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10 Quick Ones with NERISSA SCHWARZ of FREQUENCY DRIFT – March 2018

| 28 March 2018 | Reply

According to a recent press release: “The things you cannot leave behind, the things that remain. Oftentimes it is only thoughts – indeed ghosts – that remind you of what once was. Through detailed compositions, enthusiastic melodies and, last but not least, dimensions of sound that are as complex as they are experimental Frequency Drift create enthralling Cinematic Music on their new album Letters to Maro. In the minds of listeners, the music creates fascinating sequences of images about loss, forgetting and healing all by means of the mere energy of the sounds.”  We get electric harp / mellotron / and synthesizer player Nerissa Schwarz to discuss new music, influences, and more in our 10 Quick Ones…

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets the band put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

While we have a few songs that are more immediate on the new record, our music is very layered, so it probably requires several spins to hear all the different facets and colours. We also worked a lot with  odd rhythms and polyrhythms on the new album, but not all of them may be so easy to find on first listen, as everything we do needs to serve the songwriting. I also believe that the electric harp is not always easy to recognise – in some places it sounds very much like a harp, while in others it sounds like something else entirely due to the effects and sound design I used. We believe that these nuggets, as you call them, can make music more interesting. Personally, I love being surprised and discovering new things every time I listen to a record or song.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

What has always fascinated me about good music is the way it can conjure up all sorts of vivid images in your head, the way it is structured, and the way it can touch you very deeply. I also love books or films, but there is no other art form that gives me goose bumps as often as music does. As for the one defining moment, I wish I could tell you a dramatic story about being struck by lightning or selling my soul to the devil one fine day, but it was more of a gradual development. When I took up the harp, I realized after some time that playing someone else’s compositions didn’t satisfy me.

3. Who would be your main five musical influences?

Neither Andreas nor myself ever try to emulate anyone, so I honestly can’t name such specific influences, and I certainly couldn’t limit them to five. We both have very eclectic tastes, and everything we listen to, as well as other, non-musical art forms or experiences, may influence us.

4. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be?

David Orlowsky, a clarinettist. His musical background – classical music and Klezmer – is very different to ours, which would make it interesting to collaborate with him. I also love the sound of the clarinet when it is played well, and his playing is absolutely divine!

5. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before?

I think cinematic sums it up best. As in a movie plot, there are dramatic developments, twists and turns and all kinds of mood changes throughout the album or within songs. I’d also describe our music as being very melodic and experimental at the same time. We love using unusual instruments like harps, mandolins, wavedrums or theremins. We also try to tell stories with our music, now more than ever, thanks to Irini, our new singer and lyricist.

6. What’s the best thing about being a musician?

Creating something out of nothing. And telling our drummer stupid drummer jokes.

7. When the band are all hanging out together, who cooks; who gets the drinks in; and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

Rumour has it that in some bands, the members start hating each other when they rehearse or tour together for too long. We haven’t done any extensive tours yet, but in any case I would never hate my bandmates enough to want to poison them. So it’s definitely not me who cooks! Andreas is a fine cook, but he’s always too busy carrying his ridiculously heavy keyboards. Luckily, promoters have taken pity on us so far and offered catering whenever we played a gig. The only acoustic guitar we ever had got smashed when I dropped my mellotron on it, so these days we only sing along to mellotron choirs.

8. If you weren’t a musician, what would be your dream job?

Probably a photographer, film maker or architect. I love visual arts, but I don’t know the first thing about being a visual artist, so I’d rather stick to making music.

9. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over”?

I’m not sure if I’d want to do anything differently because who knows what would be the results – I’m thinking of the butterfly effect. Maybe if we’d done anything differently, we’d all be playing in a country big band now. I’ve got nothing against big bands, but…

10. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

I wouldn’t have to go back very far. I’d love to have witnessed the recording of Hans Zimmer’s soundtrack for Dunkirk – how he came up with all these sounds, and how he collaborated with the director Christopher Nolan to make the music work with the images and story the way it does. This is one of the most intense and awe-inspiring records I’ve heard in years.

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Todd ‘ToddStar’ Jolicoeur

Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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