radi safi
Meanderings

Safi vs Shaw

I met Dan Shaw about 5 years ago after he responded to an ad I placed for new band members in Sydney’s Drum Media. He plays bass. For those of you who don’t know ‘the drum’ as it is affectionately known, it’s a free A3-ish sized newsprint street press weekly with a glossy cover. If you can be bothered reading it cover to cover you should pretty much walk away knowing everything that’s (commercially) happening musically in Sydney that week. It comes out on a Tuesday. I’m writing this on a Monday afternoon. Back to Dan. He was the only bass player that rang me after I posted the ad. He’s now one of my closest friends, my only worthy drinking buddy after Heinz moved to Thailand and still plays bass in our band. When I thought about doing some fun and possibly stupid two way interviews I was initially thinking of the movie I’m hoping to make during the recording and production of our next album. That still might happen. I wanted it to be fun but also provocative; I wanted us to momentarily slip into both the ultimate cliché of journalist and the oft interviewed musician if that’s at all possible. There’s no reason other than I think it’ll make good watching / reading. I thought of Dan because someone should record our conversations sometimes, he rarely says no and is rather well read.

Radi

You lent me Arcade Fire’s new album a few weeks ago. I loved it enough to buy it but haven’t bought it yet. Soon. While there was nothing wholly original on the album (sorry AF), what do you think makes it so special? There’s a leading question here which you may pick up on. Feel free to answer that too.

Dan

Nothing wholly original? How interesting. It isn’t even that I refute that, it’s just that I don’t even consider it when I listen, or appreciate, anything that I love. Unoriginality, when completely apparent, is sickening, but re-inventing the wheel isn’t a prerequisite for me loving an album. First question, and I’m already digressing wildly.

What makes it special? Many things I suppose, but at its core is an unmistakable concept. They’ve done a film clip for the title track “The Suburbs”, and the concept is further reinforced by it.

How do you imagine the concept for Circle’s next body of work (if there is one)?

Radi

I love that film clip! Truly igneous stuff at work there. You seem a rather thoughtful fellow so as a musician I would have taken you to go a little deeper into the inner workings of an album or song. To say that you don’t even consider it surprises me. But then again you are also a romantic so taking things as they come… well, that’s a great thing too. I was however trying to suggest there is something deeper. You hinted at it with your remark regarding the concept. For the record when I say I’m hinting at something it by no means suggests that I actually know what I’m hinting at.

Intent however is a word we should be using more often as a band. The next Circle album is going to present many challenges to all of us. We’re in a new place mentally and musically and many factors may change how we tackle this in the coming months. We have spoken about a concept of sorts being that which is at arm’s length as opposed to that which is on the other side of the fence. More time is needed to solidify this and I’ve begun meditating again which I’m sure is going to help

Dan

I think I do consider originality, in a subconscious way perhaps. And some albums are more original than others – but that doesn’t necessarily mean I enjoy those experiences more. What I do enjoy in an album is a sense of continuity – not necessarily in the songwriting style, but theme wise. I think the production of an album has a huge part to play in achieving an effortlessly magical atmosphere. Technically speaking, the way an album “sounds” can manipulate the listener’s interpretation of it. It certainly does with me. It’s not an easy subject to expand upon, because I think a lot of the effect a great album has belongs the realm of psycho-acoustics. The emotional response I have to most albums is hugely to do with the sonic landscape. When I think about how bands like MGMT and how they use resonance, I just love it. I’m all about resonance these days.

Radi

We seem to be pretty good at throwing things each other’s way that stick. Be it musicians, albums, books, movies. Some people (including myself at times), are loath to share something they discovered as though there’s some kind of IP on the find. Have you ever felt this and why do you think it happens? Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we were all sharing the good stuff? Maybe there is a level of IP in the discover?

Dan

Does IP mean intellectual property? If so, I’ve never really felt the urge to suppress any discoveries for that reason. I remember watching stupid movies with my brother as a kid, and it was as if the experience could only be legitimately fun if we were both laughing at the same jokes. Maybe I’m insecure and need approval for my taste so I’m eager to share. But not so much anymore. I like that quiz show “Letters and Numbers”, and I’m pretty sure nobody else does.

I ‘m not sure why it happens to you, but I think you should brag about your discoveries. If you have good taste.

Have any discoveries that you’re too embarrassed to share?

Radi

If I have good taste? That’s about as subjective as it gets Mr. Shaw. But you’re right, I should be talking more about all these discoveries. Maybe that’s what all this blogging is about. As far as embarrassing discoveries, no I don’t think so. Ass plugs are pretty good. Have you tried them?

Dan

Taste: truly subjective? There are entire schools of thought that may argue otherwise – a topic way too huge and complex to broach. Ass plugs? No, not yet. Maybe later in that “we have to spice up our sex life” part of the relationship.

I am intrigued as to the reason you may not want to share discoveries that you thought were significant. I’d love to hear what intellectual property means to you.

Radi

I’m not going to answer that completely today because it’s a very long one but let me just say that if you have no discoveries that aren’t worth protecting then I’m not really sure what life’s about.

We like a drink you and I. If you had more money do you think you’d drink more or just better booze? Rich folks quaff Grange. Can you see yourself pondering between a $200 and $400 bottle of red one day?

Dan

Yes.

Maybe not in days of yore, but I always go quality over quantity nowadays. That’s not to say I can’t enjoy a trashy booze-up. Does depend on the companion though – context is everything. I love reading the blurbs on fancy Scotch bottles. If I  could drink and write blurbs, well, a happy man I would be. Yeah. I wanna be that guy.

How about you? Got your eye on a dusty old bottle somewhere?

Radi: I want a cellar full of dusty old bottles! I can totally see you as that guy by the way. Keep the dream alive. I think we should drink more Scotch. Are we still on for NYE?

Dan

Yeah NYE is on, of course. Is it better to approach the bottle sober, or after about six beers like last time. I’m thinking a smorgasbord would be great. Just a few different flavors – wine, maybe some sort of stout beer, caipirinha.

Radi

I think a few beers first should do the trick. I’m also thinking cigars perhaps just because. I keep meaning to ask you what your three favorite non Wes Anderson films are. I also keep meaning to ask what you thought of the Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Dan

Hmm. Rushmore, The Royal Tennenbaums, and The Life Aquatic. Everything about these movies is a joy to me. They’re so fucking funny and they all have these heartbreak moments that really get me. You should to Rich about Wes Anderson too.

I haven’t seen The Fantastic Mr. Fox yet. It’s escaped me somehow, and you’ve reminded me. Must see it soon.

The Coen Bros. have just done a version of “True Grit”. What are your favorite of the Coen’s?

Radi

Ha! I asked what were your three favorite films that Wes did not direct… A Freudian slip no doubt. I’ve seen most their films (the Coen’s that is). Barton Fink is up there but I think Fargo is my favorite. It’s not so much that they aren’t getting better; these older films just ooze a certain quality, like Raising Arizona. I can’t quite place it. Something like Roman’s Rosemary’s Baby. He got better and better but it has a certain quality that only time can procure.

Dan

I don’t have a great memory for movies unfortunately. Milena and I have watched so many in our time together, it’s hard to remember which ones I loved the most. Have you seen/heard about Winter’s Bone? That’s one of my recent favorites.

As a teen, I could make lists of my favorite things, albums, movies, people. I’m just incapable of it nowadays. Is it because the adult mind expands to take in myriad other concerns?

Radi

Not sure. Maybe. I still remember all my favorites of everything. I wonder if people will enjoy reading this? Oh and congratulations on the new job! We should probably toast to that at some point.

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