Slim Twig / Interview
Read it on Chasseur Magazine
Max Turnbull aka Slim Twig is a Toronto based musician, who has not only received much critical acclaim from the press but has also been compared to the likes of Lou Reed and David Bowie. An eccentric yet fascinating persona, Slim Twig is currently touring Europe with his partner and member of the band U.S. Girls, Meg Remy. Chasseur caught up with Slim and questioned him about the creative process behind his projects, his latest album ‘A Hound At the Hem, his expectations from his European tour and the nature of his relationship with partner and creative half, Meg.
Slim Twig, your music bears many influences from the music scene of the 60s and 70s. In what other ways you find yourself inspired by those decades?
I am inspired by the emphasis of the producer in those decades. In rock based music I think we’ve lost a little of the auteur-ship that dominated those eras. Producers like Joe Meek, Tony Visconti, Phil Spector or from a different scene someone like Conny Plank – these kinds of ‘sound artists’ developed particular techniques and sounds identifiable to them. I try to think about this concept when producing music for Meghan as U.S. Girls or with the Slim Twig records. I certainly do not mean to revive any past era, but seek to re-invent using related textures that I find inspiring.
You are currently touring Europe. What were your expectations for this tour?
Travelling so far abroad to play shows proves a little challenging in some respects. I keep feeling the urge to totally burn the stage down each show, to make it electric for people as you never know when you might make it back to these exotic locales… Of course, you don’t want to force it so it’s best to temper this notion with trying to be yourself and play the songs as best you can. My expectation and desire is for people who have not yet heard my music to enjoy it, that’s pretty much it.
Slim, you were the producer behind the most recent albums of Meg’s band, the U.S Girls. How would you describe the whole process? Was it more work or pleasure and why?
It’s certainly work, but the key is that it is work that brings me a great deal of pleasure. That’s sort of the key to life right there! Meg has been very generous in granting me my longtime desire to produce records for other people. It’s been convenient for us as we already have such a shorthand and history, it makes it easier for us to help explore each others fantasies – mine to try my hand at producing, and hers to extend her voice into the realm of pop production.
Do you think that being a couple helps the dynamic of your live performances? If yes, in what way?
That’s not really an area where we try to exploit our dynamic, on stage. Honestly our relationship as partners outside the creative realm is private and sacred to us, that isn’t what we desire to share with people. We have also become creative partners, emulating to a degree a formula that has worked well for my parents (partners in life and art), this is the dynamic that we wish to share with people but that should not be confused with our relationship as such.
Coming from a film background, do you ever think of your albums as soundtracks to different periods of your life?
Yes. Each record is a document of the things that I found inspiring at the time, and the people who helped me to make the records. I think if you follow any artists career chronologically a path will emerge, I feel a good example of this as my music clearly states it’s interests if you listen closely.
Your latest album ‘A Hound at the Hem’ was recently released. Could you tell us a few words about it?
It’s my densest and most original work if I can say so humbly… It was an honour to work with so many wonderful musicians. The album represents a collaboration primarily with my friend Louis Percival but also with Meg & Carl Didur & Tim Westberg and of course Owen Pallett who arranged strings for it. These people are all fantastic at what they do and I think the record does a good job of capturing that. It was my dream to create an elaborate and baroque sounding record, and I think I achieved this, which is exciting. I also always had the desire to make a narrative album, which this record also fulfills… I am happy with this one.
Share with us the story behind your favourite track off the new record.
Well the whole record is a re-interpolation of Nabokov’s Lolita. I re-arranged the characters and themes a little more opaquely. It is an album essentially about the destructive power of desire, and with the idea of self reckoning. I don’t like to give my straight reading of it, but the record comes with a lovely lyric book for people to try and make sense of the story.