Yesterday we brought you a glowing review of Memoryhouse’s debut The Slideshow Effect. Here’s a brief Q&A with Evan Abeele, producer and multi-instrumentalist with the band which covers everything from Ontario lakes to musical influences and even a bit of hockey talk.
First things first (I have my priorities in order) if you could have your listeners enjoy The Slideshow Effect while sitting in front of any lake in Ontario (something I feel the album is ideal for), which one would it be?
Evan Abeele: Oddly enough, I think The Slideshow Effect’s album cover was shot at Guelph Lake. Either that or Elora Gorge, though I believe it is Guelph Lake, so I guess that would probably be the most ideal place to take it all in.
Another hyperlocal question, since you’re from the Toronto area (pardon my municipal jingoism) what is your favourite Toronto venue to catch a show in? And subsequently, where would you most like to perform?
EA: It’s a tough call, but I think El Mocambo and Massey Hall are my favorites. I’d love to play Massey someday…
Last Ontario-centric question: What is the arts community in Guelph like, and what has kept you there?
EA: It’s a wonderful community, which has seen some incredible bands form I the past 15 years. The annual Hillside Festival is the big arts celebration, it’s pretty great. On the whole, I was always more of a solitary person, so although I have a deep appreciation for the community, it was not something I engaged directly with very often.
Slideshow adds a lot to the sound you honed in your EPs, was that a conscious effort or something that came about naturally with releasing a full album?
EA: I think it was just a natural transformation from touring. Playing live really helped develop our dynamic. I was conscious about moving our sound forward, but I wanted it to be done in an organic way, and not simply adhere to generic signifiers or trends.
Is it fair to say you listened to dream-pop bands like Galaxie 500, Cocteau Twins and even My Bloody Valentine, as your sound would suggest?
EA: I like those bands. They’re pretty hard to not like, though I haven’t listened to them in a long time. I haven’t been in that headspace as of late. I think once people started recognizing us as dream-pop or whatever, I more or less stopped listening to it entirely out of fear that we would become a shell of those bands. Those bands are terrific,it’d be a shame to disgrace their legacy, so to speak.
Following that up, which artists or albums do you love that would surprise listeners?
EA: I think I like pretty traditional pop music. I mostly listen to old music, I’m not very up to date on current bands, unfortunately. I listen to a lot of movie scores and soundtracks. I really enjoy Woody Allen’s soundtracks.
You’ve churned out a few videos over a short span, do you think the move of media from television to the web is good or bad for music videos?
EA: It’s tough to say. I guess when it was all centralized on television, it became more of an “event”. You’d anxiously wait for the premier with your friends, and it’d just be this thing you did. Now that so much is web-based everything is more accessible, and you can browse on your own time, which is great, but you do lose a bit of what made music video premiers such a special, communal experience.
As your name is borrowed from Max Richter’s debut, do you have any plans to release more experimental music like that of Richter?
EA: I released a solo E.P. last year, called Lineage, under my given name. I haven’t worked on much since then, Memoryhouse has more or less become a full-time pursuit, which I’m pretty thankful for.
Some of the lyrics on your debut speak of a certain “end of a long relationship” malaise, would that be a misinterpretation or was that the catalyst for some of your lyrics?
EA: I think that we use personal relationships as a metaphor for personal conflict/growth. There is no specific relationship, and I think the songs I’d consider to be “relationship songs” on the album (Bonfire, Walk with Me) are positive/hopeful. Like, with Animals, the narrative is framed as a relationship; a scorned lover addressing their past romance, but it’s actually more of a internal dialogue between the speaker and themself.
Neil Young or Leonard Cohen, for Prime Minister. You must choose one, and expand, if you will.
EA: Leonard Cohen for sure. It’s difficult to really put into words. I think if we cold get Cohen as Prime Minister and Springsteen as President, the world would start to really find its way.
And lastly, for fun, since I noticed you tweet about hockey a fair bit, what team do you back and why? My condolences if the answer is Toronto.
EA: Thankfully I have no affection for the Leafs. I do quite enjoy seeing them do well, but only because everyone around here is so invested in them; I want the Leafs to do well for those people. I’ve been a lifelong Rangers fan. My favorite player growing up was Mike Richter. I used to mail him birthday cards, and I always wore a New York Rangers jersey to school…like every day. They took a nose-dive in 97/98 after losing the conference finals to Philadelphia, and it really started to kill hockey for me. They were just an awful team for nearly 10 years, but since the lockout, they’ve made a lot of progress. They’ve had a great run so far this season (leading the Eastern Conference, and owning the best win percentage in the league). It’s been validating , to see them do so well again.