Meet the 2F Collective: Experimental Music with Clout

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A couple of years ago, five kids met at New York University and started making music. It started as random sessions fueled by cheap wine from Trader Joes, but eventually they started recording and perfecting, drawing on influences from all over to create a serene yet deliberate experimental sound.

Melodies build on the beat as scattered voices sing out in Hindi, each song its own journey, taking the listener to imaginary exotic places. Jake Baxter, Nick Fraser, Henry Ott, Mike Hickey and Francesca Loeber make up the 2F Collective, and the group posted their first incredible album, “Wedding,” on SoundCloud this month.

Take a listen and get to know the people behind the sound in an interview Mike and the rest of 2F:


Where does the Indian feel in your music come from? 

Over the last year we’ve found a few hundred vinyl records on the street, and some of our favorites were Hindu devotional records and Bollywood soundtracks. We aren’t necessarily trying to go for a heavy Indian vibe, but the samples from those records were really inspiring and lent themselves well to the sound we were trying to create.

 

How did you guys come up with the name the “2f collective” and which band members do what within the songs?The name originated during a failed satanic ritual. Nick plays strings and synths, Jake plays drums, Mike sings and plays guitar, Henry plays guitar, and Francesca sings. All of us are always searching for new samples and often use field recorders to collect sounds that we hear throughout the day. Some songs are written by one of us, some by all four of us, but everyone ends up contributing something to each song.  Sometimes that means adding an instrument or a sample, other times it means changing the arrangement of the song. We all work together on the mixing and mastering of each song.

 

What’s the story behind your album artwork for Wedding?

We asked our friend Morgan Sitzler to do whatever she wanted for our album art. She was around our apartment for the entire process, from recording to mixing, and it seemed appropriate to have someone so close to the album’s musical composition take care of the visual aspect. Earlier this year she did the artwork for Henry’s Yantra EP (http://henryott.bandcamp.com/) and nailed the feeling of those songs so we felt confident that she would be able to do the same for Wedding.

 

Why did you name your first album Wedding?

We were listening to an old 78 vinyl of Mike’s grandparents’ wedding and the record started skipping in a really cool rhythmic way.  Luckily we were recording and captured it.  You can hear this at the very end of the album with his grandmother repeating “do until death.”

 

What’s the next step for 2f?

We’ve already begun work on a second album, and are rehearsing the Wedding songs live.  We’re also doing mastering for some friends’ albums, Nick is DJing in NYC, and Henry is collaborating with a friend on a concept album called Apeman 3000.

2f band picture

Who are your all-time music idols?

Jake: I’ve had a few great percussion teachers over the years who opened my eyes to all types of world music. But to name a few artists, Shlohmo and Lizst.

Nick: The musicians who have had the biggest influence on me are Boys Noize, Nujabes, Shlohmo, Duke Dumont, Erol Alkan and Boards Of Canada. There are so many great artists Id love to mention who mean a lot to my song writing and DJing but I don’t want to bore you guys.

Mike: Bonobo, Wolfmother, Paul McCartney, D’Angelo

Henry: I listen to Frank Zappa, Sun Ra, and The Books.

Francesca: Beyonce, Barbara Streisand, Yukimi Nagano (Little Dragon) and Nujabes. They’re each so deliberate with every little detail.

 

What sorts of routines do you enact for making music? Are they different for recording versus just practicing?

Jake: I do something musical every day, either sampling, mixing, or composing. I’m working part time in a water store, which gives me a lot of free time to try out new ideas. My process is pretty consistent whether I’m recording or practicing.

Nick: That totally depends on what I’m doing. When I’m practicing or recording myself DJing, it’s a much more solitary thing because it’s just me and it’s all on me. I generally try to get really in the zone for that. Where as when we are rehearsing as 2f, it’s a much more relaxed thing because we all live together and are very close. Everyone has a lot going on so it’s really nice when we actually get a chance to rehearse together. We try to keep the mood really light, a lot of joking around and a few drinks. When we are recording it’s really much more of an anything goes sort of environment. We all trade roles of performer and recording engineer in the studio we have rigged up in our apartment. We also spend hours listening to records together looking for samples.

Mike: Usually I start with our records.  I’ve been slowly going through every one picking out the parts I like, and organizing them by instrument. So typically I’ll look through my sample library to find one that I think can carry a song.  Once I’ve got the main element I start making drums and then fill in the song with more samples or field recordings.

Henry: Adjusting to the way we compose our music with 2f required changing the way I make music. Rather than rehearsing the way a traditional band would with instruments, it requires constantly listening for cool sounds in your environment and recording them and sampling them. Making tracks in this mindset on a daily basis, and constantly working on each other’s tracks, is a large part of our sound.

Francesca: I don’t really have a routine. No matter what I just have to prep myself to be open to whatever I’m feeling and allow it to influence the groove

 

Where do you think the future of experimental music is headed? What do you want people to know about it — either the genre as a whole or 2f’s music specifically?

