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INTERVIEW: Given Names

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

2017 has been a pretty fatiguing year but we’re hanging in there. Thanks for taking the time to chat with us.

Can you talk to us more about your new single “East To West”?

East to West emotes cold and loneliness in an exact way – we’re rarely as successful capturing the sentiment. The first moments of the song feel like the static of a snow flurry; impermanent, but unavoidably present.

Did any event inspire you to write this song?

No specific event. We like to tell stories, they’re often anchored in the dark corners of fiction. “Death” is a great vehicle for metaphor so it can mean whatever it needs to, to whomever is listening.

How was the filming process and experience behind the video?

Scrappy, improvisational and a whole lot of fun. We planned it a week or so out, wrote the treatment, amazon primed a bunch of random supplies and then converged in Chicago. We shot it over 2 days in the middle of a snowstorm. It’s a little rough around the edges but we’re proud of what we made with little money, time or people. Learning how to do something new is the most rewarding part of taking chances.

The single comes off your new album EP 2 – what’s the story behind the title?

EP2 is just shorthand. May be more appropriate to call it Cycle or Series two. Basically, it’s the second batch of art we created under the Given Names label and “2” was the easiest way to describe it.

Would this serve as a sequel?

The song is part of a collection of music (EP2) with a common theme. It’s related to the other 3 tracks, but they don’t need to be consumed linearly. This song/video isn’t intentionally related to anything from our last record.

How was the recording and writing process?

So far our writing and recording process has been similar. We kick some ableton files (sketches/ideas) back and forth, then get together for 10 days to write and record a collection of songs. We don’t know what it will be or how many tracks until it’s done. We compose and arrange the songs then write the lyrics together. The last step in entering into the studio with Villain Lighting, where the music takes on a new life.

What was it like to work with Villain Lighting and how did that relationship develop?

We met (also) through our touring rock bands. Communication is quick, we rarely reach an impasse, and share a love for story. The awesome thing about VL is that it (the recording) is never (ever) finished. Even when we feel it is, his finish line is somewhere out in the ether – and he somehow seems to further improve ideas that felt final. That is truly special.

How much did he influence the album?

He’s an unofficial third member of the group. The songs wouldn’t be what they are without him.

What role does Brooklyn and Chicago play in your music?

Points of convergence. They are home, and the unique aspects of each are reflected in our personal perspectives. The cold of winter is unifying.

How has Egypt influenced your writing?

We weren’t, specifically, influenced by Egypt – more by the rituals that surround death. The concept for the record is a person going through the act of death and how it affects them (and those around them). With the song, East to West, the core idea was that someone is being taught/learning how to pass into the next life. So we started with some lyrics we were toying with and filled in the gaps by researching rituals in death – when we came across the Egyptian directional burials and thought it made for a good line.

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

There’s no single source of inspiration. Sometimes, we come up with a phrase or couplet we really like and build on it. Other times, we stumble across a news article, read a book, see a photo. Occasionally, it comes from our personal experiences.

Any plans to hit the road?

We’ve written sets, rehearsed songs but haven’t yet discovered how we want to be represented to a live audience. 2018 is looking like it’ll be the year and we can’t wait to share Given Names with audiences in a more intimate fashion.

What else is happening next in Given Names’ world?

More music, more art, more kindness. One thing we’re looking forward to is collaborating with more people from diverse cultural and artistic backgrounds – writers, filmmakers, animators, dancers, singers, painters. The sum is always greater than the parts.

Listen here

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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