Friday, June 24, 2011

Interview with Heinali and Matt Finney

In a world of stagnant post-rock and metal bands, everyone either ends up sounding like ISIS or Explosions in the Sky. It's a total bummer and a real pain, but it really helps the original and unique bands shine. International duo Heinali and Matt Finney, hailing from Kyiv, Ukraine and Millsbrook, Alabama, respectively, combine Heinali's immensely well-composed "doomgaze" with Matt Finney's miserable, at times morbidly humorous spoken word passages. I should probably review their next album, "Ain't No Night," sometime soon.

Since you both live on other sides of the world, how did you two meet? What made you decide to collaborate?

Heinali: While I was sleeping, in my dream, David Lynch suddenly appeared. He appeared and stood there silently, inside my dream. I felt like I knew he should say something important to me, but he was silent. Then I felt like I should raise my left arm. So I rised my left arm and suddenly David Lynch spoke, although his lips weren't moving. "Good day today" he said. "I'm looking in the mirror, but you should look for Yennif Ttam". "Ok. Yennif Ttam? But that just makes no sense, David Lynch", I replied. He said "I know" and I woke up. I was lying on a bench in a park next to a bottle of some kind of cheap whiskey. The only thing that was running in my head was this strange "Yennif Ttam", so I decided to write it down. I always carry a pen with me, but this time I couldn't find any paper so I wrote it down on my left arm. What does it mean? What David Lynch was doing inside my dream? I went home and thoroughly thought about all of this, but couldn't come up with an answer. It went to the point how they usually do in 80s b-class movies when protagonist is haunted by video-overlay hallucinations. I went to the bathroom and washed my face with cold water. And, as I was looking in the mirror, suddenly I could read the mirror reflection of this strange words that I wrote down on my hand. It was "Matt Finney". I should look for Matt Finney. And the rest you know. 

Most collaborations are normally one-off projects that go their separate ways, was "Heinali & Matt Finney" originally a one-off project or did you have larger plans set out from the beginning?

Heinali: Yes it was a spontaneous one-off thing. If I'm not mistaken, it was after the "Lemonade", since this collaboration brought a whole new field to explore, which was new to us, and, I guess, generally new, we've decided to call Heinali and Matt Finney a separate project. 

How does songwriting work for you two? Do you, Matt, write your prose first and Heinali composes based upon the tone of the prose, or is it vice-versa? Considering your prolific output, how long does it take for you two to put a song together?

Heinali: Yes, it's this way exactly. Matt writes, then I compose based on what he writes. The amount of time to make a song varies a lot. It could be anywhere between a couple of days and a couple of months. It depends.

After self-releasing "Conjoined" late last year, we've seen it re-released on Paradigms recordings, as well has the forthcoming album "Ain't No Night" on the same label and yet ANOTHER album to-be-released on Handmade Birds. Has the outside influence of a label affected the way you both approach your music? How does it feel to have gone from the DiY aesthetic to having material released on labels?

Heinali: I guess not many things are changed. Of course if we were to produce electronic/idm release we couldn't release it on experimental metal label, so in some aspects, yes, it frames the view. But since our attention now lies in this "heavy" music field anyway, it makes no difference. The good thing about labels is to know that your music, which you're working on right now, will be shown to the world. It's a bright contrast to that awful state when you understand that after working on music for days and weeks and months, pouring yourself out completely, going crazy of loneliness and of feeling all that, you could just throw your record in a trash can in the end, because if you have no marketing skills and resources all the people who would listen to the record are your friends and a couple of strangers.

Matt: If anything I think it makes us work harder to make something amazing for the label to put out. The only thing I worry about is no one buying it after the label invests so much money into it but that's just me.

This one's more for Matt - Your writing style is unique, bleak, and miserable. Who are some of your literary influences? Are you reading anything right now?

Matt: They're kinda limited since I don't read anywhere near as much as I used to. I hate that but there's not a lot to choose from at the public library here and I like to have a book I can hold in my hands. Raymond Carver is the biggest one. Another that's come along in the past few years is Cormac McCarthy (big surprise, right?). I'm currently diving into Neil Gaiman's Sandman series. I just started The Doll's House last night and I'm about half way in. It's really fucking with my mind.

For Heinali - Compositionally I can hear echoes of 80s industrial, post-punk, post-rock, and modern classical in both your solo material and collaboration with Matt - what/who influences your composing style? How does a Heinali song come into existence?

Heinali: Oh too many things, too many names. I'm a passionate music lover. To narrow it down I would point out some names which influenced Heinali and Matt Finney "Conjoined" and "Ain't No Night" sound in particular. Such as The Angelic Process, Nadja, My Bloody Valentine, Dalek, Nine Inch Nails, Godspeed You Black Emperor!, Merzbow, Coil, Joy Division.

This year has been pretty hefty for releases - what are some 2011 favorites from the Heinali & Matt Finney camp? Anything you are both excited to hear later this year?

Heinali: I'm a bit lost now amongst the 16th century madrigals, so I'm not paying much attention to what is happening in the music right now. Unfortunately. I hope one day I'll go through all the 2011 prominent releases. The ones that made their path through anyway are Tim Hecker's "Ravedeath 1972". I shouldn't even mention this one, everybody is talking about it. And they should, wonderful, absolutely wonderful and intelligent work. The second one is "A Static Place" by Stephan Mathieu, a deep, almost sacred work of sound art. 

Matt: My favorite release this year would have to The Inside Room by 40 Watt Sun. I'm not even sure I can give this album the praise it deserves. It just about knocked a whole through my chest and I haven't been able to stop playing it. Some others that I'm in love with would be Tunnel Blanket by This Will Destroy You, Veins and Night Glitters by Slow Head, Dynamite Steps by The Twilight Singers, Act of Shimmering by Jannick Schou. Our friends Sleepmakeswaves have an album coming out in July and it's gonna knock everyone's heads off. Definitely look out for that one. I'm also excited about Elsie from The Horrible Crowes.

With distance being a variable, what is the probability of a Heinali & Matt Finney live show? If you were to perform, how would you envision the show overall?

Heinali: Unfortunately, the probability is very low. Not only because of the distance, this is is much more like a financial problem. I'd love our live show to kick ass and have some ideas to make it so, but again, it depends on so many things. Right now it's difficult to tell anything about it. 

Matt: The probability is low right now but it's gonna happen. Mark my words. Either that or I'll relocate over there. I got nothing going for me here and Slavic women are gorgeous. I don't need that many more reasons.

Anything exciting or new you would like to share...or maybe some closing words?

Matt: We're working on our album On Mercy's Shore for Handmade Birds. We have some really exciting ideas for it and we can't wait to get it out there. Ain't No Night comes out in August from Paradigms so prepare for the takeover with that. There's gonna be a short film collaboration we're doing with our director buddy Freddie Lloyd and we have some projects stretching into 2012. Super busy but that's how we like it.

Keep your eyes out for "Ain't No Night"'s official release on Paradigms Recordings this August.


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