Interview: Esmerine

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Echotic chats to Montreal-based band Esmerine.

Who is Esmerine?
Esmerine was co-founded in early 2000s by myself (Rebecca Foon) and Bruce Cawdron after we met while recording the first Set Fire To Flames record Signs Reign Rebuilder (2001) at the old brothel at 10 Rue Ontario Est in Montreal. Over the course of the last 12 years the band has expanded and now includes Jamie Thompson (drums) and Brian Sanderson (violin, trumpet, bass).
For this Dalmak tour, we are also touring with Hakan Vreskala (darbuka, davoul), Jeremi Roy (saz, bass) and James Dedeoglu (electric guitar). Hakan and James are friends that we met in Istanbul while working on the Dalmak record.

If you could describe the sound of Esmerine in 3 words, what would it be?
visceral lyrical landscapes.

What/who are your influences?
Steve Reich, Rachel’s, Kronos Quartet, Neil Young, Nina Simone to name a few…

What kinds of things inspire you during the songwriting process?
For this last record, we were deeply moved by our experience in Istanbul (as we played a show there in May 2012), and that was what essentially inspired us to do a residency in Istanbul – and compose and record the Dalmak record.

You recently released your latest album, Dalmak; what was the recording process like and how did it inform the sound of the album?
Yeah so we composed and recorded the record in Istanbul. The stars must have been aligned, as we really had no idea how to make this happen logistically. We ended up renting a loft in Istanbul and turned it into a recording studio. We could not find a marimba to save our lives, but somehow it all came together and we met the most amazing musicians who are touring with us now. The music evolved very organically, I think because we just really enjoy playing together and were (and continue to be) musically challenged in the best way possible. We mixed the record at Breakglass in Montreal with Jace from the Besnard Lakes who really understood what we were trying to go for and allowed us to incorporate a bit more of our Montreal sound in the mix.
The whole experience really has been a true pleasure from beginning to end.


What is your live set-up like?
So this is a very exciting tour for us as the Dalmak band – as the instrumentation is so unique and it has been a blast for us to play this music live. The instruments on stage include marimba, drums, percussion, cello, violin, saz, bass, electric guitar, glockenspiel, voice, trumpet, and music box.

If you could work/collaborate with anybody (dead or alive) who would it be?
I love this question – yeah I think it would have to be Brian Eno or Jimi Hendrix.

Are there any other acts/artists you recommend people should check out?
Totally! We are big fans of Matana Roberts and Jerusalem In My Heart – we highly recommend checking them out!

Besides the Brighton show on December 6th, what are Esmerine’s upcoming plans?
We are currently doing a tour in Europe and will be ending the tour in Istanbul – we are delighted to have the opportunity to share this music in Istanbul. And we love touring the UK so are really looking forward to the Brighton show.

Melting Vinyl is putting Esmerine on this Friday at St. George’s Church in Brighton, with support from Brighton’s Hypnotized. Half-price tickets are still available through Ticket Web.

[Helen Brown]

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