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INTERVIEW: Boston-based Narrow Waves

Hi guys, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Hi VENTS! We’re great, thanks for having us!​

Can you talk to us more about your last single “Fault”?

J.R.:  Fault was meant to be a dark pop song but ended up as more of a 90s-style indie pop song. The production sounds fairly upbeat, musically, and helps balance out some of the moodier tracks on our debut EP Letters From Another State. The lyrics are about when people share common feelings but choose not to share them — or fail to share the full extent of them — perhaps because the timing or situation is wrong. What could have been a connection becomes disconnection. It’s about when love is a possibility but it’s too inconvenient or difficult, so those feelings are sort of individually realized or privately accepted as a fact, but an unwelcome fact.

Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?

J.R.: Yes. There’s nothing novel about it, but some of the best music and stories are those about love that is painful or inconvenient to acknowledge to ones self or in society. Realistically, the overwhelming majority of those situations don’t work out or end up disintegrating in private because of circumstance. So, you let it go or you disconnect emotionally and this can give way to regret, which is what you hear at the end of the song.

Any plans to release a video for the single?

Sarah: Yes! A video is in the works for this  song.

The single comes off your new album Letters From Another State – what’s the story behind the title?

Sarah: We were drawn to that title because of its multiple meanings. We think about our songs and lyrics as messages from a specific moment, situation, or feeling — focusing on what might be left unsaid or the truths that aren’t as easy to say. This EP is a compilation of letters from inside various emotional states, but also could be interpreted in a more literal, geographical sense. We want to leave multiple interpretations open, and let the listener decide.

How was the recording and writing process?

Sarah: The writing process was interesting because the skeletons of the songs were written before we added synths, violin, and dual vocals. Reworking the arrangements and tinkering with the sound to incorporate the new components was an iterative process that helped shape our sound as a band and has informed the new material we’ve written. The recording process was similarly iterative, we didn’t go into the studio knowing exactly what we wanted everything to sound like. We started with a few full weekends in the studio to lay down the foundation and then from there, different configurations of us would go in  on our own to try things out in the studio, listen back, try something new, and so on. Graham (synths) worked really closely with Richard Marr on engineering the sound. Late hours in the studio can make you go a little nuts, but it was a bonding experience.

What was it like to work with Jeff Lipton and how did that relationship develop?

J.R.: Jeff Lipton and his Assistant Engineer Maria Rice are amazing. Their resume and client list speaks for itself: Ladytron, LCD Soundsystem, The Magnetic Fields, Sebadoh, Soul Asylum, Wilco, the list goes on. To have their expertise and support for our debut EP was phenomenal. Their facility at Peerless Mastering draws submissions and mastering jobs from amazing bands all around the country so it’s great to have that expertise and resource right here in Boston.

How much did he influence the album?

J.R.: Jeff Lipton, Richard Marr, and Maria Rice all provided tremendous advice and guidance on this EP. For me personally, they all had great guidance on how this recording needed to be approached a bit differently from the punk and hardcore sessions, production, and engineering I was more accustomed to through other projects. I think that’s what’s great about Galaxy Park and Peerless Mastering is that they both really have the range to tackle everything from hardcore to indie pop, so we were speaking the same language throughout the process.

What role does Boston play in your music?

Sarah: We are Boston natives and the local music scene played a big role in adolescence and early adulthood for all of us. Most of us have been playing in bands in the Boston area for years, and in some ways this feels like a culmination of those experiences and the time spent going to shows and being part of that scene. We also love playing the local circuit of venues, are always impressed at how many people come out to shows, and the community around music here.

The landscape of Massachusetts is something that works its way into a few of our lyrics – we’ve all spent a lot of hours in a van driving the length of New England and so we could say that is a common backdrop of our songs.

Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

J.R.:  I’ve always been equally influenced by literature as by music in my songwriting. Letters from Another State includes five songs that were already in my back pocket when Narrow Waves formed. Our recent work – the songs that we’ll be recording soon for our follow-up EP — have been more of a group collaboration and I’m really excited about that. The American poet Hart Crane has always been a major influence to me and he’s referenced several times throughout Letters. He was in my opinion the Morrissey of his time. Or perhaps Morrissey is the Hart Crane of our time. Morrissey has lived longer than Crane did, thank goodness. Crane died fairly anonymously and even today doesn’t get the acknowledgement he deserves compared to less poets of his era. My hope is that when Letters comes out, people will feel that literary influence when they read or swipe through the lyrics sheet. I guess if even one person reads this interview and ends up reading some Hart Crane as a result, it won’t be a lost cause. Letters from Another State comes from a very genuine place — with songs that are born from real life personal experience but that I hope leave enough room for everyone to see a glimmer of themselves here and there as they take it in.

Any plans to hit the road?

Sarah: Yes! We are organizing an EP  release run for the early Spring, starting with a show on April 14 at Piano’s in NYC.

What else is happening next in Narrow Waves’ world?

Sarah: Our first EP is set for release in April, but we’ve just completed five new songs and we are busy getting ready to go back into the studio, writing, and coordinating shows for the Spring. Stay tuned!

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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