Not a lot of bands are offering their fans singing telegrams these days… But, then again, not a lot of bands are as quirkily interesting as Toronto’s Snowblink. The duo, comprised of Daniela Gesundheit and Dan Goldman, compose haunting and sugary postmodern folk music that has gotten the attention of The Belle Brigade, Dirty Projectors, and Feist. The band already has one album under their belt, along with gigs alongside the likes of Jeff Tweedy, Dawes, and Great Lake Swimmers, and they’re about to release their sophomore LP, Inner Classics, which drops September 11th on Arts & Crafts. The album was written by Gesundheit both on the shores of Lake Erie and Mailbu. She was inspired by the Chinese medicine text, “Inner Classic,” which is based on observations of the natural world. Gesundheit’s inspiration for the songs on Inner Classics comes from her own observations of both the natural and artificial spaces of the world and how they dictate the interactions and relationships that take place within them… It’s somewhat heady, but that’s certainly not a bad thing. I recently got a chance to chat with Daniela about the new album, her inspirations, what she’s recently been most excited about, and what she and Dan have planned for the near future.
Izzy Cihak: I’m inclined to ask what it is that inspired your moniker, “Snowblink?”
Daniela Gesundheit: It’s a real word — it is the white reflective glare above a snow field. I liked that it was a reflection of something and not something one can necessarily look at head-on.
IC: What would you say is the biggest difference between your sophomore effort, Inner Classics, and your debut, whether it be in relation to the writing and/or recording process, or the finished product itself?
DG: Long Live was a lot about veils – I was addressing subject matter that was difficult to present as is, so I got into adding some dim lighting here, some sheer curtains there, to make that difficulty alluring. The sound of the record, especially my voice, was lovely, but a bit shrouded. Inner Classics is much more of a nude dip in a glacial lake – crisp, enlivening, exposed, and clear.
IC: Your lyrics are quite existentially heavy. What do you consider to be your biggest lyrical inspirations?
DC: Inspirations: Certain friend muses that just naturally donate exquisite one-liners in ordinary conversation; antiquated religious and medical texts; contemporary poets, like Anne Carson and Fanny Howe.
IC: You’re signed to Arts & Crafts. Do you have any particularly significant thoughts on the label or your labelmates? I’m quite a fan of Timber Timbre.
DG: We are also big Timber Timbre fans. So far everyone with whom we have worked at Arts & Crafts has been a delight – from the office to the other labelmates. It is such a vibrant and creative team – we really feel lucky to work alongside them all.
IC: I understand you’re offering fans the opportunity to serenade someone they care for with a singing telegram… I’m not sure that I can think of any other artist who has done that in recent years and I very much like it. What spawned that idea?
DG: I have done a couple of installations now, first at an art event in Ukiah, California, and, more recently, in Prospect Park in Brooklyn, where I sat one-on-one with people and improvised a looped wordless song for them. I call them “treatments.” I wanted to find a way to extend this experience to people who are not in my immediate vicinity. Many people have an experience of music that is so anonymous – they go stand in a large crowd in a darkened venue and the performer is so far away – physically and emotionally – that there is little personal exchange. I wanted to try and find a way to remove some of the layers of separation between me and my audience, while preserving each of our privacy. We’ll see how it goes.
IC: What have been your highlights of 2012 thus far and what are your plans for the rest of the year and into 2013? Any plans for touring, beyond your upcoming Canadian dates?
DG: Highlights of 2012 :
1. Opening for Feist and sitting in on “Sea Lion Woman” (and seeing Dan guitar-duel with Leslie)
2. Sitting in with The Happiness Project for Nigel Godrich’s Basement Sessions
3. Signing with Arts & Crafts
4. Officiating Barbara Gruska of The Belle Brigade’s wedding in LA
5. Being introduced to the audience by Kevin McDonald of Kids In The Hall at the Winnipeg Folk Fest
6. Touring Japan with the Alex Lukashevsky Trio (along with Felicity Williams from Bahamas)
7. Dave Longstreth’s tweet that “Snowblink is rad.”
1. Inner Classics comes out September 11 – shows with Bahamas, Zammuto, Alex Lukashevsky in Canada.
2. Might make a guest appearance in one of the bands nominated for the Polaris Prize’s performance at the Polaris gala.
3. Northeastern US tour with Great Lake Swimmers in October
4. European tour in November (TBA)