Moving Forward

MMF 2 Kirstin Hersh
Folk and Rock icon Kristin Hersh formally of Throwing Muses, and now 50FootWave was just 14 years of age when she began to play music, and in all that time, Hersh was compelled to create new music and write artful songs. Now she has a new release out with 50FootWave, titled Black Pearl.

According to a 50FootWave’s press release, the band was begun as a touring entity in an attempt to circumvent the recording industry entirely: to give music away and seek no attention other than audiences who choose to show up at the bands concerts. Via a special email interview -Hersh answers a number of questions about her drive in music and the new record.

Jupiter Index: I read in an interview where you said, “Sonic technique really is all it is, it’s like a vocabulary. We were allowed in but even solo acoustic I’m not allowed in to the folk circuit. They have to be able to call you something or they don’t let you in.” Talk about what sonic technique is and the atmospheric elements to it.
Kristin Hersh: Genre is not unlike demographic when it comes to dehumanizing both musicians and listeners. Sound evolves and every style has some substance and some suck. Quality is what matters when it comes to all music: is the player honest, connected to that river we call composition? Or are they showing off, lost in their own image, etc.

I’m happy to have no genre and no demographic when it comes to listeners. Every record is an invention, every track that goes down is something I haven’t heard yet. There’s no pretense when it comes to invention; pretense would be selling product as music. Recording industry product simply isn’t music and real listeners know this.

JI: What drives you to keep exploring and reaching for new music? Such as the song Staring Into the Sun?
KH: Music is an ongoing force in my life, has been since I was nine years old. It’s as close to religion as I get, given that it holds low animal impulses and higher values easily and lightly. That id plus super ego, the gravity that life carries, comes with a soundtrack. To me, music is the “real” world and our lives are lived inside of it.

I wrote Staring Into the Sun in California and it’s a very California song. The sun on the hood of my truck and the Santa Ana winds in Little Tijuana where I live...American stories move me because they’re picking up the pace in a culture that hasn’t been around very long. Speed is a powerful force; one to be reckoned with. The “strangest stranger” is one of my favorite love song moments. Always try to pull love out of the chaos, out of the dirt.

MMF3 and 50-foot-wave-black-pearl
JI: Which do you love more, the sounds of making music or the words?
KH: The words are some of the sounds. The most beautiful (not pretty, but necessary) words are the most meaningful. Each song comes to me with syllables embedded in melodies and when music accepts these lyrics, I know they’re true. If it sounds stupid, it IS stupid in other words. Hahaha.
Music is the determinant, though. Music knows how to form a song out of its own clay, so it pulls words out of my life experiences and lets me know which stories are most beautiful, most necessary to tell.

JI: With your upcoming tour, can you say if it is harder to tour now, or a little easier?
KH: Touring is a tough life. Not everyone feels comfortable never going home, but I raised 4 children on the road and I’m pretty used to it. I tell young musicians to give up one room of their house at a time until there are no rooms left. If they’re ok with that, they can probably handle the road.

It’s freeing to learn that you have few wants, few needs.

JI: Would you like to aid anything more about your music?
KH: My bandmates and I have always played and will always play. This has very little to do with what people hear. Only sometimes do we record what we play, only sometimes do we release those recordings and then sometimes we tour those releases. But music itself doesn’t care.

There are no genius people, just genius moments and anyone honest is capable of living them. So this sound we make is a genuine attempt at honesty every time. It’s not necessarily for publication or’s just our life soundtrack.

by G.M. Burns