Speak, Memory – Norman Music Festival

Speak Memory band Photo taken by Mark Elliott
Describing themselves as between post rock, math rock, and emo rock in amalgamation they call “twinkle core,” Speak, Memory, who will be performing a free show at the Norman Music Festival, speaks with me in this performer question and answer session. Speak, Memory will perform at Bison Witches on Friday, April 22, 2016 at 6:00 PM. Since this is the ninth year for the festival, here are nine questions to get to know them.

1. For those unfamiliar, how would you describe yourselves and your music?
[pullquote-right]”When it comes to us as individuals, I’d say we’re artistic individuals who takes the art we create very seriously, but we also know when to have a good time and enjoy the finer things.”[/pullquote-right]TIM: Oh this is a tough one! When it comes to our music, at times I jokingly describe ourselves as “twinkle core”, which is an amalgamation between post rock, math rock and emo rock. We’re inspired by a slew of different genres that it would take awhile for us to explain. Plus, “twinkle core” is a pretty good way to lure people in, as when they see the title, the first thing they’ll say is “What the heck is that?!” When it comes to us as individuals, I’d say we’re artistic individuals who takes the art we create very seriously, but we also know when to have a good time and enjoy the finer things.

CAMERON: I’d say our music and our personalities share traits: maybe they seem unusual or obtuse at first, but you warm up pretty quickly. Contemplative, a little dreamy. Occasionally frantic. Basically like us.

2. What song would you like a person who hasn’t heard your music listen to first?
TIM: “Selfish” is a good starting point. It’s accessible while experimental to certain degrees, which is what we strive for as a band: to find a perfect median for the two. It’s also a good tune to dance to!

CAMERON: “Absent Within Skies” is easy to lead with because it’s got really familiar structure, even without sung lyrics. “Selfish” is great because it’s catchy and has a bunch of energy. Either one, depending on the personality we’re talking about.

3. What’s your song writing process?
TIM: The way the song writing process works usually is I’ll write something on the guitar to where it’s a complete song and I feel content with it and then I bring it to the other guys to see what they think. From there, we continue to work on it until we’re all satisfied with it. It’s a very democratic process: how the guitar sounds at the beginning sounds completely different towards the end.

CAMERON: Tim is the main idea generator, he’ll usually start with a solo guitar performance that he records. We’ll workshop our ideas in practice. I try to get a feel for structure before I worry about rhythm and melody, because if you get turned around in one of these songs, you might have to wait til it’s halfway over to find your way back in! They’re like the dream mazes in Inception if you try to tackle them blind.

4. What are your thoughts on the Norman Music Festival?
[pullquote-right]”I love Norman Music Festival! Cameron and I went to the very first one in 2008 and have been attending since. Even if I wasn’t performing, I would still be there because it’s such an extravagant event.”[/pullquote-right]TIM: I love Norman Music Festival! Cameron and I went to the very first one in 2008 and have been attending since. Even if I wasn’t performing, I would still be there because it’s such an extravagant event. You discover some really cool local bands as well as catch up with friends you don’t get to see that often.

CAMERON: I’ve been a fan since Day 1. The way the venues line up on Main Street it feels like the midway of a surreal, gorgeous State Fair. Just a great, great forum for artists and for Oklahoma’s brilliant musical community.

5. In general, what inspires you?
TIM: Aside from music, I would say my parents, my friends, anything written by CS Lewis & Orhan Pamuk, and (as cheesy as it sounds) past experiences. While I can’t change the past, it definitely enables me to write a ton of music to let go of all the disappointments one should never endure, even though it does help for the soul to grow. When it comes to my guitar playing, I’m mostly self-taught, though I take inspiration from Robert Fripp, J. Robbins, Kaki King, Mike Kinsella, Christopher Willits, Victor Villarreal, Kevin Shields, Justin Vernon, Steve Holmes and Dave Knudson and just add my own twist to it. I like all kinds of music, as long as it’s genuine.

CAMERON: Whaddaya got? The human condition, history, a sense of solitude, my son… my education is in the humanities, so the intersection of psychology with real-life events is big. Musically, I’m all over the map. Jazz, freakbeat, Brazilian anything, Motown – if you’re a bass player and you don’t say “Motown” or “James Jamerson,” you’re probably doing it wrong – I’m also gonna say that baroque classical, mostly etudes and minuets by Bach, essentially provide my understanding for arrangements. In our music, the arrangements are a huge deal.

6. You’ve just been offered an all expenses paid trip. Where would you go?
TIM: It’s a tie between London and Seoul. It would be hard to choose just one! Both have their perks.

CAMERON: Do my expenses include a bodyguard? Because by all accounts Rio de Janiero is enchanting if they don’t kill you in the favelas. I want to travel with my family and get to places that are just pulsing with life. The Bahamas, maybe. Morocco. If I’m by myself, a tour of the Ballistic Missile Early Warning stations in Greenland and Yorkshire would be wonderfully eerie.

7. Any plans while you’re in the Norman area?
TIM: Oh just hanging out with friends and checking out our friends in bands performing. I’ll probably catch up on my favorite local establishments for some brews and eats that I’ve neglected for sometime! Examples: Brewhouse, Blu, Gray Owl Coffee.

CAMERON: I moved out of Norman in 2011, so catching up with friends in between shows for sure. I also probably need to go win my high score on Street Fighter 2 back from whoever currently holds it at The Garage.

8. Anything else you want the public to know about you?
TIM: We have an EP at speakmemoryok.bandcamp.com called “Value To Survival” that is available to purchase, and we have a heavy presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr. We hope to write some new tunes within the next few months and release them before the end of the year. As for me personally? I’m from California originally, I’m 6’2”, dark haired, I like long walks on the beach, a great listener.. Oh I’m sorry! I forgot I’m not interviewing for a date.

CAMERON: I will make America great again.

9. What do you think should be the Ninth Wonder of the World?
TIM: It’s a tie between Mount Shasta in Northern California and Lijiang in China (located in the Yunnan province) though I am leaning towards Lijiang. You just have to visit there to understand. Or look at this picture:

In the end, both are beautiful places that I was fortunate enough to visit.

CAMERON: Tim picked a mountain, I’ll pick a volcano: Krakatoa. All you need is lava.

The ninth Norman Music Festival is on April 21, 22 and 23, 2016. Read more interviews from performers in the festival, present and past, here.

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Dennis Spielman

I'm Dennis Spielman, the Producer of Uncovering Oklahoma, which I started in 2009 as a way to show that Oklahoma isn't boring. As for about myself, I’m a creative person that writes imaginative stories. I also run The Show Starts Now Studios, which is my umbrella organization for all of my shows I create. Come join me on Patreon as I create content that adds adventure and wonder to peoples' lives. More about my stories and projects are at DennisSpielman.com

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