Keith Vidal of Sappington

Keith Vidal of Sappington

by Brent

How did Sappington form?

SAPPINGTON formed in the fall of 1999. I met Ann thru a bassist wanted ad…it didn’t work out and it seemed unfortunate at the time, but we grew an amazing relationship from it. Ann and I had been involved for a few months…lots of cold, foggy nights in SF sitting around with guitars…a few songs sort of wrote themselves…we bought a drum machine, did some recording and SAPPINGTON was born.

Do you find it difficult to balance music with your marriage relationship?

Since we’ve met, our relationship progressed on all levels…including our ability to communicate as a couple…that progression has really transcended over to the musical side of our relationship as well…just keeps getting better. Feels like it allows us to work thru our musical issues w/ an honesty…not always an ease…but an increasing honesty that I think ultimately will help us grow as artists and as a couple which for us is really what it comes down to.

How would you describe Sappington’s sound, and how did you come to that sound?

This is a tough one b/c its always moving…it always seems to be a sort of wrestling match between opposing forces…although that may be a poor way to describe it. It’s very Gemini…and so are we actually. One side of us is heavily grounded in artificial sounds, traditionally electronic beats, inner machine noises. The origins of electronic music I think are typically perceived as being very cold…sort of vapid emotionally. For me the process, albeit isolated, is very intimate…sometimes more like gardening than ‘playing’ music…growing sounds and integrating the results in a wider scheme. The other side of us really wants melody and warmth…song and lyric oriented…usually drives arrangements and emotional underpinnings of our songs. I think the overall sound continues to come from constantly trying to broker a deal between the two sides.

Describe for us a bit of the recording process of a “typical” Sappington song.

In the past the songs were 95% completed before we started recording…we’ve since invested in a very modest protools studio and worked it into our writing process. some songs are spawned from a vocal melody…sometimes a guitar or keyboard progression…sometimes a sequence or a sample…and we start trying to pin down all the parts that are flying around. We spend a good bit of time on trying to find a vibe for a song …looking for interesting ways to voice the parts…different instruments, tones, effects processing. Then we spend a ridiculous amount of time mixing which is the main problem w/ not paying by the hour.

Which artists (if any) influence your songwriting?

There’s the formative music we grew up w/… Ann’s origins are probably w/ Beatles and lots of classical. I still gravitate to early Depeche Mode, early Nine Inch Nails. We’ve been influenced by other bands we’ve been tight with. Ann came from Seattle before SF and worked very closely w/ some of the Soundgarden/Hater camp, and I’ve had a close musical relationships w/ Jef Cantu from Tarentel in SF and a band called Parlour in LA for a while…all of our friends in sf, including Jonathan Lee from Dreams by Degrees, have introduced us to music that have probably had a hand in shaping us to some extent…bands like Slowdive and Low.

What inspires you (other than other musicians) to write your songs?

Don Delillo has been a strong source of inspiration…Phillip Rothko…definitely Bill Viola…especially lately…Viola’s ‘five angels of the millennium’ is a must-see

What lyrical themes do you hope to convey in your lyrics?

there hasn’t been a conscious effort to communicate any one particular idea…I do think there’s an abstract anxiety, maybe a search for something lost that seems to consistently surface in the lyrics and music.

How did you hook up with the dreams by degrees label for the Summer 10″?

Jonathan and I worked together in a previous life and kept close ties ever since. we’re extremely happy to be affiliated w/ the label.

How has bringing Sappington’s music into the live format been?

In the beginning it was me, Ann and our machines…and it was ok…something was always missing. recently, we hooked up w/ Ted Scarlett on keys and Brian Ramirez on drums…and I think it’s been the truest representation of the musical energy of the recordings yet…it’s also been the most exciting to play.

Can you describe for us what the new full-length will be sounding like?

Keeps changing…you’ll have to wait and see…

What is in the future for Sappington?

we’re mostly preparing for our highly anticipated next release…our daughter Zoe-Natasha due in August. otherwise, we’ll continue to write and record.

Any other comments?


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