[Exclusive Interview] In Each Hand A Cutlass – 後搖海盜 The Instrumental Pirates

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我們是乘風破浪以音樂追捕怪物的海盜!」

“We are pirates sailing out to the unknown hunting down this beast!”

People said a picture worth a thousand words. We say a song ignites a thousand kinds of emotions. Singapore’s instrumental post-rock / progressive rock supergroup In Each Hand A Cutlass (IEHAC), who have performed in Hong Kong in 2013, is one of those musicians who can inspire your soul and spark your imagination with the purest composition and the articulation of instrumental interaction. Upon the release of their new album, The Kraken, we sit down and talk to the band as they take us through their adventure in the monster waves.

若果一張照片勝過千言萬語,那麼一首歌曲能夠點燃上千種情緒可能更貼切。曾在2013年來港於 Hidden Agenda 演出的新加坡器樂後搖滾 / 前衛搖滾超級組合 In Each Hand A Cutlass (IEHAC) 就是那些能夠觸動你的靈魂,用最純粹的音樂基底和器樂互動來引發你想像力的音樂人。藉着他們發布新專輯 The Kraken (海怪)的機會,我們與樂團進行了一個獨家專訪,細說與海怪在巨浪中冒險的點滴。

In Each Hand A Cutlass is Daniel Sassoon (guitars), Amanda Ling (keyboards), Nelson Tan (bass), Jordan Cheng (drums) and Sujin Thomas (guitars).

In Each Hand A Cutlass Daniel Sassoon (結他),Amanda Ling (),Nelson Tan (低音結他),Jordan Cheng (鼓)和 Sujin Thomas (結他)。

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Dinosaur Journal (DJ): When we first heard In Each Hand A Cutlass, we immediately attracted by your band. What’s the story behind your name?

Daniel: The official story is that when I was putting the band together, I was pretty fascinated by pirates – and I had a little joke that the only thing more terrifying than a pirate wielding a cutlass, charging towards you in the heat of battle, is if the pirate had two cutlasses! So I wanted a name to reflect the devil-may-care attitude and fearless nature of that, as I was moving from the safe pop rock world of my previous band to one which was essentially limitless, not being bound by any musical conventions, where we could be free to be as creative as we wanted to be and challenge ourselves musically. The unofficial story is that it would put us in the company of really good instrumental bands with multiple words in their name, such as Explosions In The Sky, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and If These Trees Could Talk.

DJ: 當我們第一次聽到 In Each Hand A Cutlass 便立即被你的樂隊名字吸引。可否跟我們分享命名背後的故事嗎?

Daniel官方版本是⋯⋯ 當樂隊組成時我對海盜非常著迷。我經常説笑唯一比在激烈戰鬥中揮舞著彎刀的海盜更可怕只有手持是海盜有兩個彎刀 (即 cutlass)!因為我決定離開以前的大路流行搖滾世界,進入現在  In Each Hand A Cutlass 這個基本上無音樂領域限制的團隊,我們可以自由地創作和挑戰自我,所以當時希望想出一個名字來反映這個大無畏精神。而非官方版本是⋯⋯它令我們感到擠身於如 Explosions In The SkyGodspeed You! Black Emperor If These Trees Could Talk 等同樣以多個單詞組成的好樂隊的行列中哈哈。

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DJ: It’s interesting that you guys cite a wide variety of bands as your favorite musicians – from hardcore punk legend Fugazi, metal giants Opeth to elites in similar genre such as This Will Destroy You. How do these bands exert their influence on your music?

Daniel: Each of those bands is uncompromising in their own way, and they all make amazing music that’s engaging, sophisticated and in a league of its own. And personally till this day, Fugazi remain one of the best live acts I’ve seen. I don’t view music styles and genres as an impediment or a zero sum game – we all love music across the board, and there’s so much fantastic music out there. I believe the best way to grow as a musician is to keep an open mind and keep listening to everything, even if may be initially outside of your comfort zone.

DJ: 你們喜愛的樂隊非常廣闊從硬核朋克傳奇Fugazi、金屬巨頭Opeth到後搖精英如This Will Destroy You等。那麼這些不同的樂團對 In Each Hand A Cutlass的音樂有何影響?

Daniel: 這些樂團均以不妥協的態度創作出引人入勝的精彩音樂,成為當中的表表者。時至今天,Fugazi 仍然是我看過最好的現場表演樂隊之一。我不會視音樂流派為一個障礙或零和遊戲——相反音樂是一個整體,只要是有質素的音樂,我們就會聆聽。作為一個音樂人,我認為最好的成長方式是保持開放的心態,傾聽一切不同的,即使你可能要離開自己的舒適區。

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DJ: Congratulations on your new album, The Kraken. The creative direction seems to follow some kind of mythical theme. Can you tell us more about it?

Jordan: We are pirates sailing out to the unknown hunting down this beast! The tracks on The Kraken reflects and documents this epic adventure! From battle scenes to a final closure.

Sujin: We did not intend to go with a mythical theme but more like something that came along the way. The song titles for the most part were influenced by music we listened to, books we read and even TV documentaries we watched.

DJ: 恭喜你們的The Kraken(海怪)新專輯終於正式發售。此專輯在似乎在創作方向上參考了某些神話主題。你能告訴我們更多關於它的創作理念嗎?

