music | 8th march 2017
Dunedin folktronica artist Gulls (aka producer Adam Stewart) has unveiled a dreamy, nostalgic video for ‘Renee’, the first track off his debut EP which he released in December last year. Created by Samuel Archer, the video pairs sepia toned home movies with computerized landscapes of deep valleys - setting the perfect backdrop for the song’s soaring vocal harmonies and minimal production. We caught up with Adam in a rare moment when he wasn’t juggling poetry, music or babies.
words: gussie larkin
Gulls is a project you started after the birth of your daughter - a time I imagine is hectic as hell! What was it about that experience that gave you the incentive to write and record?
I remember people saying to me "Your life is going to change, your priorities are going to change." People assume that when you have a kid, that's it, life is over. You're locked into the schema. But I chose to look at it differently. For me it was a beginning. I had a shitty job at the time, and my baby barely slept, so I was pushed to this extreme limit. There was a lot to think about, and there were all these new relationships. All I wanted to do was to make music.
Tell me about the video for ‘Renee’. Why did you choose to pair these images with this song?
Actually I had nothing to do with the selection of images. An old friend [Samuel Archer] approached me after hearing the EP and asked if he could make a video. I said sure, not really knowing where that would go. We discussed things for a while and then kinda lost contact. Next thing he sends me this! I was blown away. We used to hang out a lot at high school so it's been really nice getting back in touch.
In the moment of light
the speckled burn of flesh
under a windowsill
this mole and this scar
and in the total weight
of the sky
where secret black crosses
shiver over the earth
into a vision of hills
and the holy inner-cry
that stops at the eyeballs
and looks out
wet with love
and the shade wrapping itself
around the house
like a dark arm
and the sorrow
which is all sorrow
motionless in its grip
like a fish
'Come death, O
its own name.
The poem you’ve shared is beautiful - could you talk about the relationship it has to ‘Renee’ and what that intersection with poetry and music means to you?
That's a good question. I tend to think that music is poetry, and vice versa. When I write music I am thinking about the melodic line, and what the 'voice' does - whether it be a guitar or a vocal or a saxophone - and this is obviously the same for poetry. A saxophone can make a poem, because the goal of a poem is to create its own language, its own boundaries, and to use that language to create an emotive response? Maybe. In that sense it was weird writing a poem to another poem. They are separate, but the same.
Your songs have a mantra-like feeling about them - especially ‘In the Snow’ with the repetitive guitar line in the verse. Do you find writing - both music and prose - to be a meditative experience for you?
Writing music is definitely meditative. The writing for me happens when I am out walking or in a peaceful state, lazing about. It sorta wells up in me and I start humming it or imagining
it - then I am itching to get to a piano or my guitar. In this way I think all songs are a kind of mantra, really. A mantra is like the musical repetition of a theme to inspire concentration on a particular subject or feeling, and I think all popular forms of music do this to a certain extent.
You’re playing in Wellington soon at the Performance Arcade, (!) what else is in store for Gulls?
Yes! The Performance Arcade! So stoked to be a part of that. Then when I get back to Dunedin I am supporting Lake South on his album release tour at None Gallery, on the 24th of March, which will also be my first Dunedin show. What else? I've started recording new material which will be going towards my debut LP, hopefully out later this year. I have also been talking about future collaborations with Sam, the talented videographer - super excited to start exploring the audiovisual possibilities of Gulls.
Gulls: Face Book
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