Saturday, June 28, 2008
The Motifs, Melbourne
Current band rollcall? (Members and instruments?)
The Motifs live band is...
Chris - keyboard, glockenspiel, hand claps and singing
May - keyboard, glockenspiel, hand claps and singing
Neil - drums, percussion, random instruments and singing
Alexis - guitar, singing
(The others swap instruments a lot, so the gaps between songs can be longer than the actual songs.)
The Motifs have been around since....
The Motifs have been around since I (Alexis) started recording songs at home, a few years ago. We played live for the first time in our friend's kitchen in Sydney, as a one-off show with a four-song set. Last year we started playing live shows more often with a more permanent band.
First song ever written?
When my sister and I were little and got bored on car trips, we made up songs. I don't know if they count, but there probably wasn't much difference in my songwriting then and my songwriting now.
Music making for you began when....
Other than singing in the car, I also had a toy glockenspiel when I was little, and I spent a lot of time pretending I could play the piano to my friends. I guess I still do that...
Most unusual sound/instrument you've used in your music? In my really old songs, I recorded lots of different sounds - chickens, mortars and pestles, rain on the roof, ice cream vans, mathematical equations, ranting on the train, squeaking gates... though fortunately none of these songs were released to the public.
Strangest gig you've ever played? On the back seat of a bus at a music festival in Japan. It was a mobile live venue called 'Mobium' and they had turned all the seats around to face the back and made the middle doorway into a bar and mixing desk. It's good having those hanging handle things to hang on to if you're standing and watching a band - I wish normal venues had those.
Do you pin up images when recording to help inspire your songs? (Or put up other things in the studio for the same effect?) With recording or songwriting I'm just thinking about the music, not really what I'm looking at. In fact, I think it's probably easier for me to be imaginative if I have nothing visual to distract me, so maybe a blank wall is best. Maybe if there was a picture of something right in front of me, I'd manage to make all the songs somehow about that thing. Could be good for a theme album though.
Unlikeliest thing to influence your music? TV theme songs? Some of them are so good- I especially like Postman Pat, Noddy... Wait, that's not surprising at all, is it? I don't think any of my musical influences are unlikely. I like lots of kinds of pop music, especially songs with lots of ideas and not much repetition.
Most unconventional topic you've covered in your lyrics... Probably most of my lyrics are about somewhat unconventional subjects. I think it's easier to write about things which haven't been written about heaps before (for example, hilarious knitwear) because you don't encounter so many clichés. Or if you do, they are kind of funny, given the subject matter.
If you had to offer any of your lyrics as love advice (or life advice), you would offer... "Stay away from that trapdoor." Sorry, that's not really my song. How cool was that show though?
Most useful lyrics you've heard in a song? We learnt this song in primary school called Minestrone which was basically the recipe for minestrone in Italian. So you gained multiple skills from singing it.
You would love to record with... A nice microphone. And an SK-1. And every type of Casiotone ever.
If record stores had to come up with a new genre name to file your music under, it would be called... Knit-core
Next for you is.... More recording, more records. We aren't playing live for a while because Chris is going overseas. But the rest of us will be cluttering up venues in other bands I'm sure.
Five things you currently love
Rouge No Dengon by Yumi Arai.
Educational Origami Activity Instruction Book
A tie between Sydney Road and Northcote Shopping Plaza (for the bargain shops and general ambience).
My 'Animals of the World' camera-Viewer' and 'Dazzling with Glamour' light-up glasses, both from Sydney Road.
Anything on VHS.
The Motifs write cute and wistful synth-acoustico-pop songs about everything from umlauts to pine cones. Most songs sneak in under the two minute mark, meaning you could time the making of ramen to go with a track of theirs and have a nice steaming bowl of noodles by the time the song's done. You can check out news of their upcoming vinyl record, Cross Paths, and their latest adventures here.