An Interview with Siskiyou – Colin Huebert

Photo by Lindsey Hampton

Canadian-native, Colin Huebert takes his listeners on a hike through the outdoors of homegrown sounds as he and his Siskiyou band (Shawn Watt, Peter Carruthers, Erik Arnesen) offset low beats and strings with a tinge of digital folklore. Borderline proverbial, the mellow appearance of this spontaneous quartet brings about the nostalgia of The Magnetic Fields or the freshness of Sóley together in what they say is not folk, but rather,“more sinister here, in the sound, in the words”.

Drawn to the rawness of mystic allegory, their recent album Keep Away The Dead reflects a switch of lanes from start-up band to star-bound brilliance. Their daunting lyrics paired with serene vocals, reminiscent of a campsite reunion, capture a taste for up-tempo poetry.“These are songs about death, but not in a self-serious Gothic sense. There is an agnostic and gorgeous resignation to this album, at once atheistic and hymnal”, as the musicians refer to their work.

When asked about their eclectic approach to generating sounds (old AM radio tuners, an electric guitar sans amplifier), Colin responds, “I know what I think sounds and feels right and I do my best to render that.” Collaborating with Dave Carswell, they released Keep Away the Dead in early October setting the stage for nomad-friendly (but sound-aggressive) melodies striking gold with their lofty hit “Twigs and Stones.” From that outta-town drive to a late night grind, a little Siskiyou jam can go a long way.

(The following written interview with Siskiyou lead, Colin Huebert amidst the band on tour. By Angela Gleason)

AG: What is the fundamental message Siskiyou aims to consistently project through their music (socially, politically, artistically, culturally)?

CH: There aren’t really any fundamental messages we try to project. Things tend to happen a bit too spontaneously with this project to have a prime directive of sorts. Obviously the music has to stand up artistically to end up on a record.

AG: How much of your surroundings (much of your time has been spent growing and working in and around Canada) have influenced your music style?

CH: I feel that the circumstance of life informs the music more so than our physical surroundings.  Don’t get me wrong, canada is beautiful, but i’m not sure where it is in the songs.

AG: You have some rather eclectic uses for generating sounds, do you go into music composition with a sound vision before experimenting, or is it safe to say much of what evolves is merely chance? 

CH: Both.  Sometimes I hear exactly what needs to happen before any recording begins. Other times you just have to stumble around some.

AG: How would you compare music today versus 20 years ago in general? And particularly the music of Siskiyou, are there elements of past music that you aim to extract?

CH: Unfortunately I don’t really listen to contemporary music all that often and I didn’t exist in the music industry before the rise of the Internet, so it’s tough to compare. I’m sure there are goods things about both.  I’m not a fan of the role the singular song has taken in modern times.  When everyone is just trying to write hit songs all you end up with is rubbish.

 AG: Your influences, inspirations and driving forces?

CH: I’m listening to the Jesus and Mary Chain’s “psychocandy as i’m writing this sentence. It always blows my mind.

AG: What do music lovers have to look forward to after the recent release of Keep Away the Dead?

CH: I think we are probably going to try to play a few more shows before we do any more recording.  I’m going to spend the month of February in the Yukon as part of an artist residence program. Hopefully the 19 hours of darkness each day will help with things.

AG: Most memorable performance to date?

CH: I think for me playing the autumn falls festival in Brussels is definitely in the top three.  We were kind of on the outskirts of town and I didn’t really expect anyone to show up, but then at the last minute it filled up and became this really kind of rambunctious show.  I think at one point two audience members were holding Shaunn’s drums from falling over, all the while he was going ape shit.

For more info on Siskiyou, including music and stories, visit: http://siskiyouband.com/news/

Photo by Yannick Grandmont

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About Angela Gleason

visual designer | writer | pianist in the basement | painter in the night | fashion critic | lush | Italian savant check me out: www.taxisandwalnuts.com