As we take in every experience, we respond to it by building something new with it in our own minds, and reflecting it out.
– Hallowed Bells
Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?
HB: Currently, we both reside in West Philadelphia. Darian grew up in Central Pennsylvania but has been living in Philadelphia for 11 years. Alison grew up and went to college in Maryland, then lived in Washington, DC for a few years before coming to Philadelphia three years ago.
What does Reflection and Response mean to you?
HB: We both agree that for us, the more relevant definition of reflection is that which deals with reflecting out. We both believe that nothing that we create truly comes from inside us. Every idea that we have is a synthesis of other things we have heard, seen, and done. As we take in every experience, we respond to it by building something new with it in our own minds, and reflecting it out.
How does your work fit in with that definition?
HB: Because the music of Hallowed Bells is written collaboratively, the two of us are always reflecting back and forth off of each other, responding to, transforming, refracting and mirroring each other’s ideas.
Alison: Also, whenever I write a piece of music, it is because there is something that I can vaguely imagine, that I want to be able to listen to, but can’t quite find. So I have to make it myself. Sometimes the ideal that I’m going after is really general, but sometimes it can be a very specific reflection of, and response to something that I hear in a piece of music that already exists. I’ll hear a brief musical idea that I like, just a pair of chords, a short rhythmic figure or something, but wish it had been developed more or used in a different way. I’ll remember these specific sounds I wish I could hear, and then, when I write my own music, I draw ideas from what I wish other music sounded like, and reflect my own version back out, eventually made so different that it seems to bear no resemblance to the things that inspired it.
What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?
HB: We just finished recording, mixing and designing our first release, which is a cassette EP that will be released this summer, and we are setting up our first tour to go along with that.
Alison: I am studying to become an electronics technician and we’ve both been spending a lot of time fixing old electric organs and building synthesizers. After the tour, I am hoping to start a larger-scale synthesizer project that I have been thinking about for a long time, and which will probably end up taking a pretty long time. The plan is to start with one of the old combo organs that we know and love, and transform it into a modular paraphonic synthesizer. We’ll probably be recording some more Hallowed Bells music after the tour as well.
Darian: I also run a record label called Edible Onion and am always really busy with that. Most of the releases involve elaborate, handmade packaging so it’s very time intensive. I’m also working on a film score for a friend’s film, and I have another music project called Still Sweet and plan on finishing a full length this year for that. It is mainly a recording project at this point, though I would like to create a live lineup once the new songs are done and do a tour.
Who or what inspires you?
Alison: I am always inspired by hearing music that sounds unusual and challenging but that doesn’t sacrifice aesthetics and is still enjoyable to listen to: music that is doing what I want to be doing. Occasionally, when I go to a really good show or hear a really great record, I actually get so excited and inspired that I get anxious to start playing music myself, which actually disrupts my enjoyment of what I am listening to!
On a personal level, I have to admit that I am really inspired by people who take an interest in our music. We know some people who seem genuinely interested in what we are doing and that’s really exciting to me. There have been times when I have felt like no one wanted to listen to the kind of music I wanted to make, and it’s nice that there are at least a small number of other people listening now.
Darian: I feel like some of what inspires me is how I react to the world around me and what others are doing. I started my record label, Edible Onion, partly as a reaction to how oversaturated the music world had become in the wake of the internet. The same problems exist now so I’m still inspired to trudge forward in my own way.
The reason I make music or art though is much less critical. It’s something I have to do and it’s inexplicable. I try to make the music that I want to listen to and it’s rooted in my own sense of aesthetics. I think I’m usually inspired by artists who approach their work in a similar way, people who seem to have a never ending drive to just keep working no matter what, even if the world has moved on to something else. When I see older musicians who have been doing it for 20 or 30+ years and are still able to make something new and interesting I find that very inspiring and I hope I can keep it up for as long as them without losing something along the way.
Is there anything else you would like the Collective to know?
HB: We would just like to say thanks for featuring us on your blog and giving us a chance to share what we have been doing!
Reflection and Response.
I was surprised to see there aren’t any other posts on the blog tagged “modular paraphonic synthesizer”!
(Is it gauche to comment on my own feature?)
Thanks again guys!