How did Questions in Dialect form?
Matthew Magee, Jonathan Blackwell, and Phillip Blackwell grew up in the same town. We’ve played in several bands together for a few years. We sat down one day and decided to we didn’t want to play the type of music we had been playing. We wanted to do something different. We played with several different drummers, and ended up with Daniel Guaqueta who had played with us in a band called Miracle League. Months after recording “As you may know…” Daniel left the band. Josh Cannon has taken over as drummer.
How did your band hook up with your label, Esperanza Plantation?
The label was started by friends of ours who wanted to start a label to promote good unsigned bands that have something unique to offer. They asked, we signed. The bands and the label are like a big family.
What made you decide to do mainly instrumental music?
It just came out that way. We just started writing. We actually gave serious thought to adding words to some of the songs, but it just didn’t fit. The music speaks for itself.
Tell us about the recording of your fabulous As You May Know.
It was tough because we didn’t have much time. We recorded in Athens, GA with Andy Baker, who was amazing to work with. He really knows his stuff. We did most of the recording in two days at Chase Park Transduction on analog, and then moved over to the Boulevard house. We wrote “Roll the Credits” while fooling around in the studio there. It’s mostly improv. Josh McKay (of Macha, Seaworthy) came by and recorded a beautiful hammer dulcimer track on “Supplemental/Inflatable/Restraint”. We only had five days to lay the tracks and mix, and ended up going back another weekend to finish mixing and laying a few more tracks.
Is there any kind of message that you are trying to communicate through your music?
We don’t really try to communicate a particular message.. but things like human emotion, life, love, happiness, and hope. Maybe a state of being, whatever that may be to the listener.
How do you view the integration of the artist’s worldview into their music? How do you incorporate your lifestyle into your music?
We have no objection to artists integrating their worldview into their music. It can definitely be done in a creative way. Our music is currently not something we use to convey anything about our lifestyles or personal agendas. We don’t set out to push a certain view on people with our music.
Who are some of the musical influences on your sound?
We’ve always been influenced by jazz music. And musical influences are everywhere. You can hear a song in an elevator, get home, and write music influenced by the song you just heard and not even realize it. So our influences come from all over. When we started writing songs that became part of “As you may know…” we were looking to push ourselves in a new creative direction. Matthew picked up Fela Kuti’s “Confusion/Gentleman” and we were inspired because it was something we had never heard before. After that we began to explore many different types of music. Lately we have been inspired by the likes of composers such as Steve Reich, and we’ve been listening mostly to electronica, world music, and hip-hop.
Your music sounds very cinematic. Have you ever worked scoring films or videos, and is that something you’re interested in doing? How do you go about creating mental pictures with your music?
Matthew is a filmmaker and we have created some of the films that we show at our live performances. We have never scored a film, but we would love to do it. We have had people ask to use our music in their films and we have had modern dancers use our music in their performances. We don’t set out to create mental pictures with our music; we hope that people picture things on their own. When we play along with films at our shows it’s only something to add to the experience. I like to look out and see people with their eyes closed.
What has the reception of your music in live settings been like?
We have had a very positive reception over all from a wide range of people and ages. But there is always that person that asks one of us why we don’t sing.
What is the music scene like in the South?
We have a pretty decent scene. Some great acts visit Memphis, Birmingham, New Orleans, and Atlanta. Jackson and Hattiesburg both have good scenes for the lesser known acts and people have recently opened up to more creative music. Most bands that come through say it’s the best stop on their tours. We definitely have the people to support it, but a lot of bands seem nervous about traveling south.
What is in the future for Questions in Dialect?
We have two releases planned within the next year. We also hope to tour and play as many shows as possible. We will be hitting some festivals this year, too.
Any other comments?