MV & EE’s Matt Valentine Talks Space Homestead, DIY Recording, the Dead and More
Vermont freak-folk outfit MV & EE continue their prolific recording output with their latest full-length album, Space Homestead, released earlier this month on Woodsist. We spoke with the band’s Matt Valentine about the new record, living room DIY recording sessions, the band’s connection to the Woods family and his love for the Grateful Dead.
With so many previous releases under your belt, what would you say is the biggest difference on your new album Space Homestead?
Well, we worked in a variable plethora of studios for this one, mainly when folks would give their time for the love of the music—so we were “off the clock” so to speak. Sonically i’d like to think the record stops time. I reckon 9 studios in all, such a good vibe with all the spaces/players. The “vibe” is always there for us when the proverbial red light is on but this was the first time since the tower recordings days where this many locations were deployed on a single album. The big difference is the aural massage in the vastness.
How do you constantly find new territory to explore? What inspires you most?
We’re always working on something up here. We like to record and make things…explore. I am fortunate that the inspiration still comes to me but you gotta dig in this day and age it would be lazy for a band to only be able to produce 8 songs in a year. We have a strong work ethic and really dig jamming, recording, reviewing, editing. It’s a form of memories, that inspires me most, tapping into that ethos and ether.
Tell us about your own personal musical evolution. Were you into music growing up or was it something you found later in life?
I’ve always been around music, records, musicians and recording. Thankfully I wasn’t just in the bedroom by myself practicing scales. I like going to the dance and hearing/learning the songs of others. I’ve been around musicians my whole life, I dig hanging around folks who play and make interesting things. I’ve been obsessed ever since my parents encouraged me to play with a reel to reel tube tape machine when I was at a young age. I heard tape delay early I suppose, perfect echoes that stayed with me.
The album was recorded in 9 different studios. Can you describe your “DIY” recording process and talk about the different locations where it was recorded? Specifically, what is the Maximum Arousal Farm?
Eell, in this case DIY comes out of having a limited budget…but even if we had a budget we’d buy more gear for our home studio and do it DIY! The process is also from the old adage that “no one does it better than yourself”. I’m into this thing I call “spectrasound”. I like the sounds to move around, the mixes are active like Funkadelic’s “Maggot Brain”. If I want erika’s steel to blossom in the left speaker, sneak up on ya in the right speaker and then disappear into the wall it would be hard for me to tell an engineer what I meant by that, let alone how to do it. That is “spectrasound” and we get into it. check it out in headphones.
I wouldn’t say I’m a tyrant or “bird dog” scenes, but I like the records to sound and look a certain way. There’s a “presence” and a reflection with our DIY methods and I try to retain the concept of “yourself” in the final piece, you dig? This is more than a product, it is part of the MV & EE family.
It was recorded in many of our good friends and favorite players home studios, or rooms that we dig, like Justin [Pizzoferrato’s] Old Bank facility. We did a bunch of our Ecstatic Peace! sides with him and he was set up in an old New England vault [that] had a wild reverb. Now he’s got an even better studio. Anyway, some things were done there, some down at the Wolfpack’s HQ in Asheville, NC. Those dudes, Rafi and Paulie G, have some killer old school analog gear, and killer ears/mojo….but really most of it was done in Jeremy [Earl’s] Woodsist home studio in upstate NY and our home studio which is [called the] “Maximum Arousal Farm.” Lots of wood and open space. That’s the mood in those spots. Jarvis [Taveniere] also got deep with us in the Brooklyn haunt “Rear House” where many of the Woods jams are recorded. He’s got a groovy set up and a great set of ears. We did “Wasteland” with him there…worked hard, played hard.
You have a close relationship with the members of Woods (and the label Woodsist). How did you become associated with Jeremy and Jarvis and why do think your musical styles mesh so well together?
We all come out of the skank circuit, heh heh. I’ve known them for awhile, Wooden Wand/Meneguar/Shepards trails…Erika and I actually all went to the same college as them, we’re a lil’ bit older but our paths crossed and collective spirits certainly flanged like a Henry Moore.
We also did an experimental raga tape with Jeremy’s cassette imprint Fuck It Tapes. I guess that began the “working” phases of our relationship and continued when I helped set up a few shows for them in Vermont, Jeremy and I started to loosely play together after that. It reminded me of the TR a bunch—get comfy, jam, turn on the recorder. Then we started to sing together and realized that our voices colored in the spaces like ganache and grenache. I just really dig hanging out with those folks, we’re on the corner and I reckon we equilibrate on the street.
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Here is the new video from Serbian guitar ace Ana Popovic. “Object Of Obsession” appears on her latest album Can You Stand The Heat.
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