Alex Worsnip 01/01/2005
New York's Calla made one of the underground gems of the year last year with the dark, atmospheric 'Televise'. As they hit the studio to make their fifth album, GodIsInTheTV spoke the singer/guitarist Aurelio Valle...
GodIsInTheTV: Much has been made of the fact that you're from Texas, but relocated to NYC. Do you feel this collision of culture has informed your sound, as it has been suggested?
Aurelio: "I think it has. In a strange way you have most of Texas as being desolate and the city obviously is an overload on every scale. We didn't make a conscious decision that we'd try to blend these environments it just ends up that way interestingly enough".
GodIsInTheTV: Do you feel yourselves to be part of the New York 'scene', or any other movement in music?
Aurelio: "We consider ourselves a New York band but as far as being a part of what's going on I don't think so; we seem to be playing from left field most of the time but definitely in the game".
GodIsInTheTV: You've been to the UK supporting Interpol last year; any plans to return to tour here at any stage?
Aurelio: "We look forward to coming back to the UK. We are writing and recording at the moment, basically figuring out the next step. Hopefully early fall we'll make our way out there again".
GodIsInTheTV: I hear you've been touring with our very own Cooper Temple Clause over in the US. How was that? Do you think they can do well for themselves in the US?
Aurelio: "Those guys went over well here; American crowds really responded nicely. We had a good time with them, really great guys".
GodIsInTheTV: How do you see the sonic evolution of your sound between albums?
Aurelio: "Every record was a direct result of playing and performing the songs live after they've been recorded. We'd record and basically use the songs as a blueprint. We'd play out and the performance would get more and more developed as we went along. So when it came time to record the next album you had this other sound you'd want to incorporate. I don't think we intend or ever intended to repeat ourselves but to keep challenging is what we do, it keeps you excited about it".
GodIsInTheTV: What bands are you listening to at the moment? Are you fond of any new acts?
Aurelio: "I've been listening to Devendra Barnhart's new record; the Franz Ferdinand record is good also. When I'm writing though I tend to reference old Neil Young, Bowie, Can, Tom Waits...etc. The stuff that got me doing this in the first place".
GodIsInTheTV: Why the change in record label for the last record?
Aurelio: "Young God or Michael Gira has done a great job with the label; we at the time made the best record we possibly could and then as always felt the need to explore and see where we could take it next">
GodIsInTheTV: "Did you have a particular concept or vision for 'Televise',
or did it just come together?
Aurelio: "Every record begins with a rough concept or reference point, pretty ridiculous most of the time but for example we wanted the first record to sound like Blade Runner meets Ennio Morricone, you can figure the rest. Televise was like trying to imagine what Crazy Gorse would sound like in a David Lynch film with Company Flow remixing it. Anything goes really, just like on t.v."
GodIsInTheTV: What informs your lyric-writing process? There are some beautiful phrases in your songs...
Aurelio: "Thanks. A song usually starts with the first line that comes to mind when playing. The first line is always the one that makes the most sense to me. whether it's directed at someone or it's dug up from a personal experience. If it's interesting enough it sticks, then everything else just creeps along after it. Sometimes it won't make much sense until you have the finished song and then you realize what it's about. It's a strange process;I try to be specific but it usually comes out twisted".
GodIsInTheTV: Ever thought about collaboration work? If so, who would you
like to work with?
Aurelio: "Oh yeah. Massive Attack, Beth Gibbons, Tom Waits, Company Flow, David Lynch, Jim Jarmousch...remixes also can be great, it's like putting a song through a meat grinder. I'd also love to write songs for folks too, I think it would be interesting to see another person's take on a song".
GodIsInTheTV: You've always made your music available online through your website and MP3 sites. What's your stance on the issue of online music, particularly for a relatively small band like you?
Aurelio:" It's something I think can really help a band, eventually that is.
When you are an unknown band people tend to download your music more often sniffing around basically. Then with time I believe they probably anticipate the release of a new record then feel they owe it to the band to buy it if they liked them the first time around. If you're selling a million records then you haven't anything to worry about anyway".
GodIsInTheTV: Have you been working on new material? What kind of a
direction are you planning to go in?
Aurelio: "Yes but I wouldn't want to give too much away. Let's just say we
always enjoyed being unpredictable".
GodIsInTheTV: Do you aim for commercial success, or are you content to stay relatively underground?
Aurelio: "We never asked to be underground or mainstream for that matter, we just try to make records that we would buy, it's what we want to hear. The industry and music press isn't usually receptive to those kinds of artists. You never can tell what's around the corner, you just have to keep cutting
GodIsInTheTV: What do you want for Calla in the future?
Aurelio: "Hope, respect, response, change and challenge".