Deerhoof - interview with Satomi Matsuzaki

Photograph: The Grizzly Life

The interview I did with Satomi for Dazed Digital is up, here. She was kind and funny and so easy to talk with. Like West Coast sunshine on skype.

Deerhoof, the master craftsmen of gigantic sonic question marks, are about to release their 10th album (on Polyvinyl/ATP Recordings), and their idiosyncratic approach to pretty much everything has meant the tracks are being leaked, one by one, to various websites around the world. The album’s site deerhoofvsevil.com features a Hulk-green world map with bright pink stars showing the date and location for each track’s outing. Thus No One Asked to Dance will be streamed from extravaganza.cl in Santiago, Chile, on Tuesday, January 25th, 2011… There are 12 tracks and the leak will take 12 weeks. This global percussive drip feed has created a sense of almost old-fashioned, pre-digital anticipation – and cemented the band’s reputation as unfettered by, well, anything. Their sound is free and bold – a skittish, hot-wired stylistic explosion, that just makes you want to dance.

How did you come up with this slow-leak idea?
We have been discussing what to do with album leaks for a long time. This time we thought why not just leak it ourselves, from all over the world. It’s going to happen anyway, so let’s make it more exciting!

You’ve often done similar things – like posting up the sheet music for Fresh Born, or the remix site for The Runners Four... Do you like the idea of fans playing with you?
Everyone has such a different understanding of music. We are open to anything, although actually playing music with the audience might be a bit difficult … But we like the idea of encouraging people to get interested. It’s a fun experiment with people we’ve never met.

Was the recording process for this album different than for your previous albums?
This time we really did do everything ourselves, without any sound engineers. Also, we all started playing drums. We wanted to focus on interesting rhythms – we used lots of percussion and samples. We mixed the songs on the car stereo while on tour.

Which songs are your favourites?
I like Behold a Marvel in the Darkness – we’ve been playing it on tour and I feel like I have a deeper understanding of it. I also like Qui Dorm, Només Somia. John wrote it and I like the medium tempo, and the climax. The guitar playing is clicky, twinkly, very rhythmic. I sing in Catalan – a friend of mine offered once to help me translate lyrics into Catalan. And I was like, well, I’ve never sung in Spanish before.

Do you enjoy collaboration?
At the moment Greg lives in New York, I live in Tokyo, Ed lives in Portland, Oregon and John lives in Alburquerque, New Mexico and we all have different side projects. Coming back to Deerhoof, everyone seems even more open-minded.

Do you have images or stories in your head when you’re writing lyrics?
I like to stick to simple, direct ideas, the first thing that comes to my mind. I like children’s books, like the Moomins – things that are very positive and happy but also have a dark side.

Are there artists or film-makers you find inspiring?
It’s hard to pick one film because I like so many! It all comes in a big ball and spins in my mind, and you know how when you are about to die, all of your memories come rushing through your head? – I sometimes get that feeling and the images inspire me to make music. It’s really dream-like. I recently saw a Rebecca Horn exhibition in Tokyo. There was this huge piano hanging from the ceiling, which falls apart, making a huge, dissonant sound – a better surprise than a haunted house!

Photograph: Sarah Cass

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