Lately I'm finding it fun to have a bit of a Q&A with whatever band happens to be the creator of Thursday's Cut of the Day. This week it's newly minted PDX residents Microfilm and their brooding house track, "Fox & His Friends" from the electronic duo's second LP The Slingshot Orchestra
. In a move that singer Matt Keppel describes as "Midwesterners gone West Coast," he and bandmate Matt Mercer arrived in the Rose City this past September after stints in Chicago, Cleveland and Minneapolis. I checked in with Keppel about the move, the group and the tune in question's roots in German cinema. While the media blitz for vampire romance novel-turned-movie Twilight
continues and Portland's weather is criticized left and right by cast and crew, we learn right off the bat that Keppel may officially be the first person to be charmed by Portland's winter. Score one for the cold and wet?
We visited in the dead of winter last year and fell in love with it. We both wanted a change from 8 years of big city, urban jungle, cement covered, traffic clogged blight. We came upon a land of no winter, well, no snow and ice anyway. It smells nice here, like firewood, all the time. It smells like car exhaust in Chicago.
Was this album finished prior to your move to Portland?
The entire thing was done before we stepped foot in Portland. Except for the album cover image. That was taken at Mt. Tabor.
What is this song about?
Well the title refers to a 1974 German film of the same name. It's by the filmmaker Rainer Fassbinder, who was insanely prolific and a bit of a head case. His movies are usually dismally depressing but cool. In this one, the hero wins the lottery at the beginning of the film and ends up dead, face down on a subway platform by the end. Anyway, the lyrics are based on that character who wins "everything" but ends up destroyed by it.
How long did it take to complete?
It's hard to remember. We did this one last fall/winter. Relatively quickly I think. We had our friend Marcos, who's Brazilian and a classical composer, go through the lyrics again in Portuguese at a whisper. If you put on headphones you can hear him in the background. This album took about twice as long as our first one to make; it's more layered and complex.
How do you describe the sound of "Fox & His Friends"?
Well, its one of those kind of expansive, epic album opener songs (even though it's technically the second track). How about melancholic disco? Depressed house music? Vocally, I wanted to sound like Bowie. My voice was pitched down a bit. Sometimes I think it might be more like me impersonating James Murphy (LCD Soundsystem) impersonating Bowie.
Microfilm official site
Twilight official site
(geez, that Robert Pattinson sure is hot!)
Photo by Davin Youngs