Jake: Experimental music to me means combining disparate elements into something cohesive. As the genre evolves I see artists weaving stranger and stranger pieces together. As for 2f, we’re trying to move towards a more satanic sound.

Nick: Kind of like experimental music in general, 2f is constantly changing because of all of the influences we draw on. It’s always what we are feeling at that time, which always changes. That way we are more free to explore ideas and move on instead of getting boxed into one way of doing things or one mindset. So you can expect some of the same stuff, but also a lot of new and very different things, and I imagine that is true for experimental music as well, although who is to say really.

Mike: That’s tough for me to say because I don’t really keep up with the current experimental scene. But in general I think experimental music, as opposed to more conventional music like pop and rock, relates more to the way people experience sound in the world. Sound doesn’t normally reach us as neat and tidily arranged sections of predictable timbre and energy, so I think it makes sense that music sometimes reflect the unpredictable flow of weird noises that we perceive every day.  For 2f, I’d like to see our music spread across as many styles as possible and try to touch on as many vibes as we can.

Henry: I hear a lot of people around me coming up with new and interesting sounds that could all fall under the category of experimental music. So that gives me hope that there’s some great music being made.

Francesca: The experimental part is most fun. It basically means we have no idea what were going to do until we do it. It’s just like creative and in the moment. The relationship between all the layers is probably the most important part.

 

For more from the 2F Collective, check them out on SoundCloud, Bandcamp and Youtube.

 

Regina Spektor’s “Don’t Leave Me (Ne me quitte pas)”

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Regina Spektor’s music sounds happy, but there is always a profound underlying idea beneath the lyrics. There’s a duality to it that wouldn’t be noticed if you didn’t listen closely, a paradox of cheerful melody versus intense philosophical discourse. Regina keeps her words specific enough to mean something and ambiguous enough to be left open to interpretation, so that each of us can decide how serious we’d like her songs to seem that day.

Her song “Don’t Leave Me (Ne me quitte pas)” comes from her most recent album What We Saw From the Cheap Seats, which addresses everything from corruption in politics to hoarding masterpieces in museums. And even though “Don’t Leave Me” sounds like the merriest tune on the track, it’s also one of the most heartbreaking, as each verse leads you to another person desperate not to be left alone. The French part of the song “Ne me quitte pas, mon chere” literally translated means, “Do not forsake me, my dear.”

The song plays with bubbles as the beat, they dance past one another like a funkified merry-go-round. The peppy beat works to comfort the sad people in the song – all of them placed in different parts of New York City, the one place in the world where you can have people crushing you on all sides and still be alone.

The first character on Bowery is cast as a raggedy bum, stumbling down the street and asking for a light. The second character comes as an aging woman uptown, the kind that puts all her effort and money into slowing down time’s effect on her body. Children sledding in the Bronx make the third verse adorable, who invites the listener to “play along and catch a cold.” The first two adults ask for deities and ghosts – something to believe in and make them sure of one thing at least. But as always the children show us how its done, because at the very least we can at least be sure of each other. Even if they let us down, it’s more important to connect with the people around us than search for things we can never be sure of.

More than anything though, the song is a cheerful justification for why we’re not meant to be alone. Rome wasn’t built by one person anymore than it was built in a day.

 

“Don’t Leave Me” lyrics: reginaspektor

Down on Bowery they lose their
ball-eyes and their lip-mouths in the night,
and stumbling through the streets they say,
“Sir, do you have a light?”
And if you do then you’re my friend,
And if you don’t then you’re my foe,
And if you are a deity of any sort
then please don’t go.

Ne Me Quitte Pas, Mon Chere
Ne Me Quitte Pas
Ne Me Quitte Pas, Mon Chere
Ne Me Quitte Pas

And down on Lexington they’re wearing
new shoes stuck to aging feet,
And close you’re eyes and open,
And you’ll recognize the aging street,
And thing about how things were right
When they were young and veins were tight
And if you are the ghost of Christmas Past
then wont you stay the night?

Ne Me Quitte Pas, Mon Chere
Ne Me Quitte Pas
Ne Me Quitte Pas, Mon Chere
Ne Me Quitte Pas
Ne Me Quitte Pas, Mon Chere
Ne Me Quitte Pas
Ne Me Quitte Pas, Mon Chere
Ne Me Quitte Pas

Down in Bronxy-Bronx the kids go
sledding down snow-covered slopes
And frozen noses, frozen toes
and frozen city starts to glow
And yes, they know that it’ll melt
And yes, the know New York will thaw
But if you are a friend of any sort
then play along and catch a cold!

Ne Me Quitte Pas, Mon Chere
Ne Me Quitte Pas
Ne Me Quitte Pas, Mon Chere
Ne Me Quitte Pas
Ne Me Quitte Pas, Mon Chere
Ne Me Quitte Pas
Ne Me Quitte Pas, Mon Chere
Ne Me Quitte Pas

I love Paris in the rain.
I love, I love, in the rain…