Zorch - January 2013

Zorch Session
Violitionist Sessions

Session Date: December 8, 2012
Posting Date: January 13, 2013
Artist Hometown: Austin, TX
Links: Zzoorrcchh.com, Facebook
Recorded by: Michael Briggs

This Is The Way It Goes
Art Vandelay
ONE: You seem to aim for a more positive sound than most bands similar to yours. Would you say that’s intentional?
Zac Traeger: We have some…not all of our…We definitely have material that focuses on that, and yeah, it is, I’d say, mildly intentional, but we also have some dark material.
Sam Chown: We didn’t play any of it last night.
Zac: Yeah. I think, generally, it’s kind of a trend right now for things to be dark and…yeah, just to lean on that side of the spectrum…
Sam: Yeah, a few things: One, like Zac said, we do have material, stuff even on the new album, where it’s very tribal and like…it’s still really colorful, like, if I were to draw analogies in terms of the colors we’re making from the music, there’s still like, green and all that kind of stuff, even in the black and the brown. There’s some pretty dark moments…Brandon from Cerulean Giallo told me last night that he really liked my falsetto vocals, because it brings a positive vibe. That’s what he said.
Zac: Yeah, he said that to me as well.
Sam: I was like, ‘Cool, I never really thought of it that way.’ And the third thing is, I always made a point of…with the music we make, I don’t want to be a part of what’s trendy, or has been trendy for the past few years, which is like…nothing against any of these bands. I’m not saying I don’t like them, but I just don’t want to do it, because they’re doing it. Like Crystal Castles, for example. Just, in terms of their sound pallette or their patches or like…everything. I just wanted to do something that was different. Something warmer, I think is a better word.
Zac: It’s something that we try to exert live as well…yeah, I don’t want to be a shit-talker of modern music or whatever, but there are a lot of bands I see where they’re…they look like they could be there or not be there. They’re kind of apathetic, like ‘I’ve got a guitar. I’m playing. It’s fine. Everything’s OK.’ But, yeah, I think it goes along with that, that we’re always trying to connect with the audience in, maybe— it is a positive way. We want people to have a good time, but, I think the main idea is for people to have an experience, or have an emotional reaction, which is, I think, the goal of any kind of art form. You want people to feel…something, and I usually feel something when I watch artists who…you know, they care. They’re generating a vibe, and then everybody else can connect with it, so…yeah, there’s times when we really want to generate movement in the audience, and a positive vibe, and everyone to have fun and a good time, but I think it just really boils down to wanting to generate an experience, or an emotional reaction.
TWO: What’s next for Zorch? Do you have a new record coming out?
Zac: Yes.
MB: What’s the story on that?
Zac: It’s done. We’re almost to the point of signing a contract with a label to put it out. We…regardless of what label it is, probably May is going to be the release time. We’ll tour a whole bunch. We’ll hopefully be done with at least another EP or record by the time that one gets put out…Lots of touring, which is what we want to do.
MB: What was the recording process like?
Zac: Recording is always difficult with us. It’s just because we both care a lot. Sam and I will both yell at each other over things no one in the world cares about, or will ever. Things that nobody will ever notice. We definitely get a little emotional about it, but I think it’s just because we care.
MB: How do you feel about it now? Everything worked out?
Zac: I think it’s great.
Sam: I mean, it’s a huge learning experience, because there’s so many things that, now that I’ve done an album that way, I wouldn’t do it that way again. For example— or just, things that I was naive about that now I’m less naive about. For example, how to track vocals by myself, at home, which is what I did. I engineered myself, with the vocals. Just learning about, like…you want the wave to be a certain level. You don’t want it to be this thin little thing. Just, like, basic, 101 shit that…that’s just one example of many. Things that I’m like, ‘Oh, well, I’ll never record it like that again.’ Or, I don’t know, I’m really a little bit of a nutcase with—
Zac: Options.
Sam: Options, definitely. I’m a nutcase with options. It’s just my personality in general. I see all of these options, and I’m like, ‘I don’t know what to do!’ With vocal takes or amp takes where I’m playing with delay pedals on my vocals, or just being a perfectionist with getting the drums…taking these drum takes and like, making it flow…I’m very…I want every beat to be exactly…I’m very particular about feel. I’m not one of these guys that’s like, ‘I want the drums to be quantized and perfect and stiff!’ That’s not me. However, I do want…I’m very in touch with like, the drums need to flow this way because it makes me feel this way. If it doesn’t, if there’s like an off moment or whatever, then we’ve gotta…it’s like…lots of fine-tuning, basically.
