Tom Wincek of All Tiny Creatures talks Justin Vernon, art, and cassettes
Gimme Noise: Where do you draw inspiration from when writing?
Tom Wincek: The inspiration usually comes from whatever process we are dealing with at the time. Whether that's cutting up guitar loops into small bits, or dealing with open tuned guitars and the melodies they can make.
What comes first, the lyrics or the music?
When there are lyrics, it's always more to do with how words sound, and the texture they can lend to the song, rather than casting a clear narrative structure.
What do you look for in other artists when you collaborate?
For Harbors, we got lucky in that many of our friends also happen to be fantastic vocalists. In the circle of artists and musicians I know and am friends with, we all have a deep respect and admiration for each others work, so whenever anyone can help, we are more than willing to do so.
You've worked with Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) quite a bit. What's your favorite part in working with him? Why do you feel you two work so well together?
I've known Justin since we both lived in Eau Claire, and met him through Brad [Cook] and Joe [Westerlund], who are now Megafaun. I like that all of those guys are totally normal and grounded human beings, who happen to have extraordinary musical abilities, and a deep sensitivity to sound.
Is there someone you'd love to share a stage/collaborate with?
Sure, but for the time being I feel extremely lucky and satisfied to be working with the musicians I currently am. There are people I'd love to work with, but it would have to happen organically in order to feel right. Can't force anything.
You've been in the music business a long time, so it's clear that creating and playing is important to you. Is this new album with All Tiny Creatures your ultimate goal?
No, I wouldn't say that. We've been working toward this album for a very long time, and it feels good to finally have it out there, but there's also a shedding that takes place every time you release a work, and a restlessness that comes with that. We're already creating new music and plans, with no desire to stop or rest.
More and more artists are leaning towards the trend of giving their music away for free and simultaneously releasing special editions. All Tiny Creatures did this for limited editions of Glass Bubbles on cassette; what do you think of this trend? What are your thoughts on an industry where the music is almost a valueless commodity?
We thought the Cassettes (there's another cassette built around An Iris too) would be a good way to showcase the "singles" from the album, while still creating something new and unique. The Cassettes are built around 2 album tracks, but they're mixed with 20 minutes of material that we wrote very quickly, and mixed all of it together. It definitely feels like people expect "more" these days in terms of what you can provide, but that's a great opportunity to keep creating work.
How did you come up with the aesthetic for the Full Harbors art?
That was 100% Sara (the head of Hometapes) and Aaron Draplin's realm. Again, ATC is very lucky to be collaborating with artists that have a deep sensitivity to sound, and they did a wonderful job of translating the texture and feel of the music into a visual form...
Where did the idea come from to release on cassette?
From Sara and Adam of Hometapes. They thought it would be a good way to showcase bits of the album while sort of widening the scope, and creating something intimate and special. Tapes are special in the way that you can't skip around them, really. It's a more linear experience, which lends itself to our music well, but is sort of antithetical to the way people listen to music now with the internet / blog culture. That really appealed to us.
What's the eventual direction for All Tiny Creatures?
To keep working, creating, and following our vision.