AUTOreverse #14, summer 2011
Carrie Hodges aka
Ian C Stewart
HOW/WHERE/WHEN WAS OLD RECORDED?
Old was recorded when I was young, in various ways and places, from 1991 to 2003. I was 18 when we recorded the two earliest songs on Chris [Reider]’s crappy second-hand 4 track. We were living with my parents at the time, in a claustrophobic little room. Life kind of sucked. But that was 20 years ago, and I don’t remember much other than being incredibly self-conscious. When Chris had me improvise some singing over a track of his guitar playing, it was nearly impossible for me, and I was practically crying by the end. For the other early song, he and I sang into each other’s mouths. I can only describe it as a kissing didgeridoo. The feeling of the vibrations is what I remember.
10 years later I bought an old 4 track Tascam. I had a fairly solitary life – I worked alone as a janitor, and spent a lot of time walking, or at home alone. During this time I sang a lot to myself. I had some delusions of greatness and fantasized about recording stuff on my own. But even with no one watching I was still really inhibited and awkward. In addition to this, a couple of the 4-track’s channels bled together, and it made a loud squeaking/churning noise as it played, which can be heard on some of the tracks.
I would sit at the kitchen window and record. We had a basement apartment, and the windows looked out at ground level. I loved watching the spiders in the grass… it was my favorite place. In the morning, the sun would shine in and make dreamy shadows on the side of the refrigerator. A couple of years passed before Chris uploaded this stuff to his Alesis digital 8 track. He added some delay, etc., and mixed them. Being technologically inept, my input was fairly minimal at this point. Although I told him what I intended for the songs, and made him go back to change the things I didn’t like, much to his frustration.
In 2003, I started playing with a couple of computer programs (early XX and MetaSynth). If I remember right, I liked XX because the interface depicted each sound as a different shape, and each track was a different color. I was playing with color and the pattern of the notes. I messed around with the time signatures somewhere in the middle, which kind of messed things up… so it goes.
“Song #11” was from a recording I did in 1989(?). Chris manipulated it and made it what it is. You could say it’s more his song than mine, but I’m happy he let me use it. I couldn’t have done any of this without his help, and I am very grateful to him.
caerie – shadows from my old kitchen
WHY WAS OLD RECORDED?
To express something through sound… All I ever wanted was to just let go, but my timidity always got in the way. For the song “Narrow Stairway of Stone,” my intention was to press the record button and just scream. Instead, all I could do was whimper. With the effects added it sounds scream-like, but it’s only an inhaled squeal, like Blixa Bargeld. It was a real let-down, the fact that I couldn’t just let it out. But I was experimenting and everything was pretty much improvised. I would sing a snippet and then change channels and record on top.
I don’t know what these songs are, if they are more expression, desperation, or trial and error. As is my norm, by the time I actually got the hang of it all, I lost interest. Every few years I’ll try recording something new and have to learn all over again.
WHY IS IT CALLED OLD?
It’s old. In fact, it’s so old that I hardly recognize it as coming from me. Otherwise, I doubt if I could handle the fact that people are listening to it.
DID YOU MAKE THE COVER ART YOURSELF?
Yes. It’s a little tile. A piece of accidental art. I mixed up some aborted strands of plastic clay, and it ended up looking like an animal person from a dream or some faerie tale.
WHAT OTHER ARTISTS INFORM YOUR PROCESS?
I guess my “process” is to just fiddle around. Anything I’ve done that’s been calculated hasn’t worked out too well. Plus, I think that playing around or improvising brings hidden things up in a way that purposeful acts just can’t do; any musical influences surface subconsciously or indirectly.
I think what has encouraged me to record is not necessarily “musical”. For instance, the song for my mother was inspired by the way she yawns. And drones are a very big inspiration for me. The sound of a vacuum cleaner. A refrigerator. A milling machine. You can find a song in any of these sounds- it’s like magic. In fact, we had a very clunky and loud dishwasher that may have inspired me more than anything. I like how our brains interpret and perceive these things. As a teenager, I remember Chris playing some tapes in the other room. I was thinking how wonderful the songs were, but when I went to see what he was playing, it turned out to be something completely different than what I had expected. So I kept listening from the outside, hearing/interpreting something different and making something new out of it. The oldest track on Old was directly influenced by a Beatles song, and how I interpreted/misunderstood the lyrics as a four year old girl. These strange misunderstandings fascinate me.
But there were several bands/albums that I found highly inspiring back then: Area’s “the Perfect Dream”, Ataraxia’s “Symphonia Sine Nomine”, Eyelight. I recently listened to some Tall Bald Grandfathers songs, and they influenced me far more than I had remembered. Regretfully, the musicians that touch me the most seem to discourage me more than they actually inspire me to record. When I hear something that sounds profound and meaningful to me, I feel like there is no point in trying to express myself through recording, because someone has already done it for me.
CAN YOU TELL US SOMETHING NO ONE ELSE KNOWS ABOUT OLD?
This thing has been sitting around exactly as it is for almost 10 years. Also, Chris is the one that mixed down most of this stuff. If I had mixed the singing tracks 10 years ago, they all would have sounded very different.
DO YOU HAVE ANY MORE RELEASES PLANNED?
I have a ton of old tapes (ancient) and a few new ones. And I would like to learn Cubase. I sing and fiddle with instruments every day, I just have a hard time being recorded. If I do, it will almost certainly be another hodgepodge of awkward recordings.
WHAT DID I FORGET TO ASK YOU?
I don’t know. I feel like I’ve said too much already. I would like to run away and go hide now.
Download Old here.
thank you, Carrie! I know it wasn’t easy.