Sound Exposure: Quilt

Helen Grant

 

Anna Rochinski at Austin Psych Festival May 2 at the Elevation Amphitheater. Photo credit: Ricardo Saavedra

Lead Anna Rochinski of Quilt at Austin Psych Festival May 2 at the Elevation Amphitheater. Photo credit: Ricardo Saavedra

 

I had the chance to interview Anna Rochinski a few weeks ago in the lead up to Austin Psych Fest. At the time she was ordering more merch. Specifically they’d run out of shirts, which if you’re a band striking out there as business, this is a pretty good problem to have. Seriously “problematic” issues: losing your touring van in a wreck caused by a tire blowout. Anna said that put a lot of things in perspective for each of them and that they were grateful to have made it out of the accident uninjured. Once regrouped, they were not deterred and set out to raise funds to replace it on their website: quiltmusic.org. Given they were at Austin Psych Fest, it’s clear they’re a problem solving bunch.

Ironically because of traffic accidents that jammed up my chill ride to Austin, I missed their entire set by almost an hour or more. I grieved my loss, but not deterred, I managed to run into a photographer who had been at their set at the Elevation Amphitheater, and unless noted otherwise, all photos were taken by Ricardo Saavedra.

So there’s a skill to making things work out in the end, I think. And when I listen to Quilt’s music I think about the cycles of everyday life, and that seemingly mysterious way you can be gifted in enough ways to experience incredible highs yet manage to get kicked into the ditch with some unfortunate lows. It kind of leaves you soul searching.

With that in mind, here’s a small peek into the inner-workings of the band as filtered through the perspective of Anna Rochinski.

OKC.NET: What are some of your favorite bands you’re listening to right now?

Rochinski: Jessica Pratt, Gun Club “Cold Drink of Water,” I’ve been revisiting: Linda Perhacs’ “Parallelograms,” I’ve got a bunch of new jazz albums from my dad, like Miles Davis, that grew up listening to, and I feel I like I can appreciate it more as adult, Tom Petty, Kurt Vile, F.J. McMahon’s “Spirit of the Golden Juice.” I’ve been obsessed with his record for a year.

OKC.NET: Have you ever been to Austin Psych Fest before, either as an artist or attendee?

Rochinski: Yes, we played in 2012. And none of us had been ever before it, it was rad. I think the line-ups are always amazing, and it seems like a festival where artists are always excited to play it and look back on it with fond memories.

OKC.NET: Speaking of attending events, do you ever go to music shows like you’re not wrapped up in the business of it?

Rochinski: Yeah, it’s something that I don’t get to do much anymore because I’m always touring. And when you’re on the bill you have to be a responsible member. But I did go see that group, Tinariwen recently.  They’re like a sub-Saharan African band. They’re amazing. I was home for 10 days between our European tour and our American tour. We were trying to find a van, which was crazy shit all-day, everyday, so I decided I should just treat myself to a night out. So I got my ticket and went to Boston, and stood in line and thought “Omigod, I’m going to a show.” And it was really, really exciting. It was cool. Your perspective of it changes after you’re playing in clubs every single night. I was watching where their monitors were, where their pedals were, how the sound girl was leveling them out, but at the same time I totally got lost in the experience of it and had a blast.

OKC.NET: How would you describe your creative process between albums?

Rochinski:  Well there’s always going to be the same arrangements because were us, but situationally they’re very different records. The first one we still had Taylor with us, she was our first drummer. So that first record had a lot of Taylor on it. And we had just finished school, we were 22 years old, and feeling very open and future forward, you know very optimistic. The writing itself was a little more looser than our most recent album. Recording was sporadic. There was less nitpicking. But it was great. It felt like a mature step for us because we’d recorded wackier songs. We learned a lot about singing, together, and not hiding the vocals under guitars and reverb. It was like journal entry of a time period for us. Whereas “Held in Splendor” was recorded in one month very intensively, so like six days a week for ten hours a day. It feels like a very appropriate sophomore step for us. I think we all feel very proud of the album. It was a very concentrated effort. That’s how I think of it. Like the eponymous album feels like a cool glass of lemonade, easier to swim through, whereas the new one is concentrated and viscous like a tiny cup of molasses.

OKC.NET: What kind of visual art appeals to you? Like what catches your eye?

Rochinski: That’s a good question, because it’s never one thing for me on a personal level. When I was in school, I was really, really into realistic figurative oil paintings, like that was my first love with studying art. Portraiture, full body, depicting scenery in an observational way, but obviously putting your own touch on it. I was really into painters like Alice Neel, Peter Doig, Philip Pearlstein, those kinds of painters. I also started to explore more abstract paintings in school, like there is one painter named Kai Althhoff, from Germany, that I’ve always loved his pieces. There is so much character to his people. So that’s where I’m at in my relationship to painting, I like a lot of abstract elements but there is a lot of detail, like selective elements or people.  But we also all like a lot of different stuff and show each other a lot of different work all the time. We like animations, video art, illustrations, and cartoons.

