During the last edition of the Doom Over Lepzig I had the pleasure to interview an interesting ambient project from the US. I had a nice chat with Rob Fisk and Andee Connors in a cloudy and cold afternoon, in a bar not so far from the UT Connewitz in which the festival was going on, and I had the chance to discover more about this collective, the ideas of the musicians about music and society and how much they are entangled together.
In the description of your Facebook page is written that you are “the opposite of Trump administration”. I found it quite funny since the project has some time right now and Trump is not so long at the government.
Rob: His administration stands on everything we are against: they are misogynist, racists, extreme capitalist, homophobic, transphobic, climate change deniers. Since arrived in the oval office, he made everything in his power to phase off the environmental protection agency and slow down internationally the fight against climate change. He already started to work on laws that target trans, gays, to attack our friends. He already bombed Syria, threatened North Korea building the root of WWIII, and he is an horrible person. I still can’t believe he became president.
Andee: We are embarrassed about this fact. None of us believed he could have any chance, we were pretty comfortable: ” He will never win”. And then he won. We were devastated.
Rob: But anyway that is why we decided to write this statement in our Facebook page. Politics is kind of a grey area and we would like to be pretty clear about what we stand for.
It is strange to hear from you guys that you thought for sure he was about not to be elected. After some months, do you have an idea why he made it?
Andee: The popular argument is, there was this huge chunk of American people that felt removed from the entire political system. Obama, Clinton spoke with them in a language they did not understand. Trump was a popular figure so appealing to people of the lower class struggling with unemployment. But the more I think about it the more I don’t believe in this argument. A lot of these people quickly realized they made a mistake. A lot of Trump electors are suddenly felt the effect of this politics: they quickly lost the health insurance, they cannot afford renting housing anymore. It is hard not be cynic, I mean is difficult not to see since the beginning that this guy was a sexist, homophobic asshole that pursues its own interested and also, is a billionaire. Then I don’t get why these people did not see it before voting. American felt enough comfortable to trust him, even if his propaganda was not consistent. For example, he is so strange that is against immigration but all his stuffs are made in other countries, but he has country clubs and hotels in Mexico.
It is interesting to see your view about politics, but does it reflect also in your music? Is there a social and political message attached to it, or is just a tool that you use for a second purpose (like for example, donating the outcome of sales to indigenous community, as you did for one of your old release)?
Rob: We released three records in order to help Alaska rescue organizations to stop gold mines proliferation, since it will have a huge environmental impact. There is also the concern about a lot of outsiders that will come in this area to work and live, destroying local traditions with their western culture. This is an important topic for us, and that is why we released two records last year talking about extinction, not just “biological” but also cultural. We are active in multiple ways, we are energetic conscious human beings and artists, and we are politically oriented supporting community and traditions.
Andee: For us music is a sort of meditation but also it motivates people to do something. We like to inspire with our music but doesn’t mean we can do more with it.
How did you develop this awareness about how important is the natural life, not just considered as environment related but also as preservation of millennial cultures?
Rob: We are lucky to leave in a beautiful part of world and me myself I travel often to Alaska. Since 2000 I spent some time there, for considerable long periods. This for sure raised our awareness, but we also realized it in a more philosophic way.
If you think about one of the main religion in the world, maybe you can have a better idea about what we talk. In history, Christianity worked very hard to separate men from nature. People used to have a relationship with the landscape, but this religion broke this bond, and also demonized wild nature. Actually it demonized everything that could not be completely controlled, and that is why there is a parallel between wilderness in our body/sexuality and the nature. Even if we are not so in contact with religion in these days, we are under the influence of its believes: that is why always a deep dark forest is normally considered scary. For us nature, wild nature regains its original essence, the one we used to associate before human over structures modified it.
Andee: People are instinctual to nature, it doesn’t matter if they are looking at few trees or a deep ocean, and everyone has this kind of awareness. I believe you can always feels something when you are in contact with nature, but is true that in the current time we don’t value, and sometimes we forget, to raise this awareness in ourselves. There are people that have lost the connection with the reality around them.
How the people can find back this connection?
Rob: It is not difficult. For example, we were just coming here and we noticed a bunch of birds doing these amazing symphonies. Then you realize that nature is there, just hearing these songs you feel connected with it. But is also true that is not so simple for everyone. With our music we try to make this connection, but is the single person that has to make it deeply inside itself.
As far I can understand, the project is full of meanings and ideas. I believe this is also reflecting in its name. Which is the meaning of Common Eider King Eider and how was born?
Rob: I found the project in 2006, deciding it would have been the last music project in my life. I was tired to start bands. The normal loop was to start something with a bunch of people and see them leave after six months. They were always busy. I was tired to rely on other people and the idea to commit to just one idea. First I started solo but from the third release the band started to be an open collective, so everyone could put the efforts and time they wanted. For example for this tour, I arranged everything by myself and then I sent an email to the others asking who wanted to join.
Andee: Last time we had a six weeks tour, the first two weeks we were in three, the second one in five and then we came back to two. The music is different depending to who is involved of course, but is also fascinating how it can change and the whole structure is flexible and suitable for the needs of everyone.
Rob: The name is the opposition between the words common and king: something should be “less important” respect to the other according with these two meanings, but both of the animals, the eiders associates with them, are just beautiful creatures. It is strange that someone labeled them with these kind of values, but actually it happens also with people, so…
Let’s talk about your last release Shrines for the Unwanted, Respite for the Cast Aside“. What is behind?
Rob: Last summer we were in tour and we were thinking about extinction and we were concerned about politics and the consequences it would have in our society. We started to interrogate about our intentions to do music and how to inspire trough vocals and give energy during the performances. We started to use sticks and rocks on the mics, round them together to create certain sounds, and we really like it. During the performance these objects started to acquire significance, and after every show we decided to built a shrine with them.
Andee: We took pictures about the places in which we toured and we built these shrines, we created a book of images and we created a set together with some sticks to create its own shrine.