Issue December 21, 2005

Five Important Questions With Siberia

Ambient music lives in a weird space. For one, it’s typically ignored by the masses, as it lacks basic pop song structure, is usually sans vocals and takes a while to get to the point. The masses want to be gratified much quicker than that.

The irony is that every person who has ever watched a movie or TV show is likely to have enjoyed, at least once, some kind of ambient music. It’s so often relegated to the background that watching it performed live is like observing an appendectomy: everybody’s comfortable and familiar with the end result, but the process by which it occurred is necessarily veiled.
Siberia is an ambient duo composed of Syd Bishop and Mike Seymour, a pair of Louisvillians whose guitar chops represent their hometown quite obviously. Their new record, 1908, is much warmer than their name suggests — it’s acutely aware of its need to occupy foreground, which of course bodes well for the live show.

LEO: If you were mayor, what would you do to help promote people you like in this city?
Syd Bishop
: First, instead of focusing energy and public funds on something as frivolous as a new stadium or a repainted bridge, I’d put money into a public transit system of some fashion, most likely a monorail.
Aside from that, I’d encourage music or art to be performed in more unique locales. We’re playing a wedding this summer on the rooftop of the Glassworks building. How cool is that? I’d love to see more stuff like that happen, and not just for us, but for everyone. If I were mayor, I’d definitely try and develop more places like this, and all over town at that.
Lastly, I’d build giant scimitars over I-65N, the swords over the road to Baghdad. I’d do so because, simply, scimitars are excellent.

LEO: Which Louisville musician needs to get more attention?
SB
: It’s fair to say that we’re both pretty fickle in our tastes and a lot of what we do like (Strike City, Shipping News) has already merited its share of applause. On the other hand, I have a lot of talented, wonderful and absolutely stubborn friends who I wish would make their talents heard, but who ultimately do nothing to garner a bit of attention. You reap what you sow, after all.
Connor Bell deserves attention. He’s creative and diverse, playing solo as Shedding, not to mention holding down the low end in Wolverine Brass, and he’s committed to whatever it is he gets in his head. He’s brought in interesting out-of-town bands, toured Europe and has played some pretty neat venues, like the Water Tower. I commend that.
I’d also like to make mention of a very special band, with very special needs: Teen Pregnancy!, and that band is magical. I have to admit just how shameless this plug is, since I am a member of said band, but I shall plug nonetheless. We’re loud, obnoxious and creative, everything a good rock band ought to be, and I couldn’t be luckier to have met nicer or more talented individuals. It’s nice to make music with people you call friends.
Mike Seymour: Jamie Barnes. He’s very talented and an all-around nice guy. Go see him when he plays live.

LEO: If music were food, what kind would yours be?
MS
: Rum and Coke with pills.
SB: Is rum a food? Every time we drink rum, Brian Eno and Phillip Glass give each other high fives. Rum is the drink of ambience, people. Hear it and hear it loud.

LEO: Tell me about your favorite works of art aside from your medium.
SB
: We’re both dorks. We both love comic books. “The Watchmen,” “V For Vendetta” (which is currently being butchered) and “Sandman” immediately come to mind. The writing of Grant Morrison. That man is fantastic, especially when teamed with Frank Quitely. They did a limited run series named “WE3” recently that damned near made me cry. Aside from that, how can you not love a man who, when asked. “How does it feel to have someone writing a biography about you?,” responded, “Somehow inevitable”?
Also, I don’t think I can mention literature without mentioning “The Winter of Our Discontent.” I highly endorse it for anyone who’s ever questioned his or her lot in life.
MS: My favorite comic is “Akira.” I love Kase-2, the graffiti artist. He’s got one fucking arm and he is bad.

LEO: What do you want to say that you know you shouldn’t?
SB
: To Nike, Wal-Mart or any other giant corporations reading this: We will sell out. We are broke. We hate working and would like to get paid to make music. If you’d like to have an ambient doom jazz duo on one of your commercials, we will accommodate. Thank you.