Interview: Shackleton & Six Organs Of Admittance

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Electronic producer (Sam) Shackleton and Ben Chasny (aka Six Organs of Admittance) have collaborated on a beautiful new record called Jinxed by Being. We interviewed the duo to find out more.

Do you dream often? What do you dream about?

Ben: I do dream often. I have specific dream geographies that are always visited. There’s a city that is the dream version of San Francisco, which is wildly different than the real San Francisco in terms of the ways the highways are laid out, yet in my dream it’s always the same. I also have a recurring nightmare of an invasion of the earth by non-human entities and when I look to the sky, there are huge planets in galaxies, not unlike something you would see in a sci-fi movie or painting.

Sam: My dreams tend to be quite random reassemblies of what happens in my daily life or people I know and I do not have recurring dreams.

I love the obscure cover art. How do you think it resonates with the album’s theme and nature?

Ben: I might turn this question over to Sam. He found the art and I agreed that it was perfect. It seems to resonate some of the themes of the record that confront surreal antagonists.

Sam: My girlfriend gave me a book featuring the art of a Polish artist called Aleksandra Waliszewka. There were a lot of examples of other artworks from different eras that had influenced her work. I liked a great deal of it but I particularly liked the works of Marian Wawrzeniecki. Generally the artwork seems to have the erotic, the mystical and death as themes and I suppose these are things that don’t just interest me, but are quite universal. Lyrically there is a lot of overlap with those themes on the record. This image was the one Ben liked the most of them all. You can read what you like into this particular image but I like the idea of being rendered helpless in the face of overwhelming beauty, or that love can conquer all, or even showing the symbiotic nature of what one might think are opposing forces.

Tell me about Jinxed by Being’s recording process through three specific memories.

Ben: I remember Sam being very good at making sure I kept up with the recording process. I was going through a time that was very busy in my life and he would keep me going. Hearing what Sam could do with rhythm and bass and being very excited when he would send tracks back and have these sounds on them that I could not have imagined. And finally, I remember being very into the vocal lines and words that Sam was coming up with and having a lot of fun following someone else’s ideas for a change, which doesn’t happen a lot in Six Organs.

If you were to select two tracks from the record, one easiest and hardest to shape, which two do you think they would be?

Ben: Ah, I might have to refer to Sam again. Sam did all of the “shaping” and the hard work in terms of putting it all together, shaping things and creating the listening contours of the record.

Sam: I don’t know really, “The Voice and the Pulse” took a long time to get the vocal effect at the start right. I ended up recording very long reverb tails from our voices and then reversed them and placed them in front of the vocals as I wanted to make it sound like a wind was building up and then turning into our voices. I tend to spend most days in the studio so I just keep going until I am happy with what I have got. That is the same for every project and Ben was always pleased with what I was showing him which really encouraged me. I tend not to think about it too much when I am putting it all together.

What approaches of music making do you think you taught each other during your collaboration that was unfamiliar to you before?

Ben: I don’t think I taught Sam anything. He’s already got his sound down. I think he taught me how to stretch things out a bit and not rush the music.

Sam: The studio is my instrument and I am always a bit in awe of proper musicians who can play instruments well, but in Ben’s case I like his open approach to playing and that he is really accomplished but still approaches it without conventions or set rules. A lot of good musicians lose that attitude with time, but Ben still has this naive style and I really like that. I have always been a fan of his work though, both from the past going up to today.

What are the last three tracks streamed in your streaming platform’s search history?

Ben: I don’t have any streaming services but I do have Bandcamp and the last 3 things I listened to from there were Richard Youngs – “Workouts”, Max Eilbacher – “Duel Monolog”s, and William Tyler – “Mayan Space Station.”

Sam: Charles Mingus – Mingus plays piano, The Pretty Things – “S.F.Sorrow”, Acid King – “Beyond Vision.”

Anything you’d like to add?

Ben: It was an absolute joy to work with Sam and I am very proud of the record we made together. I hope we do another one.

Sam: I am really pleased with the record too. I hope other people will enjoy it as much as we do. I am also happy to have made a friend in Ben.

You can check out Jinxed by Being’s Bandcamp page here.