Written by Nicolas Helm-Grovas
Photos and illustrations by Andrew Bowman (The Liminal) and Primavera Festival
14 Monday 14th February 2011

You’ve really blown up in the last couple of years. Are you surprised by how many people have picked up on your music?

I don't think about that to be honest. On the exterior our music may seem difficult or challenging to some, but it is accessible once you figure out how to listen to it I suppose. The people coming in with all these expectations and biases are not going to know what to do with it, but those who let go of their inhibitions will be rewarded. I'm glad that people are catching up to it though.

Steve Hauschildt (Emeralds)

Steve Hauschildt

What’s the process for making one of your records?

It's a long and tedious process because the three of us are perfectionists to some extent. Emeralds is our biggest project so we really take our time on it now. We lay the tracks down one by one and mix the levels throughout the entire course of the song. There's no rhyme or reason to who starts a song or who contributes a part or what it should be like – it's all intuitive and unrestrained. That is exciting in a way, because a song can transform in a matter of minutes. Once a song is finished we all usually have a slightly different idea of how the final mix should sound so after listening back to it dozens of times we finally settle on something. The naming of songs is usually democratic but not really collaborative, usually someone puts something out there and we either agree or shoot it down or modify it. For example, Mark and I wanted the track 'Summerdata' to be a portmanteau while John wanted the words to be separated. So in that instance it's a 'majority rules' scenario. As far as the arrangement goes, we hardly ever disagree once the tracks are all laid out. We all come up with our own tracklistings and most of the time they're very similar. We have a fairly good idea of how to use momentum to create flow not just in one song, but over the course of an album. It's important to think about the space between the songs when you're arranging.

Who inspired you to get into music initially and who inspires you now?

If you really want to trace it back to the beginning I would say my mum, just because she was always improvising on the piano when I was growing up. I'm lucky because I have a lot of friends all over the world who inspire me in different ways when it comes to music.

John Elliott (Emeralds)

John Elliott

You come from the same Ohio scene that artists like Aaron Dilloway and 16 Bitch Pile-Up are/were part of. Are you all still based there? Is the music scene still as strong there as it was a few years ago?

Yeah we are still based here though Mark is going to be moving out to Portland soon. I can't say it's really as strong but I don't really get out as much as I used to. People are getting older and it seems like things are dissolving a little bit, it has a lot to do with the lack of promotion and a solid DIY space in Cleveland, in my opinion.

The band seems pretty active running at least two record labels (Gneiss Things and Wagon). Is there a particular sound or idea that unites either of these labels? What do you think are the advantages of running your own labels?

With Gneiss Things I tend to focus more on electronic music while Wagon is more open-ended. Wagon also puts out more stuff from local artists. I like that with your own label you have complete control over the entire process so whatever you put into it you will get back.

Mark McGuire (Emeralds)

Mark McGuire

Most of your recent stuff seems to have come out mostly on vinyl, CD and mp3. Any plans to go back to the more lo-fi cassette or CD-R releases?

Personally I don't have any immediate plans to, but Mark and John are always putting stuff out.

What releases have Emeralds got in the pipeline? Any solo work?

Maybe a reissue or two for Emeralds this year, we're just sorting out the home for our next record as we speak so it's hard to say if there will be any new Emeralds material this year. I have a record coming out on Kranky, Mark is working on some stuff for Editions Mego and John has a lot up his sleeve as well.

Does It Look Like I'm Here? is out now in all good record stores, and probably a few bad ones. Catch up with Emeralds tourdates and releases at www.myspace.com/theemeralds

Images courtesy of Andrew Bowman for The Liminal

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