INTERVIEW: The Twin Limb Hive Mind explains how to tell old people about music, writing sweet songs & Adamantium vs. Lightsabers!
The ladies in Twin Limb make some damn fine music. They are a bit hard to describe. Everything I’ve heard is mostly accordion and drums, which makes it a bit extraordinary, if only for the voicing on the instruments. There is a kind of bittersweet melancholia imbued in the music, a bit like Low, albeit far less morose.
At the moment you can hear their music via one of their many YouTube videos (see the music video for “Long Shadow above”), although they are at the moment working on a full length recording. In the short term though, you can catch them this Sunday with Nat Baldwin of Dirty Projectors and Pillar and Tongues at Dreamland (where you can now buy beer… hurrah!). You can get tickets here. I wrote questions at them and they were so kind as to write back. Do yourself a favor and read what they wrote, huh.
Never Nervous: As I write this, I’m mildly more informed than the last time I wrote about you all, but I’m still kind of writing into a void. For one, the address I sent these questions was answered without names, so I’m not sure who I’m talking to. Is Twin Limb a Hive Mind, or comprised of individuals? Tell us about the band. We’d love to think of Twin Limb as a hive mind!
Twin Limb: When you contact Twin Limb (via email, social media, or really even in person), you’re talking to both of us, and we’re equal partners in writing and arranging our music. We’re two great friends who are very much alike. When we’re playing (writing, practicing, or playing shows) Twin Limb totally has a mind of its own.
It’s really easy for us to lose ourselves in it. Also, so funny, we were having one heck of a time answering these questions (like, semantically) because we’re two people, but answering as one entity, but also addressing things about ourselves individually. Sooooooo we’ll be referencing ourselves in the third person a lot.
NN: How did the two of you come together? Why just a duo?
TL: We both spent a long time working on solo material, so we had a handful of songs/ideas before we met. Maryliz was trying to use a loop pedal to reproduce her songs live and Lacey was trying to find a way to play percussion instruments and her accordion simultaneously. We were introduced by our partners who play soccer together in the summer of 2013, ended up floating next to each other at a pool party and have been fairly inseparable since. We shared recordings of our solo projects with one another, fell in love with each other’s music, and decided to get together and work on those songs. After a few short weeks, we realized how great it felt to work together, and embraced writing new songs as a duo. Twin Limb was born! It was totally unplanned.
We decided to keep Twin Limb as a duo for a few different reasons. While additional instruments or vocals might sound great, we think our sound is complete with the instrumentation we currently use. We love collaborating with people and have had some ideas for friends to join us on special occasions, but we believe Twin Limb as a duo is ideal for the kind of sound we want to produce. We’ve also come to the conclusion that we’re equally obsessive when it comes to writing and playing, and we can’t imagine another band member putting up with us playing the same thing over and over, or being comfortable with the level of weird we achieve during practice.
NN: How would you describe your band to someone unfamiliar with that genre of music? Like old people, I mean.
TL: This has been really hard for us! We tried a lot of things, but we find that people seem to know what to expect when we call ourselves “dream folk”. Apparently, it’s a thing! We usually still have to elaborate by going through our instrumentation choices and explain that the music can be “melancholic” and “emotional,” but we try to be lazy and tell people to just come to a show.
NN: The pairing of accordion, minimalist drums, and vocals is surprisingly lovely. I know that the instrumentation varies from song to song. What inspires that change in instrument? Relative to that, how do you all write? Do words come first or music?
TL: Our instrumentation is largely determined by the sound we want to achieve. Sometimes, a picked guitar is what we’re hearing. Other times, we want the full accordion sound and other times, we want ethereal, spacey guitar. We’ve got a handful of tools available and normally, we can use those to bring what we’re imagining to life.
Writing methods can vary from song to song. When words come to us first, we write them down and store them for later or sometimes go straight into a melody and expand on it. Lately, the starting point has been a melody. We both record ideas on our phones constantly and share them with each other. By the time we get together to practice, we both usually have our own ideas that we’re ready to contribute and the song just kind of makes itself happen. We’ll play through a new song over and over and make decisions about the details along the way.
NN: What makes for a good song, and why? From our perspective, a good Twin Limb song will take us completely out of the moment, out of our heads and into a time warp when we’re playing it. It leaves us with a major sigh of relief and a feeling of contentment. But, what makes a good song in general…no idea. That’s a tough nut.
NN: How is the full length recording going? Where are you recording, and how does it sound so far?
TL: We just finished recording 7 songs that will be released on vinyl and digitally. We recorded with Will Allard at Tilted House Records, and Tilted House is releasing the album as well. It’s comprised of all of the early tunes that originally brought us together, plus the first song we collectively wrote (“Whispering”). The recording is pretty minimal but we definitely changed up the instrumentation a bit and added some additional layers to give listeners a little something different than what they’d hear at a show. We added some piano, some interesting atmospheric sounds, extra beats and some random howling.
