The brain-child of San Jose experimentalist Jamie Stewart, Xiu Xiu latest video portrays the anguish and anticipation of impermissible love. Paralyzing
Xiu Xiu frontman Jamie Stewart’s fascination with Twin Peaks is hardly a secret: so charmed with the cult classic series by Mark Frost & David Lynch that it inspired Stewart to re-imagine a Twin Peaks soundtrack, an ominous take on the holy mess the show brings forth. Xiu Xiu have performed the new interpretation of the music on different occasions, notably one of which was alongside the David Lynch: Between Two Worlds exhibition. We’re just as enthralled by Stewart’s obsession as he is obsessed, so we approached him with the hope of getting to the bottom of some of the most memorable Twin Peaks moments as well as getting closure on unanswered questions.
What is your fascination with Twin Peaks that lead you to re-imagining the music for it?
Twin Peaks is one of the greatest works of art of the 20th century and as such fascination with it is unavoidable! Since we began in 2002 it has been one of our most influential templates. The tv show and film are about death, sex, abuse, familial crisis, bizarre metaphysics, evil, odd humor and unworkable love. To comment on and to make all of those points of life cohesive I think is Twin Peaks’ greatest accomplishment. It led us to try and follow a similar path in Xiu Xiu. Due to that, it is less of a re-imagining for us and more of an attempt at gratitude and homage. But that said, we are not trying to play it verbatim and no one could anyway.
Why did you select Twin Peaks specifically?
Conceptually, the soundtrack and show deeply shaped us as players and we are trying to play the music in the way that it shaped us. It seems like a more real way to say thank you to it, by being ourselves in the way that it made us ourselves rather than a note for note, timbre for timbre review. Bowing down to this profound influence has maintained our long standing interest in it.
And where does the inspiration behind the re-imagination lie; is it based on the series as a whole or moments from here and there?
We, on bended knee, picked songs from both seasons of the tv show, the film *Fire Walk with Me* and dialog from the book *The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer.* A few of them are two of the songs played together at the same time, stacked on top of each other, trying to weave the more memorable harmonies in and out of each other or played medleys starting in one song and leading into another. There are some classic “hits” and some super deep cuts. We wanted to focus on the darker side of it BOB, the red room, dark Laura, garmonbozia. We make some small hints to coffee, donuts and cherry pie but the majority of our approach is through the black lodge. Our versions, while following the chords and melodies fairly faithfully, are exploded, fuzzed out, noise-drenched, aggressive and bleak to try and illustrate those feelings. As fun and as funny as Twin Peaks is — and I love that about it as a fan — musically, we are not a fun band. The most honest way for us to play it is to embrace Windom Earle.
If you were a Twin Peaks character who would you be?
The man from another place. His role is so ambiguous. It is unclear if he is some kind of strange benevolent guide or the overseer of shadows. Of course, he has the best speaking voice and best dance moves as well. The uncertainty between light and dark sits naturally in my little heart.
What ever happened to the Log Lady?
She is fine, laying on her back staring at the clouds, listening to the forest log cradled in her arms, waiting.
In your opinion, what happens to Dale Cooper?
POSSESSED BY BOB! I love the last scene so much. It took such guts for them to end the season on that unknowable and freakish note. I am eternally impressed that they respected the audience enough not to spoon feed them an “answer.” Dale ends up being the most evil of all as he began as the most pure.
Are you Bob?
No but we play Dungeons and Dragons together sometimes.
Lets play a game. Can you match each of the following five themes with a memorable Twin Peaks moment? One that really stuck with you?
1. Dream (or dream-like) state
From *Fire Walk with Me,* Dale is in the red room and little Jimmy Scott appears to sing sycamore trees.
It is so wrong! But special agent Dale Cooper’s barely contained affection for teen-aged Audrey Horne and her willingness to subvert social acceptance and try and get what she wants.
The recurring silent drape runners and cotton balls of Nadine Hurley.
From *Fire Walk with Me* when Leland is murdering and raping Ronette Pulaski and Teresa Banks in the train car.
Leland Palmer appearing with newly white hair to prance around the living room singing “Mairzy Doats”.
Xiu Xiu performs an interpretation to Twin Peaks in The Rest is Noise at Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ in Amsterdam on Friday, October 2nd. For more information and tickets visit, Muziekgebouw.nl.