similar approaches and aesthetics. In which way, would you say, do you feel attached to a “scene” and directly inspired by what other, befriended acts are doing?
Everyone is quick to draw links between things, not just the media. It’s the way our brains are wired. At the same time, I don’t think I feel attached to a particular scene. We have toured with and befriended many bands of various genres I am inspired by so many things, both musically and in daily life. It would be a travesty to limit my scope.

As a band, it is important to establish a community of friends and fans, but it is also essential to make sure that your community is diverse, caring and open to change. That’s what makes for good people, lasting friends and interesting music. Ideally, I am always keeping that in mind and finding ways to make our music connect with as many people as possible.

By Tobias Fischer

Picture by Amanda Longtain

Carved By Glaciers (Space Camp/Magic Bullet) 2006
Love Your Abuser (Mush) 2007
Field Studies (Magic Bullet Records) 2008
Love Your Abuser Remixed (Mush) 2008

Lymbyc Systym
Lymbyc Systym at MySpace

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