Will Allard is a genius and he was so great at listening to our ideas and providing his own. He’s constantly coming up with new ideas for recording techniques and mixing approaches and he’s really into perfecting and tweaking, which is just lovely. We’re really happy that we got to work with him. The record is in the final stages of the mixing process. We’ll keep everyone posted on the status of the release on our website.
NN: What is the best show that either of you have ever played? What about best ever attended? What makes for a good show on either side of the spectrum (observing/performing)?
TL: Our best show as Twin Limb was probably 5/17 at Decca. Their underground lounge is the best environment we could have hoped for and it was well attended by a lot of wonderful people. We had the privilege to share that evening with Lydia Burrell (Alex was playing solo and it was so beautiful). The best attended show was definitely on the Belle of Louisville. The event was part of Motherlodge, and it was merged with the Humana Festival’s fundraiser for Actor’s Theater so the boat was packed. Playing on that steamboat is something very special too. They apparently play the live music through the outdoor speakers as well, and it’s chilling to imagine your music floating down the river.
NN: Tell us about your other or previous bands? I know that you all have worked with other projects. Which bands? How did they end? What do you miss about them?
TL: Lacey’s past projects include Reading Group, Bunny Day & the Mercy Buckets, and Opie & the Orangettes (don’t laugh at all the ‘& the’ names!!). She also performed under her own name for a while. Reading Group was a high-energy pop punk band. Bunny Day was a folk duo; Amy Lee played the banjo beautifully, and Lacey had her accordion. Opie was just Lacey. Each project ended because it was just time, man. The winds of change were a’ blowin. It’s easy to miss spending a lot of time with past bandmates, of course, but everyone is doing really well. Paul Watkins and Paul Rushford (Reading Group band members) are in a band called Fast Friends and they have a new album coming out soon; Lacey sings on one of the tracks. Amy Lee (half of Bunny Day) is getting married this year!
Maryliz’s other current project is with The Fervor, where she contributes guitar, some backup vocals and random keys. They’re a lovely bunch of people and currently working on a new record. Prior to that, she was working on some electronic music with Clint Allen under the name The Imagining, which was near and dear to her heart as well. From age 15 – 19, she raged in hardcore punk rock bands every day, thrashing on some power chords and screaming harmonies that would result in damaged vocal chords for a few years, which is why she made instrumental solo music for a time. That punk rock energy was so fun and being able to thrash like a crazy person in front of a crowd of people who weren’t out to judge you for it was liberating in a way that is unexplainable.
NN: If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be and why?
TL: So many ideas. AH! Just one thing?! NO CARS. Is that a good answer? Wait, NO GUNS. We don’t know. Make everyone turn the lights off at night everywhere so we can all see the stars?
NN: Can a lightsaber cut through Wolverine’s claws? I need to know.
TL: WE WILL NEVER KNOW. In the Star Wars universe, lightsabers can cut through anything except a few precious metals and weird metal compounds, none of which are the metal stuff Wolverine’s claws and super-bones are all about because it doesn’t even exist in the Star Wars universe! But in the Marvel universe, Wolverine’s claw and bone stuff is indestructible unless it’s shot with bullets made of the same kind of stuff! A lightsaber would probably just partially melt Wolverine’s claws over time. Cut through, not so much. That shit is tough!
NN: What non-musical interests have had you riled up lately, and why? Any good leads on books or television shows?
TL: Lacey’s been getting into design and web development. She’s also an illustrator and has been working on a beautiful moth series that you’ll find on some of the flyer artwork. She started collecting science fiction novels from the 50s, 60s and 70s. Mostly because she likes the cover art and likes to use those color schemes in things she designs. Added bonus, the stories are freaking crazy and a source of songwriting inspiration. One of our new songs is inspired by an alien abduction scene from The Uncensored Man by Arthur Sellings.
Maryliz is really into programming with a current focus on Processing for creating interactive animations that she hopes to incorporate in the live shows soon. She’s been reading science books about nanobacteria and having weekly Cosmos watch parties. Only one episode left before needing to refill the void. We have a dream of starting our own production/design company. We’d love to work together all day every day helping fellow musicians, artists and other creative people by building websites, planning stage productions, designing all kinds of materials, doing sound design for video games, films, anything, and (obviously) making music.
NN: What have you been listening to lately and why?
TL: Murals, Black Birds of Paradise, Old Baby, Lady Pyramid, and Anwar Sadat are all high on the list of local buddies that have been on rotation in our various music players lately, and we’re excited to get a copy of the new Solenodon tape. Lacey’s been listening to Love’s “Da Capo” over and over this week. It comes off the shelf as soon as it starts getting hot outside. Maryliz has been listening to Eluvium’s ‘An accidental memory in the case of death.‘ It’s her anti-stress weapon.