Coming out of nowhere and adding a whole new meaning to the term 'freak-folk', Espers have been hailed by many as a redefining collective with enough creativity and new-age folk sensibilities to bring an under-privileged genre into the indie lime-light.
Throwing off such claims and the invetiable hype that ensued, the band stuck to their guns and have so far delivered four albums, the newest being the just-released III, an album we've been waiting for all year in the land of Strange Glue.
As it's Shred Yr Face Week here at SG, we decided to catch up with two of the Philadelphian sextet and picked their brains about all things SYF as well as the new record and what 2010 has in store for Espers.
Here's what Greg Weeks and Meg Baird had to say.
SG: A lot of critics and journalists have brought up your name when talking about the 'new folk movement', do you feel like you've played a part in the resurgence of contemporary and new-age folk?
Greg: New age folk is Jan Ackerman and that whole catalogue. Its like a lot of dippy dudes ruminating on which skin flute would work best on the 30 minute outro to New Dawn: Cornucopia. Those dudes sleep with their cut-away ultra-varnished acoustics and modular synths garnished with dewy moss. So, yeah, I think we have almost single-handedly pioneered that resurgence.
SG:Your newest album 'III' has just been released, how are you feeling about the record?
Greg: I'm very ambivalent ... but I always feel that way with new stuff.
Meg: I think it sounds like an Espers record...
SG: Do you each have your own favourite track from it?
Greg: Hmmm ... Sightings maybe? I dunno.
Meg: Road of Golden Dust may be my favourite. I love equally-weighted vocal harmonies, and I got to play the Rhodes.
SG: How does III differ from II?
Meg: III was definitely built more on the foundation of Otto's drum work than any previous album. We also went for a very different sense of space and light. II sounded very dense, spacey and primordial, where III is a bit more aboveground (of course over that same dense, spacey primordial underground--you could always accidentally fall back in through a well or something).
Greg: III is to pillow as II is to tar.
SG: In the press release for III it states: “The band attempted to create something that would be perhaps cheery at times, though that mark may have been missed.” What happened?
Greg: I dunno, aren't you smiling?
Meg: Well, any band that gets knocked around in their own press release is certainly not foolish enough to try and sound "cheery."
SG: Ignoring all of the genre tag-lines that are thrown about all too frivolously nowadays, how would you describe your own music and its intentions?
Greg: We intend only to do what we can do. Our music is in no way a put on. We don't subscribe to fads or jockey for hip cred. What comes out simply comes out. I don't think any of us truly understand the source, the process or the response.
Meg: I think we try to be an ensemble--to tap into something bigger than our places as individuals. I think that may partly account for why the music winds up sounding sort of faceless, ancient or otherworldly to a lot of listeners.
SG: You're travelling with two other pretty great bands for this Shred Yr Face tour. Who's been the best touring buddies you've ever been paired with?
Greg: Oh, well, that would have to be Vetiver, Richard Bishop or Feathers, in my opinion.
Meg: Vetiver is always perfect, but of course we could only get away with that double bill a few times. We've honestly been really lucky with touring partners.
SG: What other contemporary artists have impressed you as of late?
Greg: Stuff coming out of Germany. Hiroku and Graumahd primarily.
Meg: I adore the band Blues Control. Doug Paisley has been doing great work, too. I love Beach House for bringing back those simple, expansive, warm feelings from old Opal records. These are of course just a very, very few.
SG: What's happening with Espers in 2010?
Greg: Shows and sleep.
Meg: Maybe simplifying and honing--but I don't want to overstep speaking for the group.