CCS: Chicago Crowd Surfer
TT: Twin Talk
Chicago jazz trio Twin Talk were able to answer a few of our questions ahead of their record release show this Sunday, February 10th at The Hideout. Tix are $10, grab yours today. New record Weaver is out this Friday, check it out!
CCS: For those who don't know of you all, can you run through the members of your combo and a bit of the history of Twin Talk?
TT: Twin Talk is drummer Andrew Green, tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi, and bassist/vocalist Katie Ernst. The band formed in 2012 soon after the three of us moved to Chicago. Since then, we’ve stayed busy writing, rehearsing, playing shows in town, and touring.
CCS: We know you were given the opportunity to record your new record Weaver at Justin Vernon's April Base studio. How was that experience?
TT: It was a pretty amazing opportunity to be able to record at April Base. I (Dustin) was touring with Bon Iver for about a year, and during that period of time Justin came out to a TT show in Minneapolis and invited us to record at his studio. We had a lot more time in the studio than we’ve had in the past, and that helped shape the sound of this record. We spent the first half of the week doing live takes, all in one room - essentially doing what we do at our shows. The second half of the week was devoted to overdubs and studio experiments. We wanted to keep the vibe of the original takes, but expand it into something that could only exist in a studio setting. Obviously, this is nothing new in other genres, but it’s something that is less common in the jazz and improvised music world.
CCS:You are known for your transportive, improv-filled live shows and bassist Katie Ernst's mainly wordless vocals. Can you fill us in on how these developed?
TT: It can be easy to think of vocals exclusively as a lyric-delivery system, but allowing the voice to improvise equally as a melodic line has opened up the sonic possibilities for TT. Katie’s voice acts as a second melodic line in our chordless band. It has allowed us to create thicker textures, and richer counterpoint within our three-person band.
In regards to how our live shows have evolved… we had a turning point as a band a few years ago which shaped the current direction and sound of our music. We realized that were getting very adept at playing our songs “correctly” at live shows, but it was starting to feel a little too comfortable/predictable. As a way to break free, we stopped making setlists and challenged ourselves to improvise through a set - sometimes we’d end up playing one of our songs, and sometimes we would improvise something new. We play a lot of improvisation games in rehearsals, and we focus on getting to know our songs really deeply so we can be flexible in our live shows.
CCS:Your record is being put out by PEOPLE, Justin Vernon's new streaming service. Could you talk to us a bit about the platform and how if differs from other streaming services?
TT: PEOPLE is a new music publishing platform and artist collective that values collaboration and experimentation. Justin is one of the founders, as well as Aaron and Bryce Dessner (of the National), and Nadine and Tom Michelberger of the Michelberger Hotel in Berlin. The PEOPLE platform/collective is focused on allowing artists to get their work out into the world without having to deal with the usual roadblocks of labels, publicity, etc. The music on the PEOPLE player ranges from finished albums to field recordings to works-in-progress to weird experiments that didn’t have a home anywhere else. I think it’s a really special resource for musicians and listeners.
CCS: Chicago's jazz scene is rather large and diverse. Could you let our readers know of a few other acts, besides you all that they should be checking out, and what the best venues are to see off-the-beaten-path jazz acts?
TT: Other artist to check out: Nick Mazzarella, Sun Speak, Black Diamond, Greg Ward, Matt Ulery, Marlene Rosenberg, Quin Kirchner, Juli Wood, Quentin Coaxum, Mike Reed, Jason Stein, Macie Stewart, Avreeayl Ra, Jeremy Cunningham, Ivan Taylor, Charles Rumback, Hamid Drake, Josh Abrams, and hundreds more.
Venue recs: Elastic Arts, Hungry Brain, Constellation, the Whistler, the California Clipper, the Hideout, Cafe Mustache, and many more.