By a lovely and warm Summer weather in Wellington, Les Papillons Derrière La Lune has met Rowan Pierce and Richard Larsen from Glass Vaults for a chat in the Rogue & Vagabond grass.
Les Pap’s : One month ago, you’ve been robbed and lost a lot of gear. How was the party at the San Fran you organised to collect funds?
Rowan : It was really good, lots of support. It was a really shit thing happened but some good things happened even if we had been robbed, wev’e played a great show and it’s just nice to get lots of people behind us.
Richard : And even people who didn’t come to the party or not able to contribute any money, lots of people still being really supportive and heard about it.
Rowan : And because of that support we were able to replace everything, which is awesome. So we manage to replace all the stuff stolen and got some more parties at the same time!
About the band itself, how Glass Vaults came to life five years ago?
Richard : Me and Rowan studied together at university and we were studying performance design which is performance for theatre, film and all what it needs performance art stuff, all that sorts of things and we went at the same class and after were graduated and started to make some music together, some came from our studies and stuff and we sort of explored some ideas we were interested in toward performance. We went recorded some songs that we had at Rowan grandma’s. And we had more people joing, keep going.
Glass Vaults is essentially a duo but you’re doing collaborations, not only on stage, like with Benny’s Videos or Bevan Smith of Introverted Dancefloor. What does this bring to Glass Vaults sound?
Rowan : Hum, I think in terms of Bevan, Glass Vaults wouldn’t be what it is without Bevan, he’s kind of an early member and central. When we started, he mixed our first EP and he is regular ever since. He’s pretty integrate to the sound and we wouldn’t technically realized a lots of songs and the sound of some of our records without him.
Richard : I guess me and Rowan are sort of pushing it and I guess we’re curating the thing. And we give other people what we like what influence we think are amazing.
Speaking of Benny, I saw he directed your next video for Life Is The Show. Can you tell me more about the shooting and when could we expect to see the result of it?
Rowan : I think we expect to see it early March. End of February-early March. It will be the last kind of thing we’re putting out through Sojourn, the record we released last year.
Ben is an amazing artist, he always talks about ideas he has. Nearly everyday, a new idea ! It’s kind of amazing ! We wanted to realize his ideas, I guess. So we got him to direct the video. We’re really happy how it turns out. It’s interesting working with him, getting him to direct the video. Because in the past we were directing them, so the content, what the video actually is, the storying is very different from what we ever create but it’s very much responds to the songs. We’ve realized his response from his mind to the song. It’s cool to see someone else’s, because when you listen to the song you always build up a picture or a feeling, so it’s really awesome to see someone else picture to the song been realized, their images for it. And this picture is very different from the image I had of the song but it’s great ! It’s something we wanna do more, in term of video, especially work with other artists and have their personality, their images.
Last year, you had recorded a sumptuous album. Do you have any anecdotes about the writing or the recording process of Sojourn ?
Richard : It started when I was living in Newtown for the first couple of songs. We came back after we did some shows in New York. I guess when we came back it just like reflected on, you know and next sort of things and we had released two EPs at stage A and we had some other songs half recorded at that time. Then we start writing the new songs to become Sojourn and those songs didn’t seem to be in the same world than Sojourn was becoming so we released another EP just called Bright. After we came back to the States, I moved in…. Oh yeah, I was studying at teacher’s college to become a teacher and became friend with the music department person. She left us into the studio and we did a bunch of recording.
Rowan : I didn’t know what the disc was, the mixing disc. It was a very old mixing disc and when we were recording, it was like « krkrkrkrkrkr » so we switch the channels and try to figure out which channels gonna work and then recorded only two minutes blocks because the disc was « krkrkrkrkrkr » !!! So I think we can hear it in the record. By default ! (laugh)
Richard : I remember writing the first demos. It was a really nice Summer weather. This place where I was living was like a big loft apartment with lots of natural light, very beautiful. We recorded Sojourn and stuff, the song Sojourn, and other pieces, hey ?!
Rowan : I think so.
Richard : I think it’s really important in terms of where we were at. Just after we came back from the States, we wanted to make something. I think the last kind of thing, when we started, was quite more ambient and moody and dense and we were sort of interested to stay away from those things. The colours had changed a bit.
Can you explain the song Sojourn, and the title of the record itself ?
Richard : Sojourn ?! Hum. It’s a French word, hey ?! Is it French ? Maybe it’s English ! It means temporary stay, go on journey, holiday or something.
So the song. I wrote that ref’ after we first came to New York. I had my guitar for the show we were about to do and we went back to the place we were staying. And it was like soooooooo hot and in a small little apartment. It was disgusting !
I’ve been listened to the hit of Paul Simon, Graceland. I was really obsessed with this album and I was like « I wanna make MY Graceland, to make my response to that song ! »
One of my favorite songs is Ancient Gates. What is it about ?
Richard : I don’t know. I wrote that song soooo long ago. Ancient Gates… I don’t know ! I can’t remember ! (laugh)
The other songs I can tell you what they’re about but Ancient Gates…
Les Pap’s : I picked the wrong one !
Richard : I don’t know, I can’t remember. This song is something to do with like growing older or something.
Wellington is a very arty place. What isit to be an artist in the coolest little capital in the world ?
