Looking Backwards While Moving Forwards: Interview with Slim Twig

Slim Twig Slim Twig

Article by Taous Fazoui

Slim Twig (in another identity known as Max Turnbull) is described as a “Toronto protean musical force.” He not only spans the styles of the musical universe, but is quick with his film references, including one l’Oncle Serge would have approved with his Gitanes cigarette nod.

Taous Fazoui (TF): You’re performing at Casa Del Popolo on Thursday and with U.S Girls Friday. Are you planning on more tour dates for 2014 or solely focussing on your next release?

Slim Twig (ST): Although we’ve come up with a new set featuring never-before heard Twig tunes, we have no other tour dates. Both Meg (Remy) and I are deep into new records, and pretty focused on those. These few shows are just a good excuse to get out of the house for a few days.

Slim Twig Station

Slim Twig Station

TF: Can you tell us how you discovered Jack Name, and if the very enthusiastic entry you made about him on your blog and how your recent gigs will lead to a musical collaboration in the future?

ST: I actually only discovered his music from being asked to do two shows with him. His record has quickly become a favourite, so doing the shows seemed like a good idea. There’s actually so very little pop / rock / tune-based music these days with real original character or personality, let alone strangeness which his record has in spades. I’m just a fan, so am stoked to share a bill.

TF: You posted on your blog excerpts from a Trish Keenan interview about the difficulty of defining psychedelic pop. How do you place yourself in “that psych band continuum” that Trish Keenan refers to?

ST: Very modestly. Although I think all the music I have made up to this point can be broadly defined as “psychedelic” in that much of it expresses a desire to seek new sounds, I haven’t always made music with that terminology in mind. I divide my “career” into two eras up to this point. Music made before I felt deeply indebted to a (again, broad) history of “psychedelic” or mind-expanding music and music made after. My music making has always been driven by my love for music. When that passion switched gears from an interest in predominantly modern made music (a lot of hip hop) to exploring strains of older exploratory genres the context of my own music also changed. My desire remains to make as modern and particular a sound as I am capable, but I now consciously emphasize those elements that might jar or otherwise remove a listener from the mundane.

TF: Can you tell us about the making of the soundtrack for Hubert Sauper acclaimed 2014 documentary “We Come as Friends?

ST: It was a pretty solitary process. I’ve spent the last few years trying to engage collaborations for the music I make as Slim Twig; this is the exception to that approach. I spent a lot of time alone at a bank of synthesizers trying to conjure sad, anxious and unobtrusive sounds. It’s a different approach from my song writing in that I don’t feel any pressure to make engaging melodic aspects and instead spend my energy on constructing “vibe based” music that can contribute to an overall moodiness that seems appropriate for the images I am trying to match. I’m glad to do this kind of work as it encourages a more improvisatory or looser attitude that my regular music doesn’t always employ. In turn this can keep me open and sharp towards the other styles of music I end up making.

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TF: What are your favorite directors right now and who would you pick from this year’s Oscars nominees for a soundtrack collaboration?

ST: I don’t keep up with contemporary cinema as much as I might like to. Like most other people with eyes and awareness, I really like P.T. Anderson, Michael Haneke, and the Dardenne Brothers. I’m excited for the new Jonathan Glazer movie. I hate the Oscars, but if I could choose a collaborator from among the nominees it would be Joshua Oppenheimer whose The Act of Killing is one of the most incredible movies I’ve seen recently.

TF: Are there movies that you admire because of the mastery of their soundtrack?

ST: I am a huge fan of Peter Greenaway’s films, in large part because Michael Nyman’s music on a string of those films is so wonderful. I would also recommend people checking out all the soundtrack work that Serge Gainsbourg did once upon a time; his Cannabis LP is a big time favourite!

Slim Twig plays with Jack Name and Brave Radar at Casa Del Popolo (4873 Boulevard Saint-Laurent) on March 13. 8:30 p.m. 8-10$. He also joins U.S. Girls on March 14 at Casa Del Popolo.