By Sleazus Christ
The dynamic duo of Silian Rail, Robin Landy and Eric Kuhn, has been plying their expressive instrumental jams around the Bay Area and beyond for quite some time. Now the Oakland-based band is giving fans yet another chance to check out their superb sounds with a summer tour. If you’ve yet to see these two in action, it’s time to make the trek to their nearest show and see why audiences can’t get enough of them. Robin and Eric were nice enough to chat with Synthesis about their summer plans and their new record. Feel the love
You’ve been busy this summer—playing the Great American Music Hall with Velvet Teen, releasing your new acoustic EP—what’s next on the agenda?
Eric: Firstly, this short August tour with our good pals from L.A., Summer Darling. We’ll be playing a handful of West Coast dates for that, ending with an amazing show when we return to San Francisco. After that we’ll be doing prep work for the new record—finishing writing, demo-ing, and also recording a special bonus experimental collaborative EP to be part of the next record.
What can you tell us about the new record?
E: The new record is going to be the most expansive and varied of anything we’ve done so far. Since Parhelion we’ve been writing and playing with a much greater attention to dynamics. So, it’ll be both quieter and gentler, more reflective and noisier and more intense and pummeling than anything we’ve done before, but, in equal measure and quick surprising doses…we’ve become more interested in the use of atmospheric and ambient sounds that are not necessarily specifically musical, but are present to create a mood or a setting for the rest of the music to exist in. I realize this last part sounds potentially a little pretentious, and our use of it is so subtle that people may or may not notice it, but we enjoy exploring this new dimension outside of simply focusing on notes and beats.
Robin: Like our last album, this record also will be recorded at the Hangar, and also will be engineered by the amazing Robert Cheek. Robert is a wizard and such a pleasure to work with—incredibly fast and good at what he does. Plus, he puts in very long days while seemingly sustaining himself on toast. The Hangar is a really sweet studio in Sacramento, which is insanely huge and filled with tons of weird organs, vibes and guitars, and also has a skate ramp inside of it. It looks like we’ll be recording in a couple months, for release in early 2012.
There’s a lot of emotion that comes through in your music. How difficult is it to express through instrumental songs? Is it something you take into account when you’re writing?
R: That is fortunately something that comes very naturally, and it is rarely a struggle to write music that is emotional; I would go so far as to say it’s often not even a conscious or deliberate thing. Melody is often what is most attractive to me personally, in a certain piece of music, and the melodies that come naturally to me often evoke a particular feeling. I’ve actually realized that I’m actually not that good at writing “neutral” sounding melodies, which is sort of a valuable skill to have. We’ve taken on some scoring projects recently, and you realize sometimes a piece of music needs to just float along and not dictate a certain mood, which is actually kind of tough to do. In general, I do so appreciate instrumental music that is emotionally compelling; to be swayed into a particular feeling, without any lyrics being there to define the feeling for you, is that much more powerful sometimes.