There is a sweet unassuming nature that runs across the music of MV & EE (Matt Valentine and Erika Elder). It doesn’t jump up and down demanding your attention but swings softly like the leaves of a tree caught in a gentle breeze on a cool fall day . Given the over-the-top acts coming through town this week – GWAR, Marilyn Manson, Ron Zombie, and Valient Thorr – their Halloween night show almost feels like a bit of brilliant counter-programming for those folks that want to mark the end of the harvest festival with something a bit more organic and of the earth. We reached out to Matt Valentine to ask him how they have been doing since their last visit to Houston and about their newest album, Space Homestead.
Your music is very pastoral and when I think of Vermont, I think of these gorgeous mountains and trees. How has living there influenced your musical sensibilities?
Matt – We dig living in Vermont, freedom and unity. It isn’t just Vermont tho’, it is how we live, our place is out in the woods and it is quiet, alotta nature. It helps me hear the intervals better. Sometimes I hear a gimongous roar or gunfire in my head and then the amps get turned up.
If I’m not mistaken, it’s been a while between records for you guys. What have you two been doing in these years?
Matt – I lose track of time travel that way, while playing music…but didn’t we release “Country Stash” last year and I made my solo LP “What I Became”? [RLP4 – he’s right, of course. I totally missed those releases.] Granted we were doing a variable plethora of other stuff in that time, did a few tours and a residency with 3 sets a nite at Zebulon in Brooklyn, acoustic sets, electric sets and beyond. also did some “proper” cassette releases and a major “MV & EE” release on our label “Child of Microtones” called “Suub Duub”, pronounced soooob dooob, it was the name of a tour and the set contains all the shows in their entirety meticulously presented in a hand bound wallet with offset printing and a book. Also a really cool limited edition 7 inch single on the Medusa imprint outta Toronto. It is 2 non-LP tracks, “Lazy Light” featuring the Golden Road and a spooked-out rendition of a cut we call “Lead Me to Vibration” which we learned from an Alan Lomax library of congress LP. Also, added more to our digital library in our download campaign with Revolver. Of course, we also harvested many live shows on CD-R via our “Heroine Celestial Agriculture” imprint. That’s genre pride for ya!
How was making the new album? Did you find yourself approaching recording and writing differently or very much the same as before? And how do you approach both in general?
Matt – Space Homestead was one of my favorite records to make; I carried the same good vibe and approach from the techniques on my solo LP, which basically is alotta detail and attention to color within the sonics. That’s “Spectrasound”, things move around. Along with “Green Blues” and “Country Stash” it was one of the most rewarding experiences to make, check it out in headphones.
I reckon there is a bit of a different zone with the writing cos we were dealing with the real estate of an LP from the get go, which was let’s do this thing in 40 minutes. Keep it raw and cooked so to speak, no thermometer needed, all feel. The songs have lots of melodic corners, there’s a modal approach to the music and the jams are ergonomic on wax. The main thing is the foundation and grounation.
I love Erika’s wah pedal slide guitar sound. It probably comes from my love of mid period Pink Floyd and David Gilmore’s approach to the instrument. I always wonder how you came to that sound as well as other aspects of the MV & EE sound. Care to elaborate?
Matt –Much obliged, she appreciates it…she has spent a great deal of time dialing in her tone. We’re both pro Gilmour, he’s a masterful player. We grew up listening to that music and still do. Gilmour’s first solo LP is on often at the house, I dig the production. In many ways it has a krautrock sound. Hi-fi with some well-articulated jams. We dig long form music, Pink Floyd is an easy signpost for slower tempo head space “trippy” stuff, but really Floyd led us both to other musics very early on. We’re seekers, still are…for example I get just as much enjoyment listening to Group 1850 or Paternoster. The sign is not always the signifier…we get into solos and experimental passages within the music…also embrace an east/west philosophy with the jams. These things really bless their heads live.
There is a sweet kind of magic that comes across in your shows that seems to suggest music as this transcendent force and a way to communicate things in ways words cannot. Can you tell us a bit about how the place music has or can have in people’s lives and in society?
Matt – Music is forever and yet is so ephemeral. That’s a terrifying and powerful thing. It can influence so much, it means so many things to different people. I dig how it can act as a mental Polaroid, especially toward moods. I LOVE music and plugging in, what else can I say. I’m grateful. We’re very much into the harmony, discord and language – basic communication of sound – and we get deeply into it. We like things to sound good. We like life to sound “good” too, but it can’t all the time. We seek a balance.
You will be coming in on a very hectic week. Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, GWAR…you are almost like counter-programming to all the crazy Halloween craziness going on this week in town. Anything, you want to say to people?
Matt – Ha, I love it. I dunno, come dressed up as “Rudy Rucker”, ladies do yer best “Barbara Steele”. See ya in the tapers section.
Wednesday 31 October 2012 – MV & EE
with Cutie Pie and Baby, The Grog @ Superhappy Funland