thisquietarmy interview

While writing the introduction to this interview,one thought kept popping into my head:"Better late than never."

No it didn't take me too long to write this.It took me too long to find out about thisquietarmy,a band that makes the kind of sound that droneheads and ambient fans dream about.It is at once ethereal and haunting,forever looming on a blue/grey horizon that you never quite reach.But considering that tqa mastermind Eric Quach is about to head over to Europe to blow minds with Nadja,plenty more people like me are about to say "Wait...who is this?" and scramble to find all the tqa releases they can.So all you Europeans lucky enough to see him live better buy him a beer,and try not to spend ALL your cash at Aidan's merch table (Eric has a surprise tour item for y'all).

Hammer Smashed Jazz:So, the band name...I really love it. What's the story behind it?

thisquietarmy: There isn’t any real particular story; it’s just a pretty accurate and personal representation of my identity and artistic endeavors. I’ve always been into the whole one-man army thing, trying to do everything on my own, being as independent as I can in every aspect of life. I’m also a pretty quiet person, I guess.

HSJ:What were you doing before you started thisquietarmy? Were you involved in any other bands prior?

tqa:I started playing music like 8 years ago and founded my first and only band, Destroyalldreamers in 2002. We released 2 albums on Where Are My Records in 2004 and 2007, and an 12” EP on Claire’s Echo (Clairecords subsidiary) in 2006. We are heavily influenced by 90’s shoegaze and early post-rock. The band still exists; we’re just on hiatus until we all re-center our lives towards it again... Without that hiatus, thisquietarmy wouldn't have gone that far.

HSJ:You strike me as someone who might have a background in the visual arts, or some sort of design. Have you studied art, and if so, how has that informed your music?

tqa:I actually don’t have a background in visual arts, nor have I had any kind of training in arts or music. I’m self-taught. However before I started doing music, I did a lot of painting and drawing. It’s as if I switched mediums of expression and left the visual arts behind to make sounds instead. Incidentally, it was to create visual and cinematic music. On the other hand, my visual arts have evolved into graphic design & artistic direction such as for album artworks, flyers, and merch-related stuff. I also make my own visual projections that I use specifically for my live shows, which I hope to do a DVD-release in the future.

My real background is scientific, I have a bachelor in mechanical engineering and I work as an engineer in the hydroelectric domain. I realized that while it isn’t exactly possible, my perspective of the “real” world is probably what influences my art and music the most.

HSJ:You seem to have found a kindred spirit in Aidan Baker. When did you first hook up with him, and how long did it take before you guys decided to work on Orange?

tqa:I met Aidan through my band Destroyalldreamers, I think he was the one who first contacted us and he had set up a show for us in Toronto with his band Mnemosyne in 2005, and we’ve kept in touch since. By then, Aidan was more involved in his solo career than with Nadja and I was only starting to take my side-project seriously. Tracks were sent back and forth in early 2006 and it took a few months of procrastination to finish Orange.

HSJ:You recently did another release with Aidan, but this time you guys actually jammed together right? Funny, even though the process (and the result) was different the final product still had that signature sound.

tqa:Yes, our newest album A Picture of a Picture (Killer Pimp) was played and recorded live and almost left intact. It feels quite bared and naked to me because I always hear a whole bunch of things that could sound differently and I personally like to explore the different possibilities in studio, to de-construct and re-construct captured sounds in various ways. It was sort of difficult for me to just to leave things as they are and relinquish that kind of control over the tracks. However I am proud of it because it shows exactly how both approaches to composition and recording have their worth, as much for meticulous studio tracking and live improvisations captured in the moment.

HSJ:I must admit that I was a bit late in finding your music... but my first tqa purchase was the Blackhaunter CD on Elevation. You have to tell us a bit about Boyd Devereaux. Sounds like quite the renaissance man.

tqa:Elevation is run by both Joe Greenwald and Boyd Devereaux, though I mostly deal with Joe. Having a hockey player involved in a record label for experimental music is just somewhat a cool and funny thing at the same time! In the same way, being involved with Foreshadow, a polish doom metal label - seeing as I don’t listen to metal much (though I can definitely see links with my stuff), just makes these kind of relationships quirky and special.

Anyway... after Elevation offered me a release, I did meet Boyd at one of my gig in Toronto a few months later. I never expected him to show up, but he said that he saw me in the show listing of the weekly papers the night of the show and decided to make an appearance, it was amazing! Apparently he really enjoyed my set and I think he was really glad to be releasing my album at that point. Joe told me that he had left him a half hour message on his answering machine, raving about it!

HSJ:The next release of yours I grabbed was the Christy Romanick book that you soundtracked. For me, having a book and a CD is like the ultimate experience. Its like liner notes x1000. What was the genesis behind that project? Will we see similar projects in the future?

tqa:Christy and I have been friends for a few years now, and we’ve always admired each other’s work. It was just a matter of time before a collaboration of this calibre was due, even though she had already contributed to a few CD artworks for me. Basically, she pitched me the idea and sent me the photos that would make the book, and I worked out a conceptual piece from them. Because I had recorded a lot of small tracks that were not necessarily of the same mood, I decided to split them into categories that would work in the context of the subject. The book is limited to 75 copies, and was recently picked up and re-released by Alien8 Recordings as a digital release only --- which includes the PDF of the book and an exclusive 15-minutes track to make it a full-length.