Richard : Hard ! (laugh)
Rowan : It’s hard to be only an artist. You have to work at the Crab Shack !!!! (laugh). Going to university or be a teacher. It’s a hard question. Wellington is an awesome place to develop. We’ve got study here and we started this project here and this project is still here. It’s an incredible place to develop but I think it’s hard to just exist in Wellington, to just play shows, and just produce art in Wellington.
Richard : Yeah, it’s a nice incubator.
Rowan : It’s a nice base. Because I’ve just moved to Auckland, well, yeah, I don’t know !
Richard : The music communities are supportive and people are nice. Generally people are really nice and supportive here. We don’t know because we’re from here and it’s just what we know so it’s hard to be objective. But it’s cool ! Especially a day like that !
What is the best memory you have as a musician so far ?
(both think a long time)
Rowan : Best ?! Shit ! What is the number one ?!
Playing songs in Richard’s room ! (laugh) From the first EP we made. Like writing and playing those songs. It was pretty cool ! Really existing, immersive, we didn’t have any expectation.
Richard : Yeah. (thoughtful)
So for me. I don’t know. I guess like touring it’s the best and the worst memories being a musician because sometimes that’s really cool to see new places and stuff like that but it’s really hard as well
Being on tour as musician is such a hard job. But I will agree. Playing songs for the first time to your friends, it’s really creative, I guess.
And the worst ?!
Rowan : The worst memory ?
Richard : When we’re doing some shows in like America. Where were we ?
Rowan : Cleveland !
Richard : Yeah ! Cleveland !!! (laugh)
Rowan : Sleeping in a sleeping bag in the Greyhound Terminal. So horrible !
Richard : If you don’t get on the front of the line at the Greyhound station, the bus gets full and you have to wait for the next one and we didn’t really know how it worked. It was so sweaty and wet and we’re getting like the 1 am bus but we misse dit and the next bus was like at 6 am ! So we’re just like holding on, sleeping on our guitars’ cases. And there was a guard with guns.
Rowan : He looked 16 years old ! The security gards with their guns look like teenagers ! Like machine guns ! (laugh)
Richard : I was so depressed !
I saw, Rowan, you have directed recently several music videos where there is some contemporary dance involve in it. Do you like mixing different arts together ?
Rowan : Yeah, I think it’s important for few reasons. One is fincancial reasons. I wanna be an artist and work. Some performance design avenues were open to me so I develop there. Like working with dance, making design and film for dance. Yeah, it’s instead of working at shitty jobs, I can do other art work. I would prefer to do music all the time, that’s my preferred thing but dance is just almost as good. To work with dance, making music or doing imagery for dance. I think dance it’s a beautiful form. It’s physical and not too much mental. I mean, obviously it can be but it’s not being logical, just creative and it’s what I really enjoy with my dance.
And also in term of music, how music is visually represented, it’s an interesting art form for me because when you listen to music you always see artworks, something visual with it.
Les Pap’s : So, would you like to be a dancer ?!
Rowan : I would love to be a fucking dancer !!! But I think it’s too late for me ! (laugh)
You guys start to be acclaimed at the international especially in Australia and the US East Coast. The next step would it be to conquer Europe ?
Richard : I wouldn’t say we’d conquered, even New Zealand you know. Lots of people still don’t know who we are. Such a long, slow process. But I guess, it’s not really… popularity is not the goal but it’s good to have people who listen to our music and come to our shows. Europe would be cool, yeah. Everyone says that touring in Europe is the best place to turn in the world so we have to ! It would be really nice. But tours can be shit like we just discussed ! (laugh)
What are you hoping from a European tour ?
Richard : It’s be cool to got a booking agent and label, to help ! Booking agent and then book more tours !
Les Pap’s : Would you like to go everywhere ? Or just focus on an UK tour for example ?
Richard : Not really that’s keen on the UK because that sounds like the States and not enjoyable to play Sojourn. Yeah, I mean if we can book shows in London but we’re keen to go to Germany, see Berlin and stuff. It seems really cool, hey !
Rowan : And play in a new experience. Like play shows, play music to new people in new places like Berlin. Unknown environment, it’s like being immerse and it would be really cool.
Richard : New cultural experience ! (laugh)
Rowan : And it’s cool to be lost. It’s cool to just go in new places and just being lost, just being immerse, where everything is new ! You’re so stimulated. It’s really cool.
Any other projects in the near future for Glass Vaults ?
Richard : Yep, yep ! So we’ve recorded the next album and we’ve just mixed it. And we’re starting to make the music video for that. We’re starting and cristallizing because we had the Sojourn album and it felt like…. Sojourn, there was a vibe so now it’s « what’s the vibe of the new thing, what’s the colour would be ?! ». That’s exciting, making that world !
Rowan : And the opening in the new album is like very… it sounds quite simple, which kind of exciting !
Les Pap’s : Like minimalism ?
Rowan : It’s not totally minimal. It’s like simple in terms of its production, which is exciting. Instead of being lost in a wash of something, we’ve actually been able to hear everything and interesting little bit coming in it. It’s really cool, it’s been fun. It’s even been pushing us in that way.
Richard : Not sure it’s gonna be cool yet !
You could catch them on stage at 3pm this Sunday for the Newtown Festival. For free! Don’t miss it!