Warehouse Eyes: I'm going to do this completely viscerally
Warehouse Eyes collaborators Christopher Williams and Jennie Lahlum have been dating for quite some time. In fact they're now engaged, but up until two years ago, they'd never considered making music together. Christopher half jokes "It took me about a year after we started dating to convince Jennie I was a good songwriter."
With the help of Colin Sheffield on guitar, Jay McGlone on drums and Kevin Scott on bass Warehouse Eyes' new EP Carvings paints a vast and haunting scoundscape. Christopher and Jennie were able to sit down with Gimme Noise to discuss their EP before their release show Friday at Turf Club.
How did you guys meet?
Jennie: We were long distance and I was living in my hometown [Chicago] and not doing anything that I cared about really. Why not just start somewhere else? So I moved out here and it worked out. You can get along well with somebody in small doses and never know what it's like to be with them 24/7. I think the awesome thing about our relationship is that he works nights and I work during the day. We don't even have an opportunity to get tired of each other. Every time I see him is a really special treat.
Christopher: Which is why I'm drinking coffee and she's drinking beer. [laughs] Kevin our bass player was someone I knew as a high schooler and Jay, Colin and I played in a band together [Heartbeats] very briefly. I also played in a band called the Big Strong Men, but we never really did the heck of a lot. It was very Americana rock 'n' roll, so it worked better in small towns in Wisconsin than it did in Minneapolis.
Jennie: That's the band he was playing in when I met him and I actually hated the music. So I was a little apprehensive about starting a project with him.
Christopher: I forgot that actually. It took me about a year after we started dating to convince Jennie I was a good songwriter.
Jennie: Yeah. He's not exaggerating. But once he left that band, he became less influenced by that music. It was a pair of songwriters in that band, so once you became a solo entity it was the real Christopher Williams.
So if writing this type of music is fairly new to you guys, what new skills did you learn in the process?
Jennie: I'd never played the synth before this project. It's been a new experience for me and I like it. I think on the next project I'm going to try experiment more on making my own patches. Chris did a lot of them this album.
Christopher: I love synthesizers. Synths really open up a whole other world. They're just amazing. Instead of playing with melody, you're mostly playing with timbre and creating your own instruments for songs. That's why the recording process is so powerful, because you continue to learn new things.
Jennie: There's kind of a nerdy tech-y aspect of synthesizers that doesn't really draw me. I think I needed the experience playing it first to be able to get the inspiration to learn how to create it. That's how my brain works. I think the other thing we've never done before is mess around with found sound which is something we're trying to move in the direction of. We want to do a lot more found sound manipulation on our next album.
Christopher: There's only a little tiny bit on there. From "Lullaby" to "Through the Glass" we actually put a lot of found sound in there. That's a simpler song, so there's this need for 3D-ness to it. It's a woman reading a story to her child, an air conditioner and a sink at my friend's house that made some pitches. I really like that kind of stuff. We almost didn't manipulate it that much because it was this bridge between songs, but I'm interested doing more.
What types of obstacles have you encountered with the way you write music?
Christopher: One of the risks with what we do is that Jennie has a pretty voice and a lot of times lyrically it can be a little maudlin that things get too pretty. Sometimes it's not the moment you want to create.
Jennie: It's been a real journey for me to work on that. You [Christopher] really challenged me a lot. I'm thankful for it. I have such pretty jazz/classical roots so much of it is on how elegant you can be. I feel like it's the opposite of this. I want it to be part of the texture, but sometimes the texture isn't pretty, it's ugly. So I have to suit the texture but also maintain a cohesiveness throughout the rest of the song.
Christopher: I wouldn't change the timbre of her voice, but it's like constructing the songs around it so your immediate reaction isn't "this is pretty." For some people, that's all they ever want music to be.
Jennie: Is that always the goal in music? Do we always just want things to be beautiful angelic and ethereal? That wouldn't be the reality if people weren't using music as an outlet for expressing their emotions.
Jennie, did you train as a vocalist?
Jennie: I did. I trained classically. I studied in Vienna for a semester and that's when I realized I didn't want to sing Opera. It was always a possibility, but in the back of my mind, I knew I was going to do alternative stuff. Like new classical music, but something that really expands beyond typical tonal classical music. That was kind of where I was going to box myself into. All the while I was doing these tiny side projects with my roommates and loving that so much more. It felt so much more natural. I don't know why I didn't think I could just do that.