 

ALICE NEEL

ALICE NEEL

 

PETER DOIG

PETER DOIG

 

KAI ALTHOFF

KAI ALTHOFF

 

 

OKC.NET: What’s it been like with Mexican Summer as your label?

Rochinski: Yeah, they’re great. When you’re diving into a new experience, like professionally, it can always be a little nerve wracking because you’re taking a risk. So when we first got signed to a label we were all excited, but there were also a lot of questions we had about how it would all work out. But honestly, it’s been very communicative and they’re really great people. It’s like a small office, but they had like a fucking party in Marfa, Texas for like four days in March. We were staying at house with a bunch of our label mates, and chillin and getting to know each other. It was amazing and it just showed me like how dedicated those dudes are to creating a unique environment aesthetically and musically, not only for their clientele, but their artists too. It felt like they were taking care of us. I just feel more and more lucky to be on a label with artists I really love. Like Conan Mockasin, for instance, is someone I’ve been listening to for years on my own, and I never thought in a million years we’d be crossing paths, playing shows together, and release records on the same label.

OKC.NET: How did you come to be on a lineup with Woods? Was it serendipitous or something you all had wanted to do for sometime?

Rochinski: Well, they are our friends. So we had been talking for awhile about touring with them. Jarvis recorded our record. Aaron, their drummer, has been in bands with our bass player Kevin for years. So yeah, it was something that had been in talks for awhile and they were going on this tour, and it all just worked out. And John is also playing organ for them.

 

Quilt at Elevation Amphitheater. Photo credit: Ricardo Saavedra

Quilt at Elevation Amphitheater. Photo credit: Ricardo Saavedra

 

OKC.NET: What are your goals for Austin Psych Fest, a great show is a given, but is there anything about the venue itself or in Austin that is on your must see or do list?

Rochinski: That’s a good question. We’ll only be there for a day. So honestly, just to play as well as possible and show everyone what Quilt has been up to and what we sound like now. And also go to Torchy’s and get a fried avocado taco, because it’s really fucking good.

OKC.NET: Do you plan to check out some of the vendors at Austin Psych Fest?

Rochinski: Yeah, that’s always one of the best parts of it. When we played their SXSW showcase at Reverb Records they had some vendors we checked out, like a weird book or a little necklace made of animals bones, and other things.

OKC.NET: What’s your most recent favorite item you’ve gotten at a festival, from the merch table to whatever someone gave you?

Rochinski: I guess most recently, when we played Strange Matter, a venue in Richmond, Virgina,  we heard they had a psychedelic flea market right before our load-in times, so we made sure to get there early to check out this so-called Psychedelic Flea Market and it was great. And I ended up picking up a book for $3 on automatic writing, which is something I’ve never heard of before, but I haven’t been able to put this book down. It’s like a form of divination where you practice tapping into a higher conscious by writing a page of truths down in plain English. And you ask questions, sort of like a tarot reading, but rather than using pictorial symbols, you’re just writing. So you do these readings with yourself, where you write freely in this altered state and then you snap out of it and you have a page of answers to your questions. And I was like “Ok, I’ve never heard of this. But yeah, it’s really interesting.”  And the author even said she was really skeptical of it at first when she was at some retreat in Arizona in the 80s and thought it was like complete bullshit, until she sat down with a partner and tried it out begrudgingly. Her partner channeled all these issues she was having with fertility, which she was going through at the time, and so she was hooked and wanted to share her knowledge in this book.

Like there was no immediate visual signs on the cover that this was a new-agey book, so when I first saw it I thought it was like a way of doing writing exercises, for making your writing better or journaling. But no, it’s about access a spiritual part of yourself through writing, like you have to ascend a certain level of consciousness.

The title is: “How To Do Automatic Writing”

OKC.NET: Who are you looking forward to watching at Austin Psych Fest?

Rochinski: I wish I could see my friend Doug Tuttle play, he’s on a couple days after us. I’d really like to see him play that festival because we’re just psyched that he’ll be there. Jacco Gardner, Temples, two European bands we know. We will see The Fresh and Onlys and Woods, because they play the same day. And we’d like to see Brian Jonestown Massacre.

OKC.NET: Will you be playing any surprise songs at APF, like perhaps some unreleased material?

Rochinski: A jam or two, but mostly material off the new album. We’re very much in the support run of “Held In Splendor.”

OKC.NET: Speaking of songs, I had “Young Gold” stuck in my head all last year. And although I hadn’t planned on it, I had this album from Barbarossa I wanted to spin in the CD player, I ended up listening to your self-titled album several times on the way to and from Memphis, anyway, do you have a song that’s so embedded in your psyche, it’s become a playlist staple?

Rochinski: Omigod, there are so many. I’m always that dude who makes playlists that keeps putting certain songs on every one of them and I have to force myself to not do it. Here are some songs that have been a big part of my life for several years.

Out of Nowhere- Nino Tempo and April Stevens
Salesman-The Monkees
I’m Going Home- The Swamp Rats
Big Barn Bed- Paul McCartney and Wings
It’s Not Easy- Ofege
The Empty Boat- Caetano Veloso
Sweet Surrender- Harry Nilsson
You’re Running You And Me – The Pretty Things

 

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