I don’t want to change or rearrange anything. If I could be successful at songwriting at all, I’d hope that what I came up with put a picture in the listener’s mind. I’d prefer to be an impressionist or even a Chuck Close to being a Jackson Pollack. Even though I envy that type of work.
– Mike Gervais
Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?
MG: I realized recently that I’ve experienced 21% of the entire history of Seattle as a life-long resident. Imagine the time elapsed since the Denny party first settled here- 163 years, as the price of your dinner date… My age is the tip. I suppose that I should consider this when lamenting the construction projects that seem to be replacing all of the old brick and 70’s architecture with steamy hot-yoga windows under impossibly expensive “mixed-income” apartments. I walk around mostly humming tunes and looking for plants coming up through the cement. Even though we’re so close to the mountains, it seems like it’s getting harder to feel that they’re so close. I think we could all use a good long walk up there.
What does Reflection and Response mean to you?
MG: I think a reflection is a response. I’m mostly about the tangible, equal-opposite reaction type of response. If light waves are bouncing on a puddle in the road, I want my music to be that reflection. I’m only looking for images that convey feelings. I don’t consider myself worthy of interpreting and translating events and relationships- I don’t want to change or rearrange anything. If I could be successful at songwriting at all, I’d hope that what I came up with put a picture in the listener’s mind. I’d prefer to be an impressionist or even a Chuck Close to being a Jackson Pollack. Even though I envy that type of work.
How does your song Aurora Borealis fit in with that definition?
MG: I work exclusively with my brother, Matt Gervais. Most of our work fits somewhere into the imagery=feeling spectrum. This is the first time I’ve had an interview without him, so I chose to highlight a song I can speak to more personally, Aurora Borealis. I tried to tell this story exclusively through pictures, and I normally look to nature for the best ones. The tide goes out twice a day and these squishy, delicate animals are exposed to the seagulls and the sunshine. You could write a thousand songs about that. Or the chaos of Saturn missiles going off on a dock at dusk in summer. I love the grandiose and the hopeless.
What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?
MG: Matty and I have been playing a ton of shows so far this year. We have a million little songs that are waiting to be finished. I’m really looking forward to getting out to a cabin or a campsite somewhere and writing these songs with him. I hope we can get into the studio in the next four months to finish them up.
In the meantime I’ve been writing and recording children’s music inspired by nature. It’s really fun.
Who or what inspires you?
MG: For the longest time I’ve been digging up old music from the library… Most recently it’s been Alan Hull and Jellyroll Morton. Before that it was Paul Robeson and Paul Simon. Hearts and Bones is an incredible album that is underappreciated Paul Simon at its best. It’s like proto-Graceland stuff… slightly too much 80’s production, but bad-ass songwriting.
Is there anything else you would like the Collective to know?
MG: Everyone should come to Timber Fest this summer. Timber is an outdoor music festival in Carnation, WA at Tolt McDonald State Park that’s currently in its second year. I went last year and had a blast. This year we’re playing along with J Mascis, Cumulus, Damien Jurado, Rocky Votolato and the insanely amazing Charles Bradley. The location is absolutely beautiful and they have astronomers with telescopes in the field after the music ends showing people planets and nebulas and the moon.
Shout out to…?
MG: The Head and The Heart for their music and their support of ours, Artist Home, the people putting on Timber Fest, our best buds Peter Fedofsky and Planes on Paper, both of whom are creating some of the most amazing music right now, and lastly all our friends in the Seattle music scene. We are blessed to live in a community with so many beautiful, kind and talented people sharing their music with the world. Thanks y’all!
Reflection and Response.