I really like the idea of combining visuals & sounds together, and taking on collaborations. There are indeed similar projects in the works; the most concrete one is with my friend Meryem Yildiz . She did photography for the last Destroyalldreamers’ album, Wish I Was All Flames, and she also contributed a set of thisquietarmy-themed photographs which will be included with the exclusive tour CD for Europe. She also sings on one track on Unconquered, so maybe I’ll have her sing more for her book as well.

HSJ:I really enjoyed the Hi My Quiet Tsar release, which is you doing all synth stuff. Is this a one-off thing or a continuing project?

tqa:It’s something that I started for fun when I acquired a Moog MG-1 on craigslist, but I’m not sure how I feel about this project yet. I guess because I haven’t put that much time into it, so I don’t feel comfortable to present it as a serious project. I’m still in my early phases of experimentation. I did the limited 3” release for an one-off synth-only performance, which I played under the name Hi My Quiet Tsar… but I decided to give it up for free as thisquietarmy, just to keep everything under a single entity. This is definitely a direction that I intend to explore more, at some point… or at least to use more synths in thisquietarmy’s music, which is 95% guitar-based.

HSJ:You also have a record label. Is the label still active? Also, why use the band name as the label name?

tqa:At first, I didn’t intend for the label to be an actual label, which is why I chose the band name as the label name, as a vehicle to self-release my first EP Wintersleeper. Then I thought I did a pretty good job with it, I had some distribution going on and the promotion seemed to be working, so why not help some of my friends who I thought deserved a release. That’s how I put out Shane Whitbread’s EP after mine, he’s the one who really got me into effect pedals and I’ve always pushed him to release some of his own work.

Then I met Elika, a boy/girl electro dream-pop/shoegazer duo from NYC, and released their EP – followed by the first TQA/Aidan Baker Orange EP. Next was Le Chat Blanc Orchestra, which features Mathieu Grisé the other guitarist from Destroyalldreamers with Pascal Asselin (Millimetrik), also drummer from Below The Sea (who is also on Where Are My Records). Electroluminescent is Ryan Ferguson, a one-man psychedelic ambient band from Hamilton who deserves much praise, we met on a Destroyalldreamers/Below The Sea tour and I did a release of his EP Measures, which is now out on vinyl via Black Mountain Music (everyone should get it - contact Ryan directly to get a copy). Finally, The Sales Department is Beef Terminal’s electronic-oriented/computer-based project, and Apillow is the work of Patrick Lacharité, also from Below The Sea (he also recorded the first Destroyalldreamers album).

As you can see, I’ve pretty much kept it in the family and I really wish I could’ve kept going and do more but I really lack time and energy, especially with my numerous projects and 40 hrs a week work schedule. Ironically, the label sort of took a turn back to the original intent as to release my own material at my own pace, such as for Hi My Quiet Tsar and the tour CD for my upcoming European tour with Nadja. I do have one future release planned: it’s a split for Elika and Auburn Lull, a ethereal space-rock band from Michigan (their Cast From The Platform album is among my top records). It will also feature remixes by thisquietarmy and it will come out this year hopefully.

HSJ:Favorite Sabbath song?

tqa:Um… I’m sorry to say that uh… I don’t have one. Haha. (Okay, here comes the boo-ing and rotten tomatoes).

HSJ:So,tell us about the future of thisquietarmy. I have to say I'm really hoping for some vinyl, maybe some cassettes at some point? Your sound seems perfectly fitted for either format.

tqa:Well, I’m about to leave for Europe to play shows with Nadja & Aidan Baker from June 1st to 21st in Germany, Italy, France, Holland, Czech Republic and Poland. This will be my first real tour and I’m really excited about that.

Collaboration-wise, I have a new noise-drone project with my friends Aun & Maggot Breeder (both ambient/noise from Montreal), we’re called Ghidrah and we haven’t jammed yet even though the idea was stemmed from a tag-team show that we did last fall. I’m also working on a collaboration album with Yellow6 from the UK, we recorded when he was in town back in march. There’s a whole bunch of other collaborations with other people in the works, but it’s too early to talk about.

As for releases, I am not rushing into anything at this point, having released 2 albums last year. I might have a CD release with Alien8 Recordings in the near future. I am definitely looking into putting out stuff on vinyl but I haven’t had any definitive offers for that format yet. I’m hoping that the European tour will open doors for offers, as much as for new releases as for the re-releases of Unconquered and Blackhaunter on vinyl… so heads-up to any interested labels! I’d also like to combine my first two EPs, Wintersleeper & Echotone with early rare comp. tracks for a re-release in CD & vinyl, but maybe it’s still early for that. Cassettes seem to be more for noise-oriented artists I guess, but I think it’s great that people still make them, and I’d be opened to them. I’ll just wait for the offers to come in after I finish my tour, and see what I can pick from. Hopefully opportunities will come knocking!


AK said...

after reading:

"HSJ:Favorite Sabbath song?

tqa:Um… I’m sorry to say that uh… I don’t have one. Haha. (Okay, here comes the boo-ing and rotten tomatoes)."

it is incredibly hard to read anymore of the interview.

i don't have the urge to boo or throw shit. it's a bummer. a soul untouched by sabbath is surely doomed.

Anonymous said...

Yes,Eric...please buy some Sabbath!

But I'm ok with it.Hey,to each his own.At least he didn't fake it.

I've always far removed from Sabbath is drone?