Mar 29, 2011 12:00AM

Oyster #91: Blonde Redhead

Our entire interview with the trio.

Blonde Redhead are Japanese native Kazu Makino and Milan-born twins Simone and Amedeo Pace. In 1993, they were discovered by Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley. Since then, they have released eight albums and their sound has inevitably evolved, from its experimental roots, to the lush electronic rock of last year's Penny Sparkle. In Oyster issue 91, Alice Cavanagh talked with Kazu about coping with criticism, working with twins and the few things that she truly loves.

Alice Cavanagh: You've been in the band for 18 years now. How do you think you have changed, if at all, as a musician?
Kazu Makino: I don't really feel the change in me that much. That's kind of odd I suppose, but I feel the same [laughs].
 
What were your first impressions of Amedeo and Simone?
I was pretty shocked. I had never met or seen any twins in my life, so that seemed kind of intense to me, the dynamic that they had together. It is not easy to have twins in the band and that has always overwhelmed me.

Why isn't it easy?
I don't know. It's almost like, to me, they seem like they really want to be independent, but they can't. I see not a burden, but more of a frustration? but I know they are great company for each other. It's hard to say; having to work with them is something else.

Their connection doesn't help the musical process?
We all have very good chemistry musically, but that mostly happens on stage. I don't think it's because they are twins though; we've just all learnt to feed off each other.

Last year you released Penny Sparkle, your eighth album. What keeps you interested in music? Is it difficult to remain focused after doing it for so long?
It's difficult to be judged. It's not hard to keep making music, at least not for me, but it is more difficult to be criticised and judged on what you do, just because you've made eight albums. I think people are more inclined to get excited about new things, more than [about] things that have been going on for a while. So I feel more pressure than I did with our second or third album; [back] then I was unaware, irresponsible about what the reaction might be. Now the part that really drains me is the reaction that I get from the press. But even though times have changed, playing live is still just as vital in the life of a musician, and I get a pretty good feeling when performing the new songs. It's a reward, you could say.

I watched an interview of you in which you said that you often feel detached from everything around you. Is that feeling a driving force for you musically?
Hmm, maybe. I never thought about it that way, but I guess it is. Thank you for pointing that out. It might have something to do with why we are doing this; it's such a struggle to live in the moment, but music allows us to belong somehow.

You said that your love for animals, in particular horses, helps; is that true?
Yeah [laughs]; I suppose all women tend to love animals, don't they?

I'm not sure; maybe. Is it true you once had an accident on a horse?
Yeah; I was stepped on.

That hasn't changed the way you feel about them, though?
No, not at all. I remember when I was in the emergency room, all I could think about was the horse, if he was OK; if he got hurt. But then that horse, I came to realise, was not a generous horse. I realised afterwards that most horses were sensible enough not to step on you. I think he was a malicious horse, because in the end he really didn't get on with anyone.

It's amazing you weren't put off horses entirely!
Sometimes things like that happen; we just called it a freak accident. It didn't diminish my desire to be with [horses] at all, and they have never let me down in [such] a way that I would lose faith in spending my lifetime finding out about them.

You must be very brave.
No, I just have so few things that I truly love.

Photography: Sam Crawford

www.samcrawford.co.nz

www.blonde-redhead.com

Alice Cavanagh

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