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Five Questions with … Devon Church of Exitmusic

June 27th, 2012

Aleksa Palladino and Devon Church originally met as teens on a train making its way across Church’s native Canada. They stayed in touch through mail until he later moved to New York City and in with Palladino (whom you may recognize as Angela Darmody on Boardwalk Empire). The couple began making dreamy, ethereal music together under the name Exitmusic, relocated to L.A., got married, moved back to NYC and recently released their band’s debut LP, Passage, which was recorded in their home studio. They each play several instruments and produce and arrange the songs together. And prior to Exitmusic (above, doing “The Sea” for KEXP FM) playing Mercury Lounge tomorrow night, Church e-mailed The House List to answer Five Questions.

What music or song always makes you dance?
No song has such terrible power over me.

Do you have to be depressed to write a sad song? Do you have to be in love to write a love song? Is a song better when it really happened to you?
As someone who is depressed a good amount of the time, I wouldn’t really know, since chances are I’m going to feel shitty at some point during a song’s composition. I don’t really think you have to be sad to write a sad song (we don’t write love songs as such), but there must be some kind of well of sadness and experience that you draw from, because otherwise, why bother? A song is best when it’s not too premeditated—there is nothing wrong with some careful planning—but it should arise authentically and be composed with a kind of reverence for the things that are most important in the artist’s life. Like money, for example. Or getting Pitchfork to think you’re cool. (That’s what this is all about right?)

Now that you’ve released Passage, is there a sense of relief and you just want to play that music live? Or have these songs been living with you so long that you’re ready to move on to new material and record again?
A bit of both. It is nice to see the songs live a life outside of our little apartment studio and attain much greater dimensions and higher volumes. But we are always ready to write new songs—the creative process is still more exciting to us than performing—but not by much anymore. We’ve started enjoying playing and touring (as opposed to being anxious weirdos all day before a show), and sometimes when the right elements are present, it can be a totally sublime experience.

How has playing live with other musicians fleshed out the music from your album?
We tried playing as a duo, to a drum/synth track, but it didn’t work for us. We have a lot more going on in our songs than, say, Beach House (but even they play with other musicians now), and it works a lot better to have the visual and sonic accompaniment of other musicians. It becomes a lot more propulsive and dynamic, and the responsibilities are shared with more people, so we can focus on performing rather than worry about a laptop crashing or getting off time with a backing track.

Marriage can be tough on its own and so can working intimately with someone, so how do you so successfully manage both?
Therapy helps. —R. Zizmor