The Flenser Artist- Muscle & Marrow Interview is up

Interview by Kira Clark

1. Tell us a bit of the history of how Muscle and Marrow came to be?

I was living in Austin and had my heart broken. I moved to Portland and decided I had things to say so I learned a couple chords on the guitar. I wrote sad, pretty folk songs. I decided I wanted a drummer and my boyfriend, Keith happened to play so I made him play with me. It progressed from there.

2. The cover of Love is rather interesting - how does it play to the theme or story of album?

I'm very attracted to the idea of the proud older woman, the strong crone. I suppose I'm thinking about the kind of old woman I want to be, the kind that doesn't hang her head in shame at her lost youth and beauty but the kind that no one can fuck with. Of course it also seemed the perfect representation of my incredible grandma who passed away during the writing of the record.

3. I read a lot of talk about Doom in your music I know it's there but I hear much more a  Dark Electronic, Eastern overtones, Post Rock and Trip rock vibe.  How would you explain love to someone that has never heard the band before?

I'm pretty disassociated from the “doom” title. I think honestly what happened is I started to feel insecure playing with a lot of really aggressive bands and so I started making the songs louder, and then when people called it doom I got excited because it felt like I had made it into some sort of boys club and was finally accepted. However, doom never felt right to me and now that I've found some footing as an artist I feel mostly no connection to it. I like dark electronic much better, experimental rock, art rock etc. I guess I might say the music is loud at times, but with an emphasis on lyrics and melody.

4. How does the live show differ from the album and what been the crowds response at the shows?

It's a bit difficult for us to translate the intricacy of the electronic sounds live but we do our best. I think the live show is a bit more raw just because I go a little crazier and get grittier. We have great responses usually! And when we don't I cry. But I'm getting better at not crying as much.

5. I know this is your 2nd album -  the 1st with The Flenser -  how did you come to work with label and how have results been up to now?

We've known Jonathan of The Flenser for a while now and sent him our first record actually. He definitely works very hard at what he does and is very pragmatic and calm which is really good for me. Sometimes he fills in as my therapist.

6. This Courtney Love thing seems to haunt Muscle and Marrow now. Have you ever spoken to her or has she heard your music and what were the thoughts?

I wouldn't use the word haunt since it's not a curse. I've never spoken with her unfortunately, but I keep thinking one day if I just continue to obsess over her in interviews she'll find me somehow. I know people who know her or know her old bassist etc etc. It will happen one day!

7. What are your thoughts of Digital age ( Social Media, Bandcamp, Soundcloud, You Tube). Is it a blessing or curse to underground bands in 2016. Has this digital age allowed every bedroom artist to get the music out and water down the scenes?

I've never been in a band without the digital component so I don't have much to compare it to. As a regular human though, I do really worry about what having a constant audience is doing to my brain and my ability to be alone.

8. So there is a video for "Black Hole" one of the heavier tracks on the album. I will have to say it's wonderfully odd and disturbing as well. If I was to ask both of you what do you, your fans and people watching it to come away with?

I think I just wanted to surprise people and challenge their perceptions of our band. I refuse to be pigeonholed and I want to create the space for us a a band to be able to surprise people without it being surprising. The video has themes of queerness and female love. It also parodies what is expected of female musicians in terms of being sexually appealing. Does it still turn you on that I'm licking my finger but I'm also covered in repulsive goo? I guess it's ultimately about ownership over my own sexuality and ownership over the spectacle of the artist.

9. Lets Say a major label offered Muscle and Marrow a deal would you be interested or is it better to have a good indie label with strong behind you. A big fish in a small sea kind of idea?

I don't foresee a truly major label ever being interested in us, but if a larger label came along and we felt a connection and mutual respect we would absolutely be open to it. I do feel very very very invested in the artistic direction of this project and will never compromise that however.

10. What are the both of you currently listening to and reading. Tip us off to some new things we can experience.

I am listening almost exclusively to pop music. I'm looking at it as research. I want to merge the incredible production quality and vocal performances with stranger sounds and more challenging lyrics. Specifically, I've been really into old Mariah Carey, the debut NSYNC record, and Boyz II Men. Laugh if you must, but the vocal performances on these records and the production quality are mind blowing. I do worry that my mind will turn to mush given the total banality of the lyrics so every once in a while I'll put on the smartest music I can think of which is usually Bjork and Joanna Newsom. Keith is listening to weird electronic stuff like Holly Herndon so we can come together and try to make a pop record for insane people.

11. Do the members of Muscle and Marrow make music under other projects ?

Nope! All of our energy is poured into M&M.

12. If you could collab with any artist who would it be and why?

Well I just had a very long daydream about collaborating with Britney Spears and hanging out with her drinking mimosas and watching romantic comedies. Also Bjork.

13.  You're based out of Portland - a very artsy and avant musical town. What is Portland music scene like in 2016, as over the last 15 + yrs some very interesting projects have come out of it's borders.

I honestly feel like I'm not the most qualified person to answer this because I'm a bit of a hermit and we don't play out locally much anymore. People do seem to think highly of it though and certainly I recognize that it's a nice spot for bands to play on tour. People are very supportive here to the point where when we play other cities and the crowd stays sitting at tables and politely claps I think “what is going on!!!???”