Zac: Puzzle-solving. There’s like 32 vocal takes, and then when we pick the vocal take, there’s like 16 delay options, and we have to sit and figure out, ‘Oh, there’s this vocal take. Does this delay option match? What is the double going to be? Ah! Is there a harmony? Oh my god!’ and then all the sudden…nobody’s shedding tears in the studio, but gets intense at times. As well as the way I track keyboards, we’ll track live together, because it’s the only way we can do it, and then, since in every song my right hand is playing the keyboard where I’ve made all the samples, so in any given song there’s 61 or more, maybe over 100 samples in my right hand. Sometimes they’re on the Moog in my left hand as well. With every one of those samples, then once we nail a take, I’ll go back and I’ll run each one of those samples through different amp setups to make sure that it feels live, because I think the problem with a lot of electronic music is that it can feel really…clean.
Sam: Which, I think we succeeded with this record. It feels live, even though it’s heavily mixed and treated and edited and lots of thought has gone into it, but it feels live, which, maybe the demo didn’t.
Zac: Yeah.
Sam: More sterile.
THREE: Can you tell us a little about the space that you run in Austin?
Zac: So, the place is called the Museum of Human Achievement. We have 12 artist studios, a gallery, a venue…It’s a really large warehouse. It used to be a sex toy factory. It’s something that I saw…after touring a bunch, we really loved playing all of these DIY spots around the country, in places where there’s a great audience, people are getting fed, and people are there…the thing I’m really interested in, just like I was saying in the other one, is how you create a space where people are most open to feeling an emotional reaction, where they’re going because it’s important to experience something, and I think that’s a really interesting puzzle to solve, of how to make a space where people feel confident and comfortable in going to see bands they’ve never seen before, and open to feeling…something about those bands, and that’s something that I think Austin can lack at times, because there’s so many venues and so many clubs. On any given night, there’s 40 to 50 shows. There’s so many options, but a lot of those options are bars, and a lot of it is— and there’s nothing wrong with that, but a lot of it is a thing where you’re going to see friends, which, I love going to see friends play, or you’re even just going to see friends who are at that show, but your goal isn’t to go experience something or to really open yourself up to whatever it is somebody is presenting, be it art, music, film…it might be more like socializing or having some drinks or whatever, so…it’s an experiment. It’s like seeing how you can do that a little differently.
MB: How does the Austin music scene compare to it’s reputation?
Sam: I feel like it’s…there was a while there where I was not happy about it. Maybe…a couple years ago, year and a half ago, where I was just like, I don’t know…’There’s only a couple bands that I really love, or a couple of bands that I’m really feeling right now, or that reflect how I feel, as this moment.’ And now, I feel much more positive. I feel like there’s— maybe I changed as a person, or maybe there are more bands that exist that I connect with or something, but I’m happier with it. I feel like there’s a good couple handfuls of bands that I really like, at this point.
Zac: Yeah, as far as being the ‘Live Music Capital of the World,’ somebody else said to me just a week ago that it’s not the ‘Live Music Capital of the World,’ it’s the ‘Live Music Festival Capital of the World,’ which might be a little more correct. I mean, there’s so many venues and so many shows any given night of the week…as far as reputation…See, I don’t know if other people perceive Austin as a place where it’s generating lots of original, world-changing music, or if they’re perceiving Austin as a place that has lots of music.
Sam: Which, I think option #2. That’s reality.
Zac: Yeah, that’s the reality.
Sam: Lots of dudes playing guitars. I’m not against that. That’s just the fact of the matter. Lots of dudes playing guitars.
Zac: I’m mildly…I’m like a 3 out of 10 against it.
Sam: Okay, to tell you the truth, I’m not all about it. A little too much of it. I’d rather have more like, innovative people doing things that are different, but…yeah. I mean, that’s why we moved to Austin, because we saw a pocket, like a musical void…just like, there’s no band that’s doing…that, whatever it is that we do. I can’t really explain it in like, a genre or whatever, but there weren’t really many other bands that did that thing, so…it just made sense. Whereas LA or New York, there’s probably…in general, as many or more bands, right? So, more bands that are sythesize-based, or…yeah, I just feel like we came to the right place at the right time.
– Interview by Michael Briggs / Transcription by Dale Jones.