Jordan我們是乘風破浪追捕神秘怪物的海盜!The Kraken (海怪)的曲目正正反映和記錄了這場史詩般的冒險!把戰鬥場面到結尾一一以音樂表現出來。

Sujin其實我們沒特別選擇一個神秘的主題,只是在創作過程中順其自然出現的意念。歌曲標題大部分靈感來自音樂、書本、甚至紀錄片,十分廣泛。

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DJ: We’ve listened to the album and it’s quite enchanting. We love how its momentum visualize the sea monster imagery of the record. We are curious about what comes first in your creative process – musical composition or graphical art?

Sujin: For us, it’s always been primarily about the music and usually a theme comes up as we’re writing a song. We try to then shape the tune to suit the mood of the theme. On The Kraken, most tracks have some form of mythical theme going and the pace and intensity of the individual track reflects this.

Amanda: It could go either way, though most of the time musical composition is the priority. Being instrumental gives us more space to express each instrument in a more dynamic way. We are inspired by scenes of movie films and perhaps imagine a scene and use that as an inspiration for the music. Once there’s a clearer idea of how the direction is going, we will then make some sense to how the songs would flow.

DJ: 我們試聽了這張專輯,意景相當迷人。它的起伏抑揚,就似把封套設計上的海怪圖像形象化。我們很好奇你的創作過程中,究竟是音樂作品還是藝術構想首先出現?

Sujin對我們來說,它主要是建基在音樂上,通常在撰寫歌曲時,主題亦會隨之而來。我們會盡量把整個專輯的聲音塑造成同一氛圍。在 The Kraken 中,大多數曲目都會以某種形式去敍述神話題材。若你細心聆聽,你會發現各首歌曲的節奏和結構均反映了這點。

Amanda兩種方式也會有可能的,但大多時以音樂為先。音樂先行使我們在編曲上有更多空間去實驗各種器。例如當受到某電影場景的啟發,我們會幻想另一個場景出來並用它作為音樂創作靈感,有清晰的方向後,歌曲也就開始成初型了。

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DJ: What’s your favorite track in the album and what makes it so special?

Jordan: The Kraken. It’s definitely challenging as a musician playing this live not to mention super fun as well! The entire movement was one of the toughest and most complicated tracks we’ve ever written as a band and I’m really proud of that! Tackling tempo changes and nailing all the hits literally feels like I’m battling the kraken itself on the drumkit with a pair of sticks! Haha.

Sujin: Overture. It’s got a very hard-hitting and heavy start and doesn’t back down at all. It’s a joy to play too.

Amanda: The Kraken and all of its parts! It has been the first time we embarked on writing such a long song. It took years of constant hard work of creating, dumping and deciding on ideas that work for each part and how to piece them up without making it overly boring and repetitive for the listener and player alike. Never did we expect the outcome to be that massive. It’s a special one as it sets a huge milestone for us. I personally enjoy playing it, getting lost into the scenes and battling the Kraken musically.

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DJ: 你最喜歡專輯中哪首歌曲?有甚麼特別原因?

JordanThe Kraken (海怪)!作為一個音樂人,要在現場演奏這曲是個非常大的挑戰,同時也是超級有趣的過程!整個製作過程可以說是我們在音樂道路上曾經編寫過最艱難、最複雜的歌曲之一,所以我為它而自豪!在應對節奏變化和確保演出準繩度時令我感到以一雙鼓棍與海怪作戰似的,哈哈!

SujinOverture (序曲)。它以複雜和較重型的節奏起首,而氣勢一直維持在頂峯直至完結。在現場演奏出來更帶來無窮歡樂。

Amanda整張 The Kraken,總之是它的每個部份!這是我們第一次編寫這樣長篇的歌曲 — 重複篩選材料,最後把各部分拼湊起來,使樂迷聽起來不會覺枯燥和重複,是個長達多年的創作過程。我們從沒想過要憑着這專輯成為巨星,但它確實是 IEHAC 的一個里程碑。對個人來說,我很享受演奏這個專集,迷失在當中的場景,以音樂與海怪作戰!

DJ: Will you re-create this mythical idea in live shows via visual elements, stage props, etc. deliberately or you’ll just let the emotions and imagination flow freely? Do you have any preference on how to curate a live concert?

Jordan: It’s a bit of everything all rolled into one! Drums are an extremely expressive instrument. I tend to always picture myself in a movie scene and relay this back into the kit. Props and lighting will definitely give that added realism and presence! Being instrumental we like to leave this to audience’s imagination while letting the music flow and speak freely.

Amanda: We could use some great visual elements where appropriate to further enhance the audio-visual cinematic experience. But ultimately, the impact of the music would already fiercely create a scene in every listener’s mind.

DJ: 你會在現場表演嘗試透過舞台道具等視覺元素重建專輯中的神話主題嗎?抑或你會選擇讓觀眾的情感和想像力自由流動?IEHAC 在策展現場音樂會上有沒有偏好?

Jordan其實是有點集各家於大成罷!鼓是一個非常厲害的樂器。我經常想像自己身處在電影場景中,然後把感覺傳到鼓套。道具和燈光肯定會在現場為幻想故事增加真實性和氣氛!作為搖滾器樂樂團,我們選擇讓音樂自由流動,任由聽眾發揮想像力。

Amanda在適當情況下我們會使用一些視覺元素來提升整個視聽體驗。但很多時候音樂已能深深地在每一個聽眾的腦海中創造獨特的場景。

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