Interview with Julia Frodahl
December 20, 2003
40: What is music?
Julia Frodahl: The shell of a boiled egg cracking as it's rolled along a counter top.
40: Your musician objectives are...
JF: To have none, perhaps.
40: Is "Seven Principles..." an album meant for lonely people?
JF: Not so much as it is an album for those who can be contemplative. It's really not meant to encourage sadness, only thoughtfulness. It seems that often introspection is mistaken for melancholy or loneliness, but sad dispositions are not necessary for enjoying this record. It was written with a longing for tenderness in a world of so much ambiguity.
40: The album talks about being quiet... do you agree?
JF: Quiet gives me the space to pay attention.
40: In general what is Edison Woods?
JF: A sentiment, in general. And one that we apply to all sorts of things: music, performance, photography.
40: What is your earliest memory as a composer?
JF: I will tell you a very short story. One afternoon, my father took me to meet my grandmother. She lived in a house that smelled of smoke and old wood, with a shop of yarn and crystal in the basement, and upstairs, an organ with color-coded marble keys and a clunky upright piano which, looking for escape, I sat down to play. I played the Blue Danube Waltz and hearing this, my father promised me a piano of my own. I anticipated the piano for months, gave up hoping for a while, until one day when I found in the living room a three-tiered Wurlitzer home-organ with preset rhythms including a fox trot and a Latin samba. This is what I taught myself to play on.
40: Do you fear something, somebody?
JF: Narrow vision. And doll houses, they are so strange.
40: You have played several shows in your native New York, Canada and the American Mid-West. How do you expect an audience to react to one your gigs?
JF: Well, we've seen all kinds of reactions. Once after we played in Louisville Kentucky, a woman in the back burst out to say "You guys fucking rock!", and I think she even made the rock-on Motley Crew kind of sign with her hand. It was a little startling after what was a fairly tranquilizing hour, but it was wonderful. More commonly though, there's a hush that comes over and that's nice too.
40: What do you think about: Low? Cowboy Junkies? Opal? Seefeel?
JF: I love them all.
40: The return of rock & roll (Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Vines...)?
JF: Pendulums swing, yes? After slowness, which is much of what dominated the 90s, we yearn to go wild. After chaos, eventually we long to find some kind of center. And music of course is a mirror of the larger cultural circuit board.
40: What is pain?
JF: An occasion for asking questions. Or for making bouquets perhaps, that can help.
40: Do you think the Strokes, The White Stripes or Kings of Leon will be relevant in thirty years?
JF I think the music they are now making will be relevant in terms of marking a particular time, because obviously they have been striking a chord in people. I don't think their's is a timeless kind of music, but I believe this is a different question?
40: Do you believe that Satan is a force?
JF: No. I think imagination is a force.