H.Grimace Interview: “I was fed up with ‘selfies’. We’re lost in our own fakeness”

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Self Architect is out on April 7th via Opposite Number.

In a era of rushing and racing, London based post punks H.Grimace are a breath of fresh air. Despite releasing their debut track ‘Lands of Gold and Green’ back in January 2012, they have taken their time getting around to dropping their debut album Self Architect. In the interim they have released a number of stand alone singles, a split EP with JOEY FOURR, and an EP titled I Am Material.

This slow and considered gestation means that they reach their debut album a confident, nuanced, and controlled entity. It’s one that expertly explores the disparate influences of the multinational band (singer Hannah Gledhill hails from Yorkshire while her song writing partner Marcus Browne is from Melbourne in Australia ), combining the controlled desperation of post punk with a shoegaze-esque love of noise.

We had the chance recently to chat with Hannah about Self Architect, globalisation, and playing redneck bars.

Overblown: You released your first track over five years ago and will release your debut album ‘Self Architect’ on April 7th. Are you happy that you have taken your time before releasing your debut album? Did it have an affect on the music?

Hannah Gledhill: Yes, it has taken some time! When we started making music as this band it was my first experience in a band altogether. The whole process of collaborating, doing shows, buying gear, touring it, takes years. I started late, age 25, playing guitar and had no previous experience of the music industry other than going to shows.

So the album was the natural outcome of many years work building up confidence and relationships, recording experience etc. We followed the band’s own trajectory. And then when the time came we were like, “okay, let’s make an album now.”

O: Your latest single ‘Land/Body’ seems to be railing against homogenisation. In a world of globalisation which seems to get smaller and smaller, do you think this is unavoidable?

HG: ‘Land/Body’ was really a chance to look at our relationship to the land. Certainly, with all the new housing/apartments that all look the same and huge displacement of people there, it seems that this connection is fading. I don’t know how we are supposed to feel connected or a part of our environment when we have little or nothing to do with its development, usage or design.

I was reading a book at the time called Living Through The End of Nature (by Paul Wapner) which I guess was the question: “Is there anything left of a natural world or patterns that we haven’t affected somehow?” I feel the human imprint has stepped so far into other natural systems that yeah the concept of nature is distorted. It’s just nice to have some variety and difference in our lives. I don’t want to live in a shit block. Can there not be some unhampered space around to enjoy? The list at the end of the song is me searching for words that bridge the land and the body.

O: The track ‘2.1 Woman’ features a collaboration with poet and artist Vivienne Griffin. How did this collaboration come about?

HG: Vivienne is about one of the coolest women I know so I was like, “yes, I’d like to work with her if I have the chance!” She is an utterly devoted artist working across drawing, painting, sound and performance and we often talked about doing something together. She had never been in a band before, so I suggested she collaborate with us using some of her written works to see if she liked it. And that’s when ‘2.1 Woman’ came about, it was perfect to have her voice on there and I would love to work with her again.

O: Can you elaborate on what the song is about?

HG: In my head the song is about the need to feel like you’re constantly making a better version of yourself. The dialogue one might have with themselves about the onslaught of things we are advised or encouraged to do. It’s called ‘2.1 Woman’ as to show the new upgraded version of yourself or the last model. I really love this track.

O: The artwork for ‘Self Architect’ is quite striking. Who created it? What is the concept behind the artwork?

HG: I did it! I am really chuffed to have had the chance to make this artwork. I studied art long before I made music and I just never knew what to do with the imagery I created. I tried to have exhibitions and published a few bits but it’s so nice to have somewhere to put the work and that gives it some purpose. That was what I was always missing from my art. I didn’t know where it was to go.

h.grimace
‘Self Architect’ album artwork.

O: I also find the album title, ‘Self Architect’ intriguing. In university I did a masters that related to the idea that the ‘self’ and ‘identity’ in autobiographies were essentially constructions and so autobiography is neither non-fiction or fiction but in fact somewhere in the limbo between the two. The title immediately reminded me of my thesis. What does the title ‘Self Architect’ mean for you?

HG: That sounds like a great essay you wrote. The art I made in the run up to finding the album artwork I called Fictive Selves, I was fed up with all the shameless self promotion, ‘selfies’ and the profiles everywhere. Yeah, a mash up of fake and real identities to present the best version of ourselves. I guess we all do that to some extent, it’s the mating process perhaps! But it’s gone to an embarrassing extreme, we’re lost in our own fakeness. Also Self Architect was also a comment on making the world in our own image and to suit our own needs.

O: To end things on a lighter note, what has been your favourite memory from the history of the band?

HG: On a lighter note, despite our heavy exterior and content at times apparently our songs can be uplifting and we certainly do want to have fun with it! Asher Preston played drums on the album and Shan Pasha played bass and before we wrote the album the three of us went on tour around America for a month playing 30 dates back to back supporting a friend’s band called Couches from San Francisco.

We hired a van and had an absolute blast! Hardly anyone came to the shows! But when people were there boy that did toughen us up, we just had to do our thing. We arrived at a small bar in Colorado in the mountains that was pretty much a redneck bar and we thought “Holy shit!” Every one was so wasted (also high altitude so booze gets in your blood quicker) And I thought, “man, I’m going to get heckled so hard here!” And they absolutely loved it. They were a fine open minded crowd, mostly! We got in the Durango Newspaper and on the radio! And I thought you can’t judge a crowd on appearances!

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