We battled the gloomy winds of London and met up with Tessa Murray and Greg Hughes of Still Corners to talk about dreamy dreams and taking trains. Their band’s music makes you think of all that nostalgic stuff – y’know, misty forests, David Lynch, cashmere, cherry pie and coffee. But then – bang! – the two admit that Woody Allen is actually more their cup of tea. Stay tuned to find out what a vodka jacket is.
The interview was done in London by Zofia Ciechowska. Photos shot on film in London by Laurence von Thomas.
Where do you make your music? Do you have any small rituals or things that you like to have around when you create it?
Greg: We like to look at the moon and howl before we play! I’ve got a studio in Greenwich that I’ve been building for about eight years now, and we all rehearse there as well. I like to call it The Vault, because it’s underground and has no windows, but somehow we’ve managed to make it cosy with candles and stuff. What’s really interesting about being down there is that because there’s no outside information coming in, when you emerge from there everything feels like sensory overload. Cars pass me and I’m like whoa! It’s a different world down there, time stops, you forget you’re hungry… that’s kind of what we try to do musically, too. Take people to another world, that is, not make them hungry.
I hear you two met when you both took the wrong train. What’s a good train journey?
Tessa: My parents live near a place called Tunbridge Wells in South East England. The train rolls through the trees and hills and fields of sheep of the English countryside. It’s the perfect journey length from London, not too far, not too short. Another cool train ride is from Montreal to Toronto. That’s crazy, the space is so open and barren, no civilisation to be seen.
Greg: I tend to stare out the train window for hours, thinking.
Have you ever thought about what train seats would look like if our knees bent the other way?
Greg: Everyone would sit on beanbags!
Dreaming is weird. Why do you think people dream? Where do dreams come from?
Greg: Maybe your dream state is what you really are and the rest is just bullshit. Like when I go down into my studio and seal myself off from the world, I feel like I’m in a dreamlike state and forget about everything. I guess with dreaming it doesn’t matter if you’re asleep or awake.
Would you like to have a quick round of the Exquisite Corpse game? (Note: This is a game created by the Surrealists, in which a collection of words or images is collectively assembled. Each player writes a phrase or draws a part of a picture on a sheet of paper, folds the paper to conceal it, and passes it on to the next player for his contribution. It is a source of unimaginable, dreamlike images.)
End result: THE HIPPOPOTAMUS SPEWING SILENTLY SEASONAL GRIEF DANCED GRACEFULLY WITHOUT THINKING VELVET LIPS EXUBERANT MONKEYS DEEPER STRONGLY WEIGHTS
Greg: We should put that to a beat!
Have you ever had the classic ‘coming to school naked’ dream?
Tessa: Not really, but I’ve had a scary dream where my teeth fell out. Has anyone else had that dream?
Greg: The most vivid dream I ever had was when I was eight years old and I dreamt of having a conversation with a giant ant. It was so real that when I woke up I went to the place down the street where I dreamt it had happened and looked for the ant.
Tessa: I dreamt I got chased by a motorbike gang that drove me off a cliff. I fell out of my bed and woke up.
Greg and Tessa: Actually, there are a lot of good dream sequences in Rosemary’s Baby and Picnic at Hanging Rock and even Vertigo!
Yeah, I’ve heard you like your films, what’s up with that?
Greg: Well, with the whole dream pop thing, people expect us to be into David Lynch and Laura Palmer and stuff but actually, as much as we like that, I actually love Woody Allen. Hannah and Her Sisters is the best. I could just ditch the band and go and write a Woody Allen book. I’m kidding, I’m kidding!
Tessa: I need to ask you this, do you know what a vodka jacket is?
Greg: We were playing a show in Nottingham and it was absolutely arctic outside. We were packing up our stuff when this super drunk girl walked up to us and started talking to me. She was only wearing a tiny tank top and a mini skirt. I asked her if she was cold and she said no, she was wearing her vodka jacket. Apparently if you have six vodkas, a coat